Techstars announced the launch of Techstars India as a joint venture company in partnership with ANSR. Headquartered in Bengaluru, ANSR builds and operates GICs and captive centres for some of the leading global companies from the retail, fintech, healthcare and media domains.

Image Source – Techstars

The ANSR partnership will provide Techstars with a very strong foundation to launch its Indian operations. Having partnered with 27 leading global enterprises, ANSR is the world’s largest company for establishing and operating captive center service delivery capabilities for global enterprises in support of their growth, transformation and innovation agenda. ANSR, through its innovation arm, Kyron, also operates startup led innovation programs for its corporate partners including Target, L-Brands, Lowes and Swiss Re.

With this launch, Techstars is adding India to its international roster, bolstering India’s position as a leading global startup ecosystem. India, known for its dominant role in the IT industry and home to captive centers for over 1,000 global enterprises, is rapidly gaining traction as an entrepreneurial hub. Techstars operates worldwide and across the US, including Adelaide, Austin, Berlin, Boston, Boulder, Cape Town, Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, New York City, London, Los Angeles, Paris, Seattle, Tel Aviv, and Toronto, and has accepted over 1000 companies globally into its programs. Collectively, these companies have raised over USD 3.8B USD and have a market cap of over USD 9.9B. The launch of Techstars India will provide Techstars access to India’s rapidly growing startup and entrepreneur network as well as global enterprises that have established captive centers and startup led corporate innovation programs with ANSR and its innovation arm, Kyron Global.

[L-R] David Cohen Co-CEO – Techstars, Lalit Ahuja, CEO – ANSR, David Brown, Co-CEO – Techstars

David Brown, Co-CEO of Techstars, said

We have been watching India’s growth very closely and its emergence as the third largest global startup ecosystem in less than a decade. There’s so much great activity here and the potential for growth is huge, as one of the fastest growing economies in the world. I think in addition to that, India’s prime minister underlining the importance of entrepreneurship and innovation in giving productive outlets to the country’s talent is very positive. It’s heartening to see tech evangelists work closely with the government to lay out a digital infrastructure for the country which startups then can leverage. India is on a tech, digital and startup mission of sorts.

This has been a big year for Techstars. We’re 10 years old and have now seen over 1,000 companies in Techstars’ mentorship-driven accelerator programs worldwide. We are excited to announce the addition of Techstars India to the Techstars Worldwide Network.

Lalit Ahuja, CEO, ANSR said

ANSR is very excited to partner with Techstars to launch Techstars India. We believe that this is an event of national importance and a huge validation of India’s position as a leading global hub for entrepreneurial activity. The launch of Techstars India will provide an impetus to the rapidly growing startup ecosystem and the emergence of India as a dominant entrepreneurial network. This launch brings to fruition ANSR and Kyron’s pioneering efforts to successfully create a startup corporate engagement corridor towards the emergence of India’s largest startup led corporate innovation platform.

Speaking at the event, Priyank Kharge, Minister of IT, BT & Tourism said

The Government of Karnataka is focused on building a bolder and structured ecosystem and the collaboration with Techstars is exactly what the Government requires and is the right step forward. Karnataka is India’s second largest technology hub and this is validated by the fact that we have all the Fortune 500 companies. Propelled by government policies in the last 3 months, more than 3200 startups have registered with the government. We are also coming up with numerous Centres of Excellence and by the end of August we will have India’s first Centre of Excellence for Artificial Intelligence. Karnataka today has reached its maturity as a services industry and now moving forward to R&D and innovation.

About Techstars

Techstars helps entrepreneurs succeed. Through the Techstars Worldwide Entrepreneur Network, founders and their teams connect with other entrepreneurs, experts, mentors, alumni, investors, community leaders, and corporate partners who will help their companies grow. Techstars operates four divisions: Techstars Startup Programs, Techstars Mentorship-Driven Accelerator Programs, Techstars Corporate Innovation Partnerships, and the Techstars Venture Capital Fund. Techstars Mentorship-Driven Accelerator Program supercharges success and Techstars Startup Programs inspire, educate and connect entrepreneurs. For more information, please visit Techstars

About ANSR

Backed by Accel Partners and Infosys and headquartered in Dallas, TX, ANSR is a global leader in establishing, operating and optimizing Global In-House Centers ‘GICs’ and provides end-to-end solutions to enterprises across the GIC life-cycle. Through Kyron, its innovation arm, ANSR also operates Innovation/Corporate Accelerator Programs. For more information, please visit ANSR

Fintech is having a huge impact on the financial services in India. It has been largely dominated by the lending and payments companies in India. Initiatives like the India Stack [UPI, e-KYC, Aadhar] by National Payments Corporation Of India [NPCI] have been instrumental in leading the Fintech revolution.

Image Source – Investments

Many of the fintech companies are leveraging Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Social Data Intelligence, Blockchain, etc. in order to solve critical business problems. For example, with the help of AI, contextual data and transaction data, your wealth managers can come up with a ‘more relevant’ financial plan that suits your requirements.

When we talk about Money, the immediate thought that comes to our minds is ‘How to I multiply wealth via good investments‘. There are significant number of investment options available in the market but the option that you choose depends on factors like your age, dependencies, exisiting investment portfolio, risk apetite, etc. One good investment option is ‘Mutual Funds‘ but as per a report, India’s Assets under management  (AUM) to GDP ratio is only 9 percent which is significantly lower as compared to other developed/developing contries. The bright side about this report is that there are rising number of people interested to invest in Mutual Funds given that they get proper hand-holding and guidance.

This is the problem that founders of WealthApp, a Fintech startup aim to solve by amalgamating their vast knowledge in personal finance with technologies like AI, Machine Learning, etc. Today we have a chat with Gaurav Dhawan, Co-founder & Director of WealthApp about WealthApp, Fintech, Personal Finance, etc.

Image Source – WealthApp

How did you come up with the idea of WealthApp ?

We are ex-bankers from Citi who have decades of experience in personal financial management of individuals across net-worth segments. We understand that while people with higher net-worth have access to good quality financial advice, the middle-income groups in India experience an acute shortage of the same. There are various estimates to suggest that about 30 crore people in India have an ability to invest, a majority of which form the entire middle-income group of the pyramid. Given this huge need gap, we wanted to put in place a solution to reach sound financial advice to the market at large. The next question on our minds was to figure a solution to bridge this gap ? One thing that we realised very soon was that we needed to use technology to reach out to a larger audience.

However, using technology is one thing – but to marry that with quality advice is a totally different ball game. We then studied the entire advisor-client interaction cycle, right from the time of first interaction to the evolution of the relationship over a long term, and broke it down into steps that we could automate. We realised that most of this engagement can be automated using algorithms. Then we started picking elements of this interaction cycle to build algorithms to automate the process – that’s how WealthApp was born. We formally launched the platform in October 2016 for public at large.

Can you please give a background about the team behind WealthApp ?

The founders consist of myself, Subba Rao Telidevara, Sanjay HB and Mitesh Shah. We have a cumulative experience of 50+ years across various forms of money management. This makes us aware that the long winding process, paper work and lack of proper guidance in investment methods puts off people as prospective investors. The team is hard at work to ensure that our platform at WealthApp overcomes all of these barriers and adds value across the personal financial life of our customers.

As per a report, there is very small percentage of investors/would be investors who plan to invest in the Equity market [or MF], how does WealthApp plan to change this ‘resistant’ behaviour from investors ?

India’s AUM to GDP ratio stands at about 9 percent. In comparison, US markets boast of an AUM to GDP ratio of  70 percent. Even if we consider the global averages, 37% is the AUM to GDP ratio. While this clearly indicates the huge potential that our country has to channelize a significantly higher proportion of an individual’s savings into efficient financial products, India has been catching up very quickly.

This is due to a variety of reasons such as increase in financial awareness of the customers, efficient evolution of the regulatory framework and technology percolation across the country. WealthApp plans to use these broader trends to reach out to people and help them join the investment bandwagon. To keep the entry barriers low for our customers, we offer investment plans with as low as Rs. 100 investment minimums. We will also add more investment products in the future that we believe our customers will be able to benefit from.

Can you please talk about the funding of WealthApp ?

WealthApp raised about USD 440,000 in seed funding in December 2016. The startup’s investors include some very marque names such as NuVentures managing partner Venk Krishnan, Daksh eServices co-founder MJ Aravind, Vikram Kotak, Managing Partner at Crest Capital and Investment, Jayant Davar, Co-chairman & MD at Sandhar Group, Ramkumar Nishtala, MD & CEO at Vistaar Finance, and Arjun Sharma, chairman of the Select Group.

Can you share some insights into the customer demographics of WealthApp ?

An extremely large part of the unexposed population resides in the tier II and III towns where people have no access to professional financial advisory. WealthApp came up with the concept of Online Robo Financial Advisor for all kinds of investors ranging from youngsters or first time investors to a family man and seasoned investor. Moreover, WealthApp’s internal survey of a few remote towns in Karnataka revealed that about 80 percent of the population there spend at least 20 percent of their income on smartphones and data usage. Rest is reserved for household expenses and cash savings.

People there are actually very tech savvy, largely on mobile phones. And contrary to our belief they have a decent appetite for investment. But most invest in chit funds and other inefficient instruments since they have no one to guide them.

Once user has created an account on WealthApp [and all his investments from various AMCs are under one window], what other services does your team provide to the investors so that they can get more returns from their investments ?

WealthApp analyses an individual’s risk appetite, need to take risk and tolerance for risk based on factors such as income, assets, savings and financial goals that one may have. After an investment is made, the app tracks and monitors the complete cycle, alerting and suggesting investors on due payment, or any change in rules. The app also updates users over the need for liquid cash and provides options to obtain it. The platform is being enhanced further to accommodate more such situations that a customer may face over an investment lifecycle.

Image Credit – YourStory

Can you give a small glimpse about the tech behind WealthApp ?

WealthApp has developed sophisticated iOS and android mobile apps to help the middle-income groups and retail investors in India simplify their financial planning and wealth management process. Sophisticated algorithms automate the entire advisory process thus ensuring top notch and timely advise for the investor. That the smaller cities and towns face data connectivity issues doesn’t deter WealthApp.

The app is built to use data efficiently. It is a light app that works on 2G bandwidth also. Currently, WealthApp’s user interface is English. There are plans to go vernacular, primarily to target the smaller towns and cities in future.

Are there any competitors of WealthApp, if so what are some of the USP’s of WealthApp vis-a-vis the competitors ?

The segment is growing as more people start looking for financial investment products to broaden their portfolio beyond traditional products such as gold and real estate. Some of the USP’s of WealthApp vis-a-vis the competitors are below:

  • Prospective Clients made investment ready via KYC in a thoroughly paperless manner with a very simple and streamlined on-boarding process
  • Sophisticated algorithms automate the entire advisory process thus ensuring top notch and timely advice for the investor
  • Knowledge and experience of the founding team work to provide customized portfolio most suited for investors and their goals based on thorough research and strategy
  • Ongoing monitoring 24/7/365
  • Supported with convenience of doorstep service offered via web and mobile apps
  • Equipped with a team of seasoned professionals for those that require the age old personal human touch

WealthApp is currently limited to MF’s, are there any plans/timeline on whether it would be expanded to cover other financial instruments ?

WealthApp Financial Advisors is an automated investment service, conceived over a year back. It makes use of its user friendly online platform to offer best in class investment portfolio to its clients. This is based on their financial goals and ability to take risk, and mutual funds offer various advantages to build customized investment portfolios. Having said that, the company plans to add more investment options in the near future.

What are some of the methodologies that your team plans in order to keep the investors hooked on to the platform [primary reason being investments are mostly planned by investors and most cases, they would not invest more unless required, unlike shopping which is more adhoc and also more repetitive and hence more stickiness.] ?

It’s our endeavour to engage our customers meaningfully while adding value to them. A slick and customized dashboard makes it convenient for them to see their investment status on the go and they keep coming back to it often to review their portfolios. They like the fact that we don’t use jargon and provide them all the information that they need in an easy to understand manner.

We also write articles and blogs frequently on topics that are of high relevance to our customers. Again, simplicity of conveying the messafge is the key so they keep coming back to read up and make themselves more knowledgeable on areas of personal finance. Our customers also appreciate the value in our periodic automated reports that reach their mailboxes.

There are various investor initiatives like #MFDayon7th by Reliance MF and CNBC TV18, does WealthApp have plans of starting an investor education initiative [or something else] in order to widen the horizon of passive investors [that could be an integral part of the investors eco-system, but dont know where to get started] ?

WealthApp has been at the forefront of customer education right from the start. We have conducted more than 50 roadshows [in metro cities and beyond] till date to spread awareness and provide simple solutions to people’s money problems.

Our platform is coded with complex algorithms by our engineering team and they have kept it up to date with the ongoing developments in the policies and reforms in our economy. The idea is to reduce the human intervention while we interact with our customers and be fully transparent.

With growing investor and entrepreneur interest in Fintech, many wallet companies like Paytm, FreeCharge, MobiKwik, etc. are plannig to have a boutique of finance products on their platform, does this growing competition have an impact on a startup like WealthApp and how it could result in expansion of the fintech ecosystem ?

Since the evolution of technology and start-up boom, Indian economy has been a huge market place for various types of businesses. Every entrant in the start-up space has been looking at diversifications based on their growth and funding options available around them. Also with the growing economy and huge population, fintech ecosystem has so much potential yet to be unlocked.

At WealthApp, the team comes with a tremendous domain knowledge and experience in the financial sector. We are glued on to the ongoing actions and want to be the best in the market with providing right products and offerings with a remarkable customer service. The market looks extremely responsive for WealthApp at the moment and we would like to be focused on our current service offerings instead of diversifying into many portfolios at this point of time. Currently, WealthApp deals only with mutual fund portfolios because MFs are very well regulated, are very difficult to understand, and the seed money requirement is very less.

You mentioned earlier that there is a growing demand of products like WealthApp in tier-2, tier-3 cities [and beyond], what are some of the marketing initiatives that your team has taken in order to penetrate into that particular market ?

The tier 2 towns and beyond is where the potential lies untapped. The revolution in technology and touch of power has reduced the distance between both the worlds. It has digitally enabled the end customer to gain access to the knowledge and information today. This has opened up new dimensions for them to look into new avenues of investment options.

It has created inroads for WealthApp to proceed further and we are equipped with sound knowledge on the subject. We have created a team of experts who reach out to the end customers in these markets, helping them in communicating the knowledge on investments, building portfolios and managing them. We have been working with the target audience in various parts of the country.

Along with the integrated AMC approach, building investor porfolio as per his requirements, etc. your team also provides advisory services to your customers. Are these services charged and how has been the customer response to these services [since none of the finance platform provides such tailor-made services] ?

At WealthApp, the platform is equipped to build a persona of the customer on its platform and provide advisory recommendations for investments. The automated investment service has been kept free of cost while some specific value added serives are being developed that may be on a chargeable basis. Market response to our platform has been terrific so far and we are extremely encouraged to serve our customers in the best possible manner.

What is the revenue model of WealthApp and does it follow the Freemium model ?

WealthApp does not charge its customers for the automated investment service platform. It charges the fund houses a small fee. There are a number of tools and products in various stages of development and testing that may be used by the customer for a fee.

Are there are any RBI guidelines regulating the app based businesses [P2P, Line Of Credit, etc] in India or to put it the other way round, is there a requirement to regulate them ?

The app is a channel to reach out to people conveniently. The entire advisory on our platform are fully regulated by SEBI while the payments are governed with the rules laid out by the RBI.

2016 was a tough year for startups [especially from funding point of view], how according to you should entrepreneurs deal with such adverse situations ?

Having recognized a real need gap in the market and put in place a solution that adds real value to the customer, what remains critical for an entrepreneur to tide over such times is an ability to evolve as they learn alongside persevering.

After demonetization, there has been a huge demand for payment apps [including UPI], wallet providers providing investment options like Digital Gold, etc. do you see that trend working in favour of apps like WealthApp [that makes an investor’s life smoother] ?

Absolutely. As more and more people become aware of digital platforms and become comfortable using them, it helps us explain the delivery mechanism of our service to our customers in a more contextual fashion.

As per your entrepreneurial experience, when should an entrepreneur look out for external funding ?

A couple of common circumstances when one should seek external funding could include situations when you either need funds to build/improvise your product/service or when your own revenues are not sufficient to sustain growth.

Some books that you highly recommend for entrepreneurs

Some of my recent reads that I recommend  for entrepreneurs are Shoe dog by Phil Knight, Predictably irrational by Dan Ariely and The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly.

Some closing thoughts for our readers!

Effective financial management is key to meeting various life goals. This could include various aspects of our lives such as savings, expenses, investments, budgeting et al. To do any or all of this, one should seek the help of qualified financial experts to guide them through the process.

Choosing the right financial advisor is key and you must ask all questions that you need answered to make a well-informed decision. Keep in mind that the amount of wealth that we build is less a function of our income and more a function of our savings rate. And while they say money can’t buy happiness, I beg you to reconsider.

We thank Gaurav Dhawan for sharing his insights with our readers. If you are planning to put your money to work via smart investments, then you should download WealthApp. If you have any questions for Gaurav or the WealthApp Team, please email them here or share them via a comment to this article.

The digital milkman startup, Doodhwala, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding in its pre-Series A round from investor Tom Varkey, a partner at Stonehill Capital, USA.

The app delivers over 70 varieties of milk while allowing users to shop ad-hoc everything from meat, vegetables, and fruits to shelf-stable items. Since deliveries are between 4 AM~7 AM shoppers receive fresh milk and groceries.

Ebrahim Akbari, Co- Founder, Doodhwala said

Doodhwala is set to digitize the milk delivery system.  We are the first in Bengaluru to provide fresh farm milk directly to houses. We have achieved this using a hybrid delivery model of part time delivery boys and existing doodhwalas who have a milk delivery network.

The infrastructure of fresh milk delivery in India is haphazard despite high demand and a shortage of supply. This gap makes us essential to milk suppliers and creates dependency on our delivery network. Customer acquisition is also very easy and cheap. Customers love the ease of receiving their daily essentials along with milk, and the comfort of getting in touch with their doodhwala.

Founded in 2015, Doodhwala is progressing steadily with over 1,00,000 monthly deliveries.  The startup has expanded operations to Pune while other cities are in its pipeline. The company will be operationally profitable by the end of 2017.

Founders of Doodhwala : Ebrahim Akbari[L], Aakash Agarwal[R]

Tom Varkey, Investor said

Doodhwala has an exceptional approach to the daily needs market. Their unit economics are healthy, as they have an impressive delivery infrastructure with a 25 percent month-on-month growth rate.

By lowering its delivery costs to Rs 3–5, Doodhwala is uniquely positioned in a sector where lots of E-commerce players are struggling. I am excited about our partnership and look forward to seeing this promising company expand.

Doodhwala is soon looking to close its Series A round. The startup will use its current funding to upgrade its technology, further penetrate the market, and grow its team size.

Aakash Agarwal, Co Founder, Doodhwala said

Morning delivery is an efficient model as it’s becoming the answer for consumers to buy products they need daily. We have 80 percent customer retention, and we are expecting the figure to increase in the next few months.

Our subscription model is the magic formula for customer loyalty, predictable income, user information and low inventory. It, additionally, gives customers the assurance that they will have what they need before they need it.

About Doodhwala

Doodhwala is a Bengaluru-based online grocer that is digitizing the traditional doodhwalas.  Doodhwala is the only app in Bengaluru and Pune to deliver fresh farm milk directly to houses. Besides milk the start up offers a variety of groceries, fresh poultry, veggies, fruits and household essentials at MRP. Founded in 2015 by Aakash Agarwal and Ebrahim Akbari, Doodhwala, is present in Bengaluru and Pune. For more details, please visit Doodhwala

Fin-tech is having a huge impact on the financial services in India. It has been largely dominated by the lending and payments companies in India. Initiatives like the India Stack [UPI, e-KYC, Aadhar] by National Payments Corporation Of India [NPCI] have been instrumental in leading the Fin-tech revolution.

Image Source – Fin-tech

There are several companies in the Fin-tech sector that have innovative business models in the areas like Wealth Management [WealthApp], Digital Payments & other services [Paytm, Freecharge, etc.], Payment Banks [Paytm, Airtel, FINO], P2P Lending [i2iFunding, Lendbox, i-lend, etc.], Personal Finance Services [BankBazaar, Capital Float, etc.], Alternate/Unsecured Lending [Qbera, Loan Frame, etc.], Lending based on Credit-Line [MoneyTap], etc. Many of the fin-tech companies are leveraging Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Social Data Intelligence, Blockchain, etc. in order to solve critical business problems. For example, with the help of AI, contextual data and transaction data, your wealth managers can now come up with a ‘more relevant’ financial plan that suits your requirements.

With the rising interest in fin-tech, there is a constant debate on whether Fin-tech would kill banks, but the fact of the matter is that mainstream financial institutions are also embracing change by inking partnerships with these players in order to utilize their services. Even after eKYC, there are significant challenges [that add up to delay] in customer onboarding, a problem that is being solved by few fin-tech start-ups. There is been a rising investor interest in this sector, with fin-tech topping the funding charts of H1 2017. Traditional banking institutions are utilizing this opportunity to co-create innovative solutions with entrepreneurs for building breakthrough banking products and solutions.

Last July, Axis Bank launched its flagship Accelerator Program for start-ups, the very first Indian Bank to do so. The program is run from Thought Factory, Axis Bank’s co-innovation Lab, which is located in the city of Bengaluru. Axis Bank has partnered with Amazon Internet Services, Payments product company VISA and Singapore based Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation for co-innovating in the rapidly evolving fin-tech space. The core ideology of the lab is #UnimaginedIsUndone. The ThinkTank for Thought Factory comprises of thought leaders, change agents, serial entrepreneurs, namely Sharad Sharma of iSpirit, Manish Chokhani of Enam Holdings, Vishal Gondal of GoQii & Shankar Narayan, a Singapore based serial entrepreneur along with Axis Bank Senior Management that guides the Thought Factory team in its various functions.

Over the past year, Thought Factory has been a major Fin-Tech ecosystem enabler in Bengaluru, hosting multiple events, workshops, international visitors and other corporate clients; thereby enhancing industry-start-up collaboration.

For the first cohort of its Accelerator Program, Axis Bank’s Think Tank, from an application pool of 108, selected six emerging start-ups. Once on-boarded, the start-ups were given a structured mentorship program and access to Axis Bank’s Thought Factory office space. Axis Bank’s aim behind the program was to expedite the overall growth of these emerging start-ups along with exploring novel banking ideas with them. Axis Bank celebrated the Graduation Day of the first cohort start-ups, namely S2Pay, Pally, Perpule, Fin-techLabs, Paymatrix and GIEOM. All these start-ups target different business problems in the areas of Offline mobile payments, Analytics in lending space, Credit in rental space, etc.

Startups pitching their idea to the audience at the Thought Factory

Below are the startups that graduated from the Thought Factory

S2Pay: Enabling Offline mobile Payments [Category – Payments]

S2Pay forms a layer over payments app and enables the end consumer to make secure payments from their mobile app, even when the consumer is offline. The technology is especially useful in remote areas where there is low data connectivity thus making digital payments a reality for everyone. For more information, please visit S2Pay

Pally: AI Stack based Chatbot for Investment Advisory [Category – Investments]

Pally has created a chatbot that on the input of an image of salary slip creates an investment portfolio which maximizes tax saving for the end customer. It uses AI, Machine learning along with other proprietary algorithms to come up with a customized investment plan for each customer. Pally was also selected for the EIR program at KStart. For more information, please visit Pally

Perpule: Self-checkout on mobile app [Category – Payments]

Perpule’s app lets end customers scan the shopped products from their mobile app, and pay from within the app once the list is complete. Perpule integrates with retailer’s campaigns, thus automatically applies discounts/offers on the go. It has partnered with stores like Hypercity, More, Spar etc. For more information, please visit Perpule 1Pay

Fin-techLabs: Analytics in lending [Category – Lending]

Fin-techLabs is a financial technology innovation start-up, with a vision of providing easy access to financing across the world by powering the lending ecosystem with technology. They make the lending process swift and optimized by automating repetitive management tasks like sending emails, managing files, preparing reports, complying with regulations, etc. For more information, please visit Fin-techLabs

Paymatrix: Credit in rental space [Category – Real Estate, Payments, Credit Cards, Liabilities]

Paymatrix is an analytics-driven property rent management platform that is trying to solve the problem of credit involved in Indian rental market via enabling payments to land lords via credit cards. They also help landlords in rent/property management. For more information, please visit Paymatrix

GIEOM: Software solutions on the Cloud [Category – Analytics]

GIEOM is a cloud based software solutions and analytics company. They offer a unique business visualization technology with Intelligent linking that monitors, controls and optimizes Operations while reducing risk and increasing compliance. For more information, please visit GIEOM

The past six months have been very eventful for the start-ups, Perpule won the semifinal round of Next Money Fin-techFinals 2017 and raised a seed funding of USD 650K from Kalaari Capital, S2Pay and GIEOM on-boarded multiple new clients, Fin-techLabs and Paymatrix expanded their services portfolio while Pally evolved in its product idea and expanded its team.

We were invited for the Graduation Day at the Thought Factory, where we pitched some questions to Rajiv Anand, Executive Director of Axis Bank. Below is the brief Q&A round he had with the media/bloggers where he shares his insights about the Thought Factory, impact it has on the fin-tech eco-system, etc.

Axis Bank has always been keen on adoption of technology in its systems and solutions. Besides the Accelerator start-ups, Axis Bank along with the Thought Factory team has been working with other upcoming start-ups too. With Active AI [a Singapore based start-up specializing in AI stack], Bank is building a chatbot that can take banking & customer service to the next level.

Axis Bank’s innovation team is working on recruitment of start-ups for the second cohort of the Accelerator. For a much quicker implementation, Axis Bank is also developing a Development Platform – a sandbox environment of its APIs, which can be used by start-ups.

Additionally, they also conduct a start-up boot camp, a two-month program for grad start-up ideas under its ‘Future of Jobs’ initiative where five student teams of two members each will receive mentorship to convert their ideas into real businesses.

To know more about the Thought Factory Program, its structure etc., drop a mail to thoughtfactory@axisbank.com or visit Thought Factory

The Government of Karnataka in association with SheThePeople.TV will co-locate The Women Entrepreneur Innovation Summit on August 20th at the Elevate 100 Grand Finale. The summit is aimed at supporting women tech entrepreneurs with access to mentoring and funds earmarked for women entrepreneurs. The Government will also provide necessary support in marketing, accounting and legal matters.

More than 350 women entrepreneurs mostly from Bengaluru, Mysuru, Mangaluru, Hubballi and Kalaburagi areas of Karnataka who have registered for Elevate 100 , will participate at the ‘The Women Entrepreneur Innovation Summit’.

ELEVATE 100 is Government of Karnataka’s Flagship Program to identify 100 of the most innovative start-ups in Karnataka kicked-off in July 2017 and has received an overwhelming response from 1700 start-ups across Karnataka. In a first of its kind program, the State Government has held multi city start-up pitches in tier-2 cities – Mangaluru, Kalaburgi, Mysuru and Hubballi to encourage entrepreneurship across the State.

ELEVATE is the brainchild of the Start-up Cell, Karnataka Biotechnology and Information Technology Services [KBITS]. It was launched by the Government of Karnataka in partnership with the Deshpande Foundation, TiE and other Industry Association Partners like ABAI, IESA, ABLE and NASSCOM. The programme currently focuses on a number of diverse sectors, including IT, electronic system design manufacturing, animation visual gaming & comics, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, life sciences, and more.

Commenting on Elevate 100, State IT, BT Minister, Priyank Kharge

We have received a huge response for Elevate 100 across all cities. For the first time, regional pitches were held in tier 2 cities including Mangaluru, Kalaburgi, Mysuru and Hubballi. The competition has been fierce; it’s very exciting to see so many promising startups move to the next round and looking forward to the finals.

At Elevate 100, we are not just providing  start-ups with access to funds but will also help them with access to mentors from their respective industries, networking and business opportunities and support them in important aspects like accounting, legal & emerging technologies.

For more information about Elevate 100, please visit Elevate 100 Official Page

India is a very diversified country with different cultures and traditions. Every city in India has something unique experience to offer, including the food that each city is known for! However, today’s modern lifestyles and hectic work-life schedules; makes traditional necessities difficult to find. For example, being in Bengaluru it is very difficult to find Misal Pav, the popular Maharashtrian dish. Modern life and its fast pace has taken a toll on our social life that has estranged various communities, scattering them to various distant lands in the search of a better livelihood. But it has left the hearts with a sense of nostalgia, around their socio cultural habits and preferences, longing to belong again to their roots and culture.

This is where Promita Sengupta, an ex-banker & social entrepreneur siezed an opportunity and that is how Cre8comm was born. Cre8comm is India’s first community driven hyperlocal e-commerce marketplace which home-delivers traditional essentials and products to all the diverse communities of India.

It is a marketplace where one can find the most authentic and indigenous products from the varied and diverse communities of India. It provides every community with almost every product – apparel, food from their hometown irrespective of where you live.

Today we have a chat with Promita Sengupta, Founder & Director, Cre8comm. We discuss about Cre8comm, the hyper-local market, opportunities in e-commerce, team building & much more. So let’s get started with the Q&A….

Tell us about Cre8comm, how was the start-up conceptualized and what was the idea behind Cre8comm ?

Cre8comm is India’s first community driven e-commerce marketplace which home-delivers traditional essentials & products to all the diverse communities. The company aims to deliver authentic & special foods, especially those that you are craving for, and we go an extra step by bringing sumptuous traditional dishes and our chefs are locals of the same community.

Considering the popularity of Bengali products, I have noticed people used to travel all across the city and be stuck in traffic for hours to reach CR Park in Delhi, to get authentic Bengali food. This prompted me to start revolutionary service which will address to all communities of India with the plethora of indigenous products.

How does platform work ? How is that you reach your partners and they serve from their own kitchens ?

The entire platform is technology based and all orders are placed online. Cre8comm home delivers traditional essentials and products to all the diverse communities of India. We partner with the best local talent bridging avenues to build relationships in their culturally enriching journeys in delivering to India’s first community services based platform.

This is a service which allows all our partners to serve from their own kitchens. We strongly believe in bringing people together through our socially responsible segment to a socio-cultural platform.

Each of the partners is carefully chosen after having carefully looked at the hygiene and capability to server Cre8comm.  We have a product replacement model in the case of customer complaints which keeps the vendors on their toes. We cater to customer needs, by delivering food items in fresh, raw or cooked categories, traditional apparel, items for a puja samagri for any occasion – be it a marriage or a simply Griha Pravesh, and sweets [Misti]. Our aim is to deliver fresh foods,  preserve its freshness, making life convenient and hassle free.

How do you ensure/maintain the quality of the products being sold on  Cre8comm [since it is eatables and in this category extra care needs to be taken] ?

Each of the partners is carefully chosen after having carefully looked at the hygiene and capability to serve Cre8comm.  We have a product replacement model in the case of customer complaints which keeps the vendors on their toes.

Our hygiene team visits the kitchen [in the case of Cooked food] and shops for raw fresh food. Since we do not have too many vendors, we have been able to fix responsibilities on each to ensure an extra regulatory check.

The challenge is definitely there but we have ensured the quality by keeping lesser number of Vendors. Though it is not be competitive, but it helps keep the quality in check as the vendors do not want to lose lucrative sustainable business.

How did you zero-in on the name Cre8Comm and what were some of the other options that were being explored while naming your startup ?

Considering our vision we were very clear while naming our start-up, as the name itself says Cre8-comm i.e. creating communities.

How does Cre8comm delivering traditional essentials and products to  all the diverse communities of India ?

Cre8comm , based on the community they are catering to, works at the background to do a detailed research on the community, including food habits, culture, music, etc. and then identifies the right kind of vendor for the same.

Contrary to the normal belief of a market place wherein you connect with large number of vendors, we keep our number restricted in order to ensure that we have good response from a quality perspective. Once we are ready with our back ground work including finalising vendors, we go live through social media.

Promita Sengupta -Director, Cre8comm

Can you share details about the competitors of Cre8comm ?

Currently, we don’t have any direct competition. There is no online e-commerce company which does the kind of products we manage. Some online portals are there, but they only handle Raw and Fresh food.

We continue to benchmark ourselves against our own potential and targets. We need to invest in our capabilities to ensure we keep pace with the changing demographic, technology and evolving needs of our customer base.

What are your expansion plans? Please share more about the new initiatives of Cre8comm ?

We are currently focusing on expanding other communities like Oriya, Malayali, and Bihari coming soon. Cre8comm is a diversified community portal, like no other marketplaces in the world. It’s fresh and easily accessible. In the long run, Cre8comm is planning to launch Culture Kitchen which would revolutionize the way meal services are being handled today in the country.

What are your marketing channels & how do you select the next logical place for expansion ?

The Key Marketing channels are:

  • Social Media [Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn]
  • Tele Marketing
  • Reaching out to Condos and Large Offices
  • Connecting with  Restaurants
  • Connecting with Community based Association

What have been the learnings so far and what were some of the biggest challenges in scaling up Cre8comm ?

The key learnings are:

  • Do not compromise on quality, if needed keep cost higher for better quality.
  • Stay very close to the customers. Understand the small needs.
  • Believe your customers. They actually know what they want.

The key challenges are:

  • Logistics. No one does the distance that we cover. So a separate logisitics team was required
  • The right kind of packaging
  • Maintaining the quality of the food
  • Training the Delivery team
  • Keeping system dynamic as per the demands of the situation
  • Being sensitive to people requests

Please share the funding status of Cre8comm & are you looking out for institutional funding ?

We are currently boot strapped and yes looking for Institutional Funding who share our vision.

E-commerce & food-tech as a sector is seeing consolidation [especially vertical e-commerce] and things in horizontal e-commerce are no different, how according to you are things in e-commerce different as compared to what was couple of years back [when e-commerce companies were getting funded based on GMV] ?

e-commerce cannot survive without technology . However the concept of GMV is now gone. It is more on Unit Margins and EBITDA. The investor is keen to see your margins and bottomline.  This will continue for years to come when Investors will likely be more interested where companies can improve shareholder value.

What are some of the parameters your team looks into while selecting vendors for a particular community [Oriya, Bengali, etc.] before onboarding them ?

The Key parameters for checking the vendors are:

  • The offerings
  • Time in Business and customer review
  • If cooked food, we check the Kitchen and see how hygienic they are
  • Professionalism
  • Able to manage credits in the short term
  • Able to cope with the growth of Cre8comm
  • Sustain good quality

Before Cre8comm, you had a social venture [building portable toilets], can you share some of the learnings from that venture since it might be helpful for aspiring social entrepreneurs ?

  • People may talk a lot, but finally not too many wants to put the money in these ventures.
  • Being non-glamourous, the effort is lot more to reach to people.
  • There is a lot of personal satisfaction when small successes show up.
  • Never take people on face value, even if they are very highly placed.Work closely with them and show how your ventures solves a key problem of the society
  • Be ready to face failures as they really are the pillars of success.

You were earlier a banker, social entrepreneur and now e-commerce/food-tech entrepreneur, how do you manage to don so many hats and where do you draw courage from ?

I always wanted my epitaph to read as someone who has tried and not given up on anything.  Besides, the zeal to make a difference in the lives of people in whatever capacity has always been a driving force. I always believe that There’s miles to go before I sleep

A quick piece of advice for all the women entrepreneurs

Starting an entrepreneurial venture is exciting but is not a bed of roses. It is full of challenges. And, being a female entrepreneur it is imperative to develop/nurture the following attributes – Communication, Networking, Ability to delegate, Sales skills and Openness to learn.

Follow your heart. It will always take you in the right direction and never be afraid to take risks in life.

Closing comments for community start-ups ? Please share more about how community driven start-ups are gaining popularity across the country ?

Not many organised community based start-ups are there in the country today. Definitely a void that Cre8comm is trying to fill in. We have just scratched the surface for now. The potential and need is extremely high given the fact that people are moving more & more away from their culture/food, etc. and so is the expertise and knowledge around it.

Our experience shows that if community based products and services are made available in abundance, then the impact can be significant.  A study  has reported that even Amazon has not been able to break the close relationship that people have with the existing unorganised community based services. This could be true for most countries in the world and hence it is an enormous opportunity.

We thank Promita Sengupta for her time and sharing valuable insights with our readers! If you have any questions for her about Cre8Comm, Food Tech, Hyer-local, scaling up, etc., please email them to himanshu.sheth@gmail.com or leave your question in the comments section.

MoneyTap [Earlier coverage – MoneyTap review, Q&A with Bala Parthasarthy], India’s first App-Based Credit Line is now available in Kannada for the people of Bengaluru. MoneyTap, which is offered in partnership with banks, enables consumers to get instant credit from partner banks at the tap of a button on the app. The App was launched in English last year and since then has already issued close to 20 crore in credit in Bengaluru alone. The company is also planning to launch the app in Hindi and Telugu soon.

Largely focusing on the vastly untapped Kannada speaking users, the app will allow Bengalureans to avail up to INR 5 lakhs through an easy eligibility process. The company is enthusiastic about their plans to tap into the local market. According to the 2011 Census, Bengaluru’s population is over 10 million and 71% of the population speaks Kannada.

MoneyTap is available on Android Playstore and is targeted at salaried individuals and self-employed professionals earning more than INR 20,000 per month. MoneyTap evaluates the user’s eligibility in less than 4 minutes after which it provides an instant, real-time decision on the application along with the amount they are eligible for.

Using the credit line, consumers can choose to borrow as little as INR 3000 or as much as INR 5 lakhs or up to their maximum eligibility limit. Customers can decide their own EMI plans with flexible payback periods ranging from 2 months to 3 years. Interest is paid only on the amount borrowed and rates can be as low as 1.25% per month. If the user does not borrow any amount, then no interest needs to be paid. The credit limit also gets topped up once EMIs are paid back.

MoneyTap along with RBL Bank is able to provide its customers, instant decisions and instant access to money, 24/7. All financial transactions such as billing and repayment are directly dealt with the bank but through the MoneyTap App using secure APIs, thus ensuring 100% secure transactions. As an added convenience for shopping needs, a MoneyTap RBL Credit Card is also provided for the user. This is a regular MasterCard Credit Card that is accepted at all locations and for all card purchases – offline and online.

The Bengaluru-based startup recently raised a total of $12.3 million in funding from Sequoia India, NEA & Prime Venture Partners. The credit line is offered in 14 cities across India and the company plans to expand to 50 cities in India by the end of 2017.

Anuj Kacker, Co-Founder, MoneyTap said

We are very enthusiastic about launching our app in Kannada. Bengaluru is one of our biggest markets. Our aim is to reduce the hassles of obtaining credit from banks and in many cases, the paperwork and verification process can delay the process by months. From small business owners to salaried professionals, all require credit at some stage in their life and we want to ensure that credit is available to them whenever they need it, on a tap!

About MoneyTap

MoneyTap is a Bengaluru-based fintech startup, founded by serial entrepreneurs Bala Parthasarathy, Anuj Kacker & Kunal Varma, who are IIT/ISB alumni. Bala has co-founded multiple startups in Silicon Valley including Snapfish (sold to Hewlett Packard), which he helped grow to 100M users and $300M in revenue. After moving to India in 2007, he volunteered for UIDAI under Mr. Nandan Nilekani before starting AngelPrime in 2011 (now Prime Venture Partners) where he helped create companies like ZipDial (sold to Twitter), EZETap, Happay, etc. Kunal (ex Texas Instruments) & Anuj (ex Airtel & JWT) co-founded Tapstart that grew to 300K users and turned profitable in 2 years. MoneyTap works in very close partnerships with various banks and other financial institutions to make the process painless and on-app. For more details, please visit MoneyTap

Vamaship has won one of the most coveted & prestigious Logistics Startup of the Year award at the seventh Annual Entrepreneur Awards 2017.  The Founder & CEO of Vamaship, Bhavik Chinai received the award from the hands of renowned author Gurcharan Das and Ritu Marya, Editor in chief for Franchise India Holdings Pvt. Ltd

These awards aim to recognize and acknowledge the initiative and hard work of various entrepreneurs and their contribution to the society. The awards felicitated the best entrepreneurs from diverse industries in several categories, chosen from 5000+ award nominations and among 2000+ attendees. The event also had an overall presence of 350+ speakers.

Indian author Gurcharan Das, Editor In Chief for Franchise India, Ms. Ritu Marya presenting the Logistics Startup of the Year award to Bhavik Chinai, Founder & CEO of Vamaship

The award recognizes impact made on supply chains, logistics, fulfillment & delivery and companies which have built a business model to make a difference to these areas.

On this occasion, Bhavik Chinai – Founder & CEO, Vamaship stated

I feel honored and humbled for having received this prestigious award. Each Vamashipper strives to enhance the shipping experience for customers every day and a big thank you to the jury for recognizing this commitment.

About Vamaship

Launched in October 2015, Vamaship is a revolution in logistics that connects shippers with industry’s best logistics companies. Vamaship as a market place facilitates shipments to over 10,000 pin codes in India and to 200 countries from India. With a nationwide network of partners, Vamaship brings the best of technology and logistics to create a seamless shipping experience. For more information, please visit Vamaship