After more than a decade of starting up for the first time with travel website Ibibo, Ashish Kashyap is back in the Indian startup ecosystem with a new full-stack wealth management startup — INDwealth. Its parent company, Finzoom Investments, recently secured $30 Mn in seed capital from Hong Kong-based Steadview Capital.
In the stealth mode at present, INDwealth will leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to provide a one-stop solution to users to manage their investments, liabilities, future cash flows, and taxation.
Ravi Mehta, the founder and chief information officer of Steadview, believes that the scope of wealth management is no longer restricted to the top of the pyramid and that there is a massive opportunity for technology to democratise wealth management in India across income levels.
“Ashish is a proven entrepreneur who has demonstrated his ability to successfully solve structural industry problems using technology in the travel space, and we are very excited to back him to do the same in wealth management,” said Mehta.
Kashyap’s Second Decade Of Entrepreneurship
In September 2017, Kashyap, the founder and CEO of Ibibo, had resigned as president and co-founder of online travel aggregator MakeMyTrip (MMT). In October 2016, MakeMyTrip announced its merger with smaller rival Ibibo Group in a $720 Mn deal, valuing the combined entity at $1.8 to $2 Bn.
At the time, Kashyap signed a separation agreement and agreed to a non-compete and non-solicitation obligation for a period of two years ending on September 30, 2019.
After his big exit, Kashyap may have been out of sight, but never out of mind, as the Indian startup ecosystem was awaiting his return from the sabbatical. In a conversation after the announcement of the latest funding for INDwealth, Kashyap, however, told Inc42 that there was never a sabbatical.
He hadn’t taken a break but was wracking his brains for his next venture. His course of thought led him to zero in on three options: being a venture capitalist, a healthtech venture, or a fintech startup.
Talking about his thought process on these three possibilities, Ashish Kashyap shared that he felt as a venture capitalist, there would be too many things out of his control. He felt that if he launched his own venture, he would have more control on his destiny.
Then came the choice between healthtech and fintech. Kashyap said he couldn’t find the “delta significance” of launching a startup in healthtech as it needed a deep understanding of the segment, which he didn’t have.
So, it boiled down to fintech, and Kashyap landed on the INDwealth concept based on his pain point — the lack of a full-stack wealth management solution in India.
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“Lack of transparency in the industry, lack of use of technology, and lack of application for asset and liabilities classes along with taxes gave me the push to explore the wealth management space,” said Kashyap.
What Is INDwealth?
Ashish Kashyap told Inc42 that INDwealth’s uniqueness lies in the fact that it will offer a full-stack service as a financial advisor, re-balancing recommendations on investments across asset classes and loans based on data analytics. The service will be backed by tax analytics and tax harvesting strategies.
With an emphasis on “financial democracy” using technology, the company is looking to help users manage their cash flows in a timeline format “transparently”.
Kashyap shared that INDwealth will have an initial focus on the affluent and high net worth individual (HNI) category, given the complexities in this segment, and will later look at providing its services to the middle segment of the pyramid.
With 25 employees already working in its Gurugram head office, INDwealth is also in the process of building a team of certified financial counsellors across India, who will be dedicated to each user family.
With the product launch slated for January 2019 on the web, Android, and ioS, Kashyap has a lot of work ahead of him.
Work has already started with the onboarding of two co-founders, both of whom worked with Ashish Kashyap in Ibibo in different roles at different time periods.
- Pratiksha Dake has joined as co-founder and chief product officer, given her experience in the consumer tech sector in leadership and engineering roles at companies such as Ibibo, Moengage, and Unbxd.
- Varun Bhatia has joined as co-founder and director of engineering and has nearly a decade of experience in the consumer tech industry and in leadership positions at Nimbuzz, Aspiring Minds, Ibibo, and more.
INDwealth has also appointed Amrita Sirohia as senior vice-president, wealth management, with an experience of 14 years from HSBC.
While product development is on with the key co-founding team members in place, INDwealth has also onboarded AI and ML engineers who have been working to develop the platform for the last 45 days.
With the product close to completion, the company is looking at testing it in the next two months till the launch of the platform which will enable users to manage their “financial future”.
Kashyap said, “In the first phase, we are looking at the first thousand customers for feedback and improvement, as we want to ensure our technology system is seamless and the backend is as robust as possible. We are thoroughly testing for security as the platform is also for assets and liabilities management.”
For Kashyap, it is very important that the first thousand customers love the product and Net Promoter Score (NPS) is high.
How Things Have Changed A Decade After Starting Up
A quintessential tech entrepreneur, Ashish Kashyap has donned many hats during the course of his enviable career — from being the country head of Google India and the co-creator of PayU India (which acquired CitrusPay in 2016) to the main architect of the ecommerce business at Indiatimes. He then went on to found Ibibo.
And the change of scenario of a decade is palpable.
We asked Kashyap about the changes in the Indian startup ecosystem from the time he launched Ibibo till today, when he’s working on INDwealth. He emphasised that he’s seen a change in the technology talent as now every engineering problem is solved via ML.
He added that another thing he finds interesting is that people want to become entrepreneurs, have increased risk appetites, and want to participate in an early-stage dream with a view to create a change.
“Another big change is that in the past, execution for things would take time — what we’ve done now in five months would have taken two years at least a decade ago. But that is not the case anymore. Also, the presence of services like AWS (Amazon Web Services) and the open-source stack has helped us a lot,” Kashyap said.
Full-Stack Solutions Vs Mutual Funds Platforms
Over the last few years, individual investors have been increasingly expanding their portfolios to include diverse financial instruments, beyond debt. Mutual funds and equity-linked schemes have made it affordable and convenient for individual investors to invest in market instruments.
The Indian fintech software market is forecast to cross $2.4 Bn by 2020, according to a report by KPMG India and NASSCOM. Some of the other startups in the space are Fisdom, WealthTrust, stock market investments platform Tauro Wealth, Tipbazaar, and Scripbox.
Recently, big Indian companies like Flipkart and Paytm have been testing the waters in the financial advisory or wealth management segment as well. Paytm has set up its financial products arm Paytm Money, which offers leading investment and wealth management products to its users. Flipkart, meanwhile, has silently launched its investment firm, Sabin Advisors, with speculation indicating that all of the company’s investments may be routed through this setup. This clearly indicates that Flipkart is rooting for both a startup investment firm and a wealth management set-up in its camp.
Commenting on the interest of such big players in the space, Ashish Kashyap says, “Paytm, Flipkart, etc are doing wonderful as they are making mutual funds transactions easy. However, we at INDwealth are building up a personal financial advisory agent, across asset classes, what to do with liabilities, tax management, etc.”
From travel to fintech, Ashish Kashyap has had a long, enriching journey. As he enters his next decade of entrepreneurship, he is likely to have a blockbuster in his hands if he is able to execute his full-stack wealth management startup to disrupt the fintech industry.