Serv’d, a Pune-based startup, has received a $100K grant from Digital Financial Service (DFS) Lab. The company was one among four that had been selected from among 700 applicants worldwide, at a recently concluded boot camp in Tanzania.
DFS Lab is a fintech accelerator funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that identifies startups that have the potential to create an impact across a large number of households in Sub-Saharan Africa, South, and Southeast Asia.
The venture plans to use the funds towards developing tech for new roles as well as driving activation for the existing product.
DFS Lab Director, Dr. Jake Kendall said, “Digital financial services have the power to transform a developing country’s economy profitably and at scale. We are looking for breakthrough ideas with the potential to bring low-income households from the cash economy into the digital financial realm and give them tools to improve their lives”.
The startup was founded by Jatin Agarwal, Tarun Sharma, and Suhas Kelkar, with an initial investment of about $519K (INR 3.5 Cr). Jatin said in a release that the company was also in the process of raising another round from friends and family of $3 Mn (about Rs 20 Cr).
Serv’d is a peer-to-peer platform that allows users to manage payments and terms of contracts for workers in the unorganised segment, like domestic workers, drivers, construction workers etc. This would be done through tie-ups with the relevant service providers.
The last part would be offering customised savings products for these workers. The founders’ intent is to build a social impact venture with high volume low margin transactions that can enable financial inclusion to those at the bottom of the pyramid.
With the help of this platform, a user can update the terms of service and details of the worker on the platform which the Serv’d team would independently verify with the worker. After this, monthly payments can be made through Serv’d directly into the worker’s bank account.
The company was scheduled to launch operations in early 2017, but due to the demonetisation drive, it decided to launch sooner. The company already has a 45-member team in place, which is reaching out to people in the unorganised sector and explaining how its platform works.