OneAssist aims to reduce customer anxieties by providing end-to-end data security and cash assistance in the event of loss or theft of wallet, mobile or vital documents. The company has raised U.S. $3.5 million from Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners
All of us have undergone those momentary anxieties when we’ve lost our wallet, mobile or passport documents. While our instinctive reaction has been to call up the bank and block the cards or to register a complaint about the loss of documents, never have we had access to an ‘assistant’ to take care of the next steps. Addressing this gap is OneAssist, an online assistance platform, which provides help in the event of theft of wallet, mobile or vital documents. The company was founded by Gagan Maini and Subrat Pani in 2012. “Having worked in finance, consumer goods and retail for over 20 years, we were looking to build a business which would take care of some key anxieties people face in everyday life. Upon extensive research with consumers, we saw a huge opportunity in the space of assistance and we leveraged it,” says Gagan Maini, co-founder and director, OneAssist Consumer Solutions Pvt. Ltd.
Today, OneAssist is 20 employees strong, with operations spanning across product development, marketing and sales, IT, business development and finance. The company offers wallet, mobile, trip and everyday assistance for an annual membership fee that ranges from Rs. 599 to Rs. 3,299 depending on whether you are a power or privilege customer. Its key clientele includes HDFC bank, MakeMyTrip and Kotak bank, to name a few. Being an online platform, OneAssist’s services are available pan-India.
The company raised its first round of funding to the tune of $ 3.5 million from Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners, in June 2012. The funds were channelised towards basic research, technology, product development, setting up of back-end operations and hiring.
In an official blog post on the Lightspeed Venture Partners’ site, the investors explained their reasoning behind the investment. The fundamental premise is that consumers are willing to pay for peace of mind, convenience and access to assistance in times of emergency. The investors were also convinced about the ability of the founders to deliver on their idea. Maini built the India business for CPP, a global company focused on assisting consumers who lost their credit cards and Pani had built the credit cards business for Kotak.
Structuring a fragmented market
‘How far can we assist you in such panic struck circumstances?’ is the primary concern that OneAssist’s business model is built around. Operating in an annual-fee driven business, the key sustenance factors for the company lie in building partner networks and delivering maximum value for minimal pricing to customers. “We are a relatively new concept. You don’t usually wake up in the morning and say I want WalletAssist. But we want to let people know that it is possible,” says Maini.
Let’s take the example of WalletAssist. If a customer loses his wallet, irrespective of where he is, within or outside the country, all he has to do is call the OneAssist 24/7customer care and inform them about the loss. In turn, the company will immediately block all bank cards, provide a cash buffer (repayable within 28 days) of up to Rs. 40,000 for emergency hotel bills and travel ticket settlement, Rs. 1, 000 for the purchase of new wallet, an additional cash assistance of up to Rs. 25,000 and help replace vital documents such as passports and pan cards. Similarly, in the event of a mobile theft, OneAssist will ensure that the data is immediately erased, back-up data is updated on a new phone provided by it to the customer, a coverage of up to Rs. 3,000 is provided for misuse of SIM card, an emergency message is shot out to friends and family, an anti-virus firewall is installed, a lost phone locator application is installed and an alarm is triggered off when the SIM is changed. While this is a whole gamut of assistance offered, the extent of service varies for a power and privilege customer.
The company has established a partnership with XSecure, an international security solutions company, to develop DocuSafe, a cloud-based software to back-up customer data. “Today, we store things that go beyond financial loss, it’s very personal. While there might be other people who provide data backup services, here we ask, what if somebody else gets hold of that data? Thus, by storing data on DocuSafe, they can be rest assured that the data will be immediately erased in case of loss or theft,” adds Maini.
OneAssist primarily markets its services through its partners, direct mailers to customers and through offline retailers. To elaborate, marketing through channel partners is carried out on three levels. In the case of HDFC bank, when the bank acquires new customers, they are informed about products offered by OneAssist and given the option of availing it. Secondly, existing customers are informed about OneAssist’s products through telemarketing and similar channels. Thirdly, the bank offers OneAssist products as a part of the premium package to its customers.
The biggest challenge that Maini faces in this business is creating awareness among customers about the services offered by the company. “The nature of our services is relatively new to many in India so it becomes more challenging for us to ensure that everybody understands fully well the value that we can deliver,” he says.
A business such as this will always be racing against time and this factor plays an important role in quality service delivery. “To minimise the impact of the problem to a certain extent, we always remind our customers to register their card details and back-up their data with us, so that they can be rest assured that the damage caused during loss or theft can be minimised,” says Maini.
Keeping in mind that the cash buffers offered by OneAssist range from Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 2,00,000, the company has taken measures to ensure that it is not adversely impacted by a credit overload. “Credit overload will not create a dent in our finances because we partner with authorised channels, which ensure that the funding is well covered to handle such a crisis. Simultaneously, we will also be advancing our systems as the customer base increases over the years,” says Maini.
Interestingly, he compares OneAssist’s services to mobile value added services (VAS), the difference being, while services such as games and music are the end itself, OneAssist’s services will be a means to a safer end.
A customer-centric, cash-driven service market will always find the need to scale up and keeping pace with the ever-changing market dynamics is the key priority of the duo, in the coming years. “We will continue to build our platform of services in segments which are very different from where we are right now. Since it’s an annual-fee based business, we want to make sure that our customers find our services engaging and value-driven,” concludes Maini.
OneAssist Consumer Solutions Pvt. Ltd.
Founders: Gagan Maini and Subrat Pani
Products: WalletAssist, MobileAssist, TripAssist, EverydayAssist
Investors: Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners
Concept in brief:
OneAssist is an online assistance platform founded by Gagan Maini and Subrat Pani in 2012. The company is looking to build a business model around serving customers who’ve just lost a mobile phone or a wallet or an important document. Currently, the company offers wallet, mobile, trip and everyday assistance for an annual membership fee that ranges from Rs. 599 to Rs. 3,299, for a power and privilege customer. Today, it is 20 employees strong, with operations spanning across product development, marketing and sales, IT, business development and finance. Its key clientele includes HDFC bank, MakeMyTrip and Kotak bank, to name a few. The company raised its first round of funding to the tune of $ 3.5 million, from Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners, in June 2012. OneAssist primarily markets its services through its partners, direct mailers to customers and through offline retailers.