A discounted investing platform

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RKSV, the discount brokerage, has now rebranded itself to Upstox, and the founders have launched a low-cost, mobile-first stock trading platform. Shortly, the company wants to foray into mutual funds and also service the NRI market.

Mumbai-based Upstox, co-founded by experienced traders Raghu Kumar, his brother Ravi Kumar, and Shrini Viswanath, is a next generation light weight trading platform, which offers a low cost brokerage fee of Rs. 20 per trade for day trades and no fee for delivery trades (when you buy stock and take delivery of that stock). 

The timelines

When the brothers moved to India in 2009, there were only two providers from whom to outsource the trading platform and these required a desktop to download a clunky .exe file.

“They had gotten away with it for years because there was no fresh, new entrant,” says Raghu, who had run an algorithmic trading firm in Chicago from 2006 to 2008, and had been trading along with his brother since his mid-teens.

In May 2011, the company was launched as a discount brokerage under the brand name RKSV. In early 2012, they garnered users with a foray into retail broking, offering unlimited trading for a fixed low price. By September 2014, RKSV hit a trading turnover of Rs. 4,000 crore, thanks to its low-cost, fixed fee model. This was 1 per cent of the turnover at NSE at the time. In February 2016, the company raised a Series-A round of US $4 million led by Kalaari Capital, Ratan Tata and GVK Davix. In May 2016, post the fund-raising, it launched its rebranded trading platform Upstox and Upstox Pro, with a mobile-centric strategy.

The toughest decision the founders had to take was about the bells and whistles that commonly existed on virtually all other trading applications but were not needed. “Those were difficult decisions to make. We also put a lot of effort into ensuring that we got a balanced perspective on product development from traders as well as newbies who had never traded before. It was a great learning lesson for us on how to build a product from scratch,” adds Raghu. 

We also put a lot of effort in ensuring that we got a balanced perspective on product development from traders as well as newbies who had never traded before.

The Opportunity

According to Raghu, the current opportunity in front of them is certainly exciting. Less than two per cent of the population invests in the capital markets, so this is both a fantastic opportunity as well as a curse. There are a lot of factors at play that prevent “logic” from making someone’s decision. “For example, fixed deposits, gold, and real estate have been and continue to be looked upon as fantastic assets to invest in. But the fact remains that investing in stocks outperforms all these asset classes. So educating the user from the ground up becomes vital,” he adds. To address this, Upstox has created an education site, www.tradeacademy.in, which conducts free webinars, workshops, and has almost 100+ free videos that explain the very basics of investing.

In Five Years

Post fund-raising, the founders are focused on building tremendous scale and they want to become the go-to trading and brokerage platform.

The trading platform includes all exchanges; NSE, BSE, F&O, Currency and Commodity. Owing to its visual design, users can easily check their liquidity levels, and the platform offers real time margin monitoring and one-click trades.

Over the next year, Upstox wants to foray into mutual funds and also target the NRI community to trade on its platform, says Raghu as he wraps up.


Venture: Upstox

Focus: Trading platform

Launched in: May 2011

Fund: $4 million in series A from Kalaari Capital, GVK Davix and Ratan Tata in 2016

Meera Srikant has been working with publishers and publications since 1993, writing and editing articles, features and stories across topics. She also blogs and writes poems, novels and short stories during leisure. Writing for The Smart CEO since 2010, she is also a classical dancer.

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