Backed by Saama Capital and a string of angel investors, 12-month old fintech startup, Fisdom understood and tackled head-on several challenges posed on the customer acquisition front. Its key strategy: deeply understand all types of customer challenges, and solve it one by one.
“As people, we chase money. But once we get it in the bank, we don’t know what to do with it,” points out Anand Dalmia. This fundamental thought led this financial expert (he has been a Director at UBS Bank and a Sr. Vice President at Macquarie Group) to collaborate with SV Subramanya and Ramganesh Iyer to startup a fin-tech venture, Fisdom.
Based out of Bengaluru, the startup founded in 2016, aims to address the five main problems faced by consumers looking for investment options. First is KYC. Being a cumbersome process which requires documentation, it can be intimidating for customers. To tackle this, Fisdom has digitized the entire process. It takes only 30 seconds for the process to be completed, and all one needs is images of the appropriate documents. Second is investment destination choices. There is not much awareness around the various investment products and their implications. During the KYC process, the Fisdom app picks up enough information about the customers and recommends products best suited for their profile. It also makes the selection process simple by avoiding jargons and stating options in simple terms. Third is tracking the money. An online dashboard (designed by the company) makes it easy to keep track of the net worth of customers; also, increasing their engagement on the app. Fourth is redemption. The platform guides the customers on investments which are doing well, ones to redeem from and where to reinvest, if required. And lastly, the secret sauce; the platform also sends push notification to inform customers if an investment should be changed, sends an online request and does the transfer upon getting approval.
Earning Customer Trust
The company was started based on extensive research and personal experiences of the three founders. However, acquiring customers wasn’t easy, especially when they had reservations about using an app with no human interface for selecting an investment option; data security and privacy; and the possibility of Fisdom shutting down. “We tackled this by clearly putting across how the model operates, in ensuring privacy, data and monetary security of the customer’s money,” adds Dalmia. For example, the model operates in a manner that products from different investment companies and the money is directed directly to the investment product. Thus, Fisdom’s presence or absence makes no difference to the investment itself.
“One of the biggest challenges for Fisdom was early-stage customer acquisition. The founding team clearly tackled all customer concerns including privacy, security of money, partnership with banks to build trust and better communication.”
Secondly, apart from investing in sound technology, which ensures data privacy and security, the company has also tied up with banks such as Lakshmi Vilas Bank and Bank of Baroda, to win customer trust. Thirdly, the company has also tied up with large corporates in the IT and Internet space to hold free workshops for employees on personal wealth management, thus creating a brand recall.
Fisdom was rolled out with an initial undisclosed amount of angel funding in 2016, following which it raised a first round of US $500,000 from individual investors such as Aprameya Radhakrishna and Raghunandan G of TaxiForSure, Rob Chandra of Forbes Midas, Sumit Jain of Commonfloor, Vishal Purohit of Wooqer, Gaurav Gupta of Macquarie India, and Atin Kukreja and Debajit Sahu, of Rippledot, Singapore. In October 2016, it raised a second round of US $1.1 million from Saama Capital. “We may seek additional funding at the end of this year,” notes Dalmia.
The company currently has a team of 35 people in two offices; Mumbai and Bengaluru, and the team comprises domain experts and technology experts. Research constitutes an important part of the product development process at Fisdom. Since partnering with banks is a new area for the venture, it is looking to add a team to nurture this relationship and add more partners.
The product too is expected to be upgraded in the next 12 months with new features for insurance and enabling filing of tax returns, thus covering the entire spectrum of finance management.
Though there is competition, Dalmia suggests that the market penetration is low and there is room for expansion. He believes the market is ripe due to demonetization, which has resulted in doubling of members in the last two months. “Regulatory environment is also conducive. And, the number of financial instruments gives investors a large basket to choose from,” opines he. In terms of impact, the company has seen more than one lakh downloads of its app in the last one year, and it has served more than 50,000 customers.
As a part of its scaling up plan, the company has devised a three-pronged strategy – to partner with more banks to reach out to a larger customer base, to add more products to become a one-stop investment platform and, to get into the liability side at some point of time.
Founders: SV Subramanya, Ramganesh Iyer and Anand Dalmia
Concept: Personal wealth management
Investors: Aprameya Radhakrishna and Raghunandan G of TaxiForSure, Rob Chandra of Forbes Midas, Sumit Jain of Commonfloor, Vishal Purohit of Wooqer, Gaurav Gupta of Macquarie India, Atin Kukreja and Debajit Sahu of Rippledot (Singapore), Saama Capital