We as a country have mostly been conventional when it comes to investing. While the stock market is a treacherous journey to be made alone, the bank FD’s hardly provide a substantial movement for your money. This is where a gamut of mutual funds sprouted up in the last few years. The various mutual funds didn’t go unnoticed by the young working class who are more evolved when it comes to financial planning.
Today’s start up Sunday is about one such place that gives the required momentum to your money. Sqrrl is an AI powered technology start up that deals with rather complicated world of investing and financial planning.
We got into talking with Mr. Dhananjay Singh, co-founder of Sqrrl, who perfectly amalgamated the idea of entrepreneurship with financial planning.
What does entrepreneurship mean to you and what is the differentiating factor in an entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurship to me means something that you stand for based on what you believe in. My entrepreneurial journey started after 25 years of experience in corporate. Through my various interactions with entrepreneurs, I found a unique character in them that I wished to imbibe in my journey. Entrepreneurship means defining a problem you intend to solve, being a part of the problem day in day out and making sure that the solution is arrived at.
In my opinion, buying something at ‘X’ and selling it at ‘Y’ and making an arbitrage is not entrepreneurship. The ability to see through problems, deriving a solution and convincing other people to accept the solution is the key trait of an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship is also about leadership. An entrepreneur has the simplest solution to a complex problem. Seeing a picture like no one else sees and being futuristic is what differentiates an entrepreneur.
What is the idea behind starting Sqrrl?
Our society is struggling with the relationship with money. People still do not understand the importance of investment to have a sustainable living. According to statistics a mere 2-3% of Indian population is involved with investment. This means that people still trust only banks to safeguard their funds. With low penetration in the sector, we have the entire lay of the land to target.
In the next 5 years close to 90% population in India will be connected through the digital revolution. This presents a mind boggling opportunity and potential for Sqrrl as a savings and investment platform for the youth. That is how we started!
What were the challenges along the journey of Sqrrl?
When we started our journey, we had a tough time in positioning Sqrrl as a business company or a technology company. This is because the problem we cater to is a business problem but the solution lies in technology. So we defined our DNA as a technology company that is solving a business problem. We use technology and not people in solving the problem of savings and investment for young Indians.
Why are savings and investments important and how does Sqrrl facilitate it?
As digital life kicked in our lives, buying became a behavior. People were lured towards e-commerce which led to reckless spending without worrying about the future. In a fairly young country like India, if the financial trend is towards spending rather than investing, it creates a problem.
At Sqrrl we provide the solution from within by being a part of the game. So if someone wants to buy an i-phone or a Harley, our platform helps them chart a path on how to buy it without loans or borrowings. Since spending will always be a part of life, we encourage mindful spending.
How is Sqrrl different from its competitors?
Looking at the current players in the market, to use their services you need to understand the market dynamics like liquid fund, debt fund, equity fund, balance fund, dividend plan, growth plan, dividend reinvestment plan and so on. In a market place you need to understand these factors.
At Sqrrl you just need to share your needs! Based on the lifestyle of the customer, we work out the best plans for them. At the back end we provide AI powered asset allocation which charts out the best plan for the customer based on their diverse needs.
Why should a customer prefer Sqrrl over banks for investment?
The incentive for a customer is better returns. Under the regulations of RBI, a bank offers 3.5% returns on saving account and around 6% on fixed deposits. Sqrrl being governed by SEBI provides 6-7% returns on its most liquid investment option called Sqrrl Away. There is a staggering statistical difference in the two investments when the sum of investment is high.
Last words of wisdom for budding entrepreneurs?
Being a budding entrepreneur myself, I can say that entrepreneurship is a really engaging mind game. It is not a sprint but a long marathon where you have to show up no matter what. In my experience there is no lucky entrepreneur, only a hard working one.
All you need to have is a problem to solve, a dependable team to back upon, the passion to drive through and the desire to succeed.