Meet the Deuce that built a Company which provides Flexible and Personalised Financial Solutions to it’s Customers
StartupEd had an exclusive interview with Puneet Gupta and Sucharita Mukherjee, founders of Kaleidofin . Kaleidofin is a Financial Tech company that provides access to financial solutions that are safe, fair and transparent.
Read their story below.
What were the early stages of your career?
Puneet Gupta: I would describe myself as a person who is passionate about delivering financial services at scale. I began my career with ICICI Bank where I was a part of the team that started the microfinance practice at the Bank. I directly worked with the then Deputy Managing Director, Nachiket Mor to think through the issues of financial inclusion. Then, I decided to move on from ICICI Bank and set up my first entrepreneurial venture along with some colleagues and friends in the form of the IFMR Trust Group. It was here that I met with my Co-Founder Sucharita Mukherjee.
Sucharita Mukherjee: I am passionate about access to financial services for all. I have done my bachelors from Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University and MBA from IIM Ahmedabad. I believe in “finance for freedom”.
Why did you not want to do a mainstream job? Was the plunge difficult – what went through your mind?
In our case, both of us began our entrepreneurial journeys a while back and honestly, we don’t even remember what a mainstream job looks like now. We both believe that this is the time that we can take a bit of risk with our lives and we intend to give it our best shot in seeing how can we harness the power of finance to help customers meet their real goals in life. The plunge therefore into Kaleidofin was not as difficult. Although it did require massive adjustments to the changed scenario.
How did you arrive at the idea of your venture? What was your ‘Eureka’ moment? Explain the problem statement/ the gap you observed in the market here, and your solution for it.
Over the last decade, we have been working to reach the informal economy in the country either through physical access points or smartphones. Over the course of time, access points to this economy grew and multiplied. More than 100 million credit records have been created over the last five years through this transaction data. The possibilities were further amplified by India stack that allowed the costs to serve customers to drop significantly.
The Eureka moment for us was that “Access is not equal to making financial products work for you”. We feel that we have to make finance work to help them reach the real-life goals of the customers.
Our solutions are aimed at taking away the cognitive load from the customers. We create curated financial solutions for customers by combing one or more financial products to be able to minimize the chances of missing the real goals such as children’s education, marriage etc.
The mission of kaleidofin is to propel under-banked customers towards meeting their real-life goals by providing intuitive and tailored financial solutions.
How did you go about addressing the opportunity, what were some strategies you employed to build traction, get the word out, and acquire customers?
At Kaleidofin, we want to keep the customer at the centre and provide mass tailored solutions that are best suited to meet the customer’s own goals. Thus we are spearheading the move from the traditional product mentality of financial services industry to a customer-centric solutions based offering of financial services that are tailor-made, intuitive to existing behavior, convenient and transparent. Our distribution model is adapted from the B2B2C framework through partnerships with MFIs, banks, NBFCs, corporates etc. This enables us to guide the transition of our customer engagement from merely being an online model to that of “a bricks and clicks” model. Additionally, it also enables us to build scale faster, which also helps reduce costs.
What have been the toughest challenges you’ve faced so far, what has been your biggest success?
Our big challenges have been on working on a tech stack that allows for us to offer multiple financial solutions to customers in a seamless, paperless and cashless manner. Also, Building a strong team, of course, is always a challenge for a startup. While we have made a lot of progress there and have been able to attract top talent, we continue to remain in search of the right people.
What market size are you targeting? Who else is in this space locally? And who is your counterpart or competitor abroad? How do you differentiate from them?
We have started off our operations from rural Bihar, Gujarat, Rajasthan, UP and Tamil Nadu where we have already onboarded 6000+ customers in just ~6 months of operations and looking to rapidly expand. Our key offering is to not offer to offer financial products for sale. Almost all customers across different income segments use savings, credit, and insurance to plan for their goals and manage their risks. Choice of instruments, it’s right proportions is often a very challenging decision to take. We simplify this by offering a single solution that is mapped to customers persona and goal profile.
We may not have a direct competition, we do have indirect competition from various sources where our competition is trying to sell a single solution. For instance, the neighborhood insurance agent selling an endowment or a ULIP policy is a source of competition and at a peripheral level offers a combination of investment and insurance. Our key differentiation comes from offering wealth management services.
What is that one advice you would like to give to all the entrepreneurs who will be reading this interview on StartupEd?
From our experience at Kaleidofin, I can say that the biggest strength of an entrepreneur comes from perseverance. Change is the only constant and it is not always favorable, but a tireless belief in the mission and a never say die attitude is what helps convert the unfavorable environment and half changes into an opportunity. It is equally important to build a team of people who share this belief. A startup team is always more than employees.