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Whenever Dhiren Makhija, Kannan Kandappan or Yogesh Joshi travelled overseas they would have to bear the pain of haggling with multiple Forex vendors before identifying the right money changer. When they discussed this with a few more travellers, they realised that the challenge is predominant and there is no easy way to address this pain point.
Prior to this, the trio had brainstormed on a platform to connect buyers and sellers in a different vertical but they could not find the right niche.
“With the recurrence of the money exchange pain while travelling to Chile for the Startup Chile Program, we decided to deep dive into this concept of aggregating Forex vendors in emerging markets,” says Dhiren, Co-founder. Thus was born CashKumar.com.
Zeroing in on the name of the company
“The name is the brain child of Kannan who wanted a name which would stick with the people. With ‘cash’ being the prime instrument here, and ‘kumars’ being ubiquitous across geography as well as easy to spell, made it a favourable name to go ahead with,” adds Dhiren.
“While we were trying to understand the Forex vertical in detail and freeze on how to approach the market, we always knew we wanted a name that would be different and sticky rather than the traditional ones which do not raise any eyebrows. So we spent a lot of time with names and took inputs from friends and forums on what would they associate with the names we had thought of. CashKumar happened to be a sticky name, and more so, people associated the name with a cash advisor,” Kannan explains the rationale behind the name.
“This is a platform which will be applicable to any emerging market and .com is one of the more predominant domains. Since we plan to quickly scale up based on estimates, we wanted the name for our website to be a global one,” he adds.
Kannan and Yogesh Joshi were college mates at IIITB and worked with MNCs in the IT space. But they had the urge to start something exciting.
“We met Dhiren via common friends. He had started a company after his masters from IIM, Ahmedabad, but had to close operations due to personal reasons. As a team, we bring complimentary skills to the table and have explored a few ideas before hitting upon CashKumar which we believe will take us a long way. We also have Megha Nayak, who has worked with the Tata group for close to 6 years, and has joined us recently and comes with some key marketing skills,” says Yogesh about the team coming together.
What is CashKumar?
Cashkumar is an online aggregation platform for Forex vendors to help customers maximize from each Forex transaction, and at the same time help Forex vendors reach a larger customer base.
A customer on Cashkumar places a request for the currency type, quantity etc. which is then shared with registered vendors in the region, post the customer mobile number authentication. The traders have about 15 minutes to respond to this query after which the best bid is shared with the customer. On confirmation by the customer, the coordinates and the contact details are shared with the customer and the trader.
“We have 8-10 traders who are a part of the platform and we are looking at scaling this number quickly. We are using a LAMP Stack on Linode with the application core written using Laravel, a PHP MVC Framework. We have designed a simple interface that is easy to follow. We believe in the principle of enhancing UI/UX through customer feedback, and will continue to do so to make sure the entire experience with CashKumar is delightful. I have personally been taking courses on UI/UX and with inputs from close friends I believe we have put across a very simple and easy to use platform. The traders’ backend is in the form of an inbox which makes it very easy for traders to respond. We will also have a mobile app for the traders soon,” explains Kannan.
Target market, marketing and business model
“Since we are a lean team with limited funds, we are reaching out to potential Forex partners directly. This has been productive in Bangalore and we now intend to replicate this in Mumbai and Pune over the next couple of months. Going forward, we would look at emerging markets where the Forex, as a market, is unorganised with a significant variation in quotes from Forex partners. We have signed up for some leads from different platforms and with the launch today we will go aggressive on social media,” says Megha, who joined recently to look after marketing.
The team is looking at multiple sectors that require the service. “For example, travelling overseas for personal, work related, health or education purposes, requires money exchange. Remittance and Demand Drafts play an important role for students travelling overseas as well as in medical tourism which will be one of our key focuses over the next few months. For every confirmed lead generated and closed by the Forex partner we are working on flat commission percentage on the overall transaction value,” Dhiren says, explaining the business model.
The annual estimated transaction volume in India is close to $35 billion of which 60-65% comes from travel cards and cash. In India, BookmyForex, which follows a different business model as compared to CashKumar, is a well-known Forex online site. The competitor who comes closest to CashKumar’s business model is Nafex.
The team has been a part of the Startup Chile Initiative Gen 9 where they have received a grant of approx $40,000. They are using it to get the right talent on board and also explore the right marketing initiatives. “With some notable traction in the next 3-4 months we plan to raise our seed round by end of this year which will help us scale across multiple cities,” says Dhiren.
The team has launched their website today. Go show them some love and share your feedback in the comments section.