YourStory in conversation with Mukesh Kalra & Santosh Navlani, Co-founders, Moneysights
Entrepreneurs Mukesh Kalra and Santosh Navlani recently made big news about drawing investments from Naveen Tewari of InMobi and Blume Ventures. Their venture Moneysights intends to be a path-breaking business idea in the online financial space by doing one vital thing – enabling/empowering users to make financial decisions in the simplest possible way. Personally, this sounds very exciting, as financial product purchases have not been an easy task for me. Let’s get to know what is new about this platform and what got the investors interested.
Tell us about the business idea behind Moneysights and the reasons that led you to start up.
Let me start by giving you the backdrop about the financial space in the country and then, I’ll come to the business idea.
If you look at the financial products in India (especially mutual funds and insurance), people rarely buy them. They are mostly sold. Thanks to the lack of financial literacy, this industry in the offline world has made money only by (purposely) making things complex and opaque. In the online world, almost every website has tons of information. There is so much information that a layman finds it extremely hard to comprehend for taking decisions.
And if you look at the actual customer, she needs simple solutions to her questions. Questions like, out of these thousand product variants, which are the good ones? Out of these good ones, which one suits me? Or things like, I know of this stock. So, is it a good company to invest in? And there are a million such questions.
At Moneysights, we see a big opportunity in answering these simple things and making life easier for people to take decisions that suit them, help them purchase or invest in those products and then, proctively monitor, review, manage those products for them.
We want to be a technology-led, low-cost online distributor of financial products. One look at Moneysights will allow you to experience some very smart innovations. And you will observe that Moneysights is highly differentiated by its relentless focus on simplifying everything.
So, did the business idea evolve simply out of a consumer-led demand for simple, actionable information?
Well, apart from solving the consumer problem, what attracted us to this space are the changing trends in the Indian financial ecosystem itself. Financial regulators like SEBI and IRDA have become obsessed with investor protection. In the last two years, lots of rules have been brought in to curb selling based on wrong information and the focus has been on increasing transparency.
One of the high-impact regulatory measures has been the establishment of an upper limit on sales commissions. The sales commissions have been brought down to such a level that it has become economically unviable to distribute mutual funds through offline channels. That probably explains whyall of us get much fewer ‘cold’ calls from agents selling investment solutions these days.
Moreover, people are increasingly embracing online media to research financial products. And the mutual fund industry itself is working on building an online transaction platform to make the entire transaction/investing process more efficient.
According to an industry report on mutual funds by KPMG, assets under management of mutual fund companies are slated to grow to $430 billion by 2015, which translates into a distribution market size of $2.25 billion.
So, when you look at things in entirety, there is a pervasive consumer problem, a favourable pro-customer and transparent regulatory regime, customers embracing online channels AND an industry itself moving towards online platforms. If you notice, it is a very attractive play from every angle that entrepreneurs look for.
But there are existing platforms in the financial domain. What do you see as the differentiator of Moneysights?
We differentiate ourselves by making things super simple. Our value proposition is that we help our users in simplifying information and interpretation that leads to informed purchase decisions. And these are decisions which our users are confident about, on an ongoing basis.
Let me elaborate on what we mean by simplicity by quoting couple of real-life instances.
As a customer, you always want to be confident about your purchase decisions. Sometimes, the clues to generate that confidence are derived from the brand name, a friend who had referred to it, etc. But when it comes to purchase decisions regarding financial products, these clues to generate confidence rarely work.
Most of the people are always in doubt - Is this mutual fund scheme any good? What is the guarantee that I will, at least, have my principle intact if I check my investment's value after 12 months? What is the chance that I will make a loss? Should I invest all my money into one scheme or should I look for a combination? My past investments are not doing well. What do I do about them? Shall I sell them at a loss? These are the typical questions that cause a lot of stress. More often, this results in either the decision getting postponed or a hasty decision, taken for the sake of getting it over with.
At Moneysights, we want to remove this stress while making decisions. What we have done in last 15-odd months is to develop simple answers to these questions. We have developed our own algorithm that automatically categorizes stocks and mutual funds into various profiles. And we have intuitively laid out the entire product in such a way that you, as a user, will find the answers yourself. We add the requisite confidence that, from all these 1000+ options, these are the ones that suit you. And of course, if you want us to do all the work, we are more than happy to help you actually plan and invest right from Moneysights.com.
And while we do all of this, we ensure that we keep things fun to use and easy to understand. People who use Moneysights say that investing for them is not complex, boring and stressful any more. And they keep telling us one thing - "thank you for making this". We even have a social proof for this. You can check out comments on this blog post here.
What do you perceive as the critical challenge in starting a venture like this?
I think the biggest challenge has been in really simplifying things. It’s almost as if simplifying things is the most complex job in the world! We didn't have a precedent to depend on here. We had 3 iterations on design and finally, we got something which we felt confident about. And now after the launch, we see 100 things that we can simplify further!
Do you see your backgrounds helping you start up?
Everything both of us did as professionals in the past has helped us. Together, we bring in rich experience from marketing consulting, business development, CRM and product development. Plus both of us have worked together at startups like InMobi and burrp.com. We make use of everything we learnt there and we’ll continue to do so.
What do you like most about what you do?
The fact that we are solving a real-world consumer problem is the biggest joy. And more importantly, the solutions that we are building are being loved, appreciated and used by people.
You recently got funded. What, according to you, got your investors excited to put in the money in Moneysights?
Quite frankly, it had to be the same reasons that excited us to do this startup, in the first place.
What can we expect from Moneysights in the coming months?
At the moment, we are gunning for the launch of our online transaction platform for mutual funds. Once that is through, you can expect only one thing - simplicity in all 4 stages of the buying cycle in mutual funds, i.e., evaluation, planning, buying and managing.
With a clear cut agenda of making financial decision-making simple, we at YourStory believe that Moneysights will make headway in this space. But, as it is in these cases, time will prove its efficacy. One thing, though, is clear to us. And that is the passion and single-mindedness that both the founders are bringing into Moneysights.
Shradha Sharma | YourStory | 27th June 2011 | Bangalore