C S Sudheer was working as the Karnataka Head of a multinational broker firm which was involved in risk management and retail insurance businesses. It was early 2008 and an incident happened which paved the way for IndianMoney. Sudheer was conversing with an auto driver who told him that a sales person from his organization had sold him an insurance policy with a promise that he would get INR 1 lakh after three years if he paid INR 25,000 once. On checking the driver's documents, Sudheer realized that the auto driver was tricked into buying a regular premium unit-linked insurance plan in which he had to pay INR 25,000 for three years.
That incident changed the way Sudheer looked at the insurance industry. He realized that a large section of educated Indians were still financially illiterate, leaving them vulnerable to unethical sales practices of agents. “That is how the idea of IndianMoney.com took shape. The intention was to spread financial literacy and to provide genuine and unbiased financial education to anyone who needs it,” says Sudheer.
Sudheer brought on board Rahul Singh, who is a B.Tech from IIT Roorkee and MBA from Kelly School of Business, Indiana University, to setup the company. It was launched in 2008 with an initial investment of INR 20 lakhs which came from Sudheer's savings. IndianMoney also got Angel investment from Ravindra Krishnappa (founder of Erasmic Venture Fund) and Shekhar Kirani (partner at Accel Partners) in May 2011.
IndianMoney has multiple modes of operation. “We provide the Unique Service of Free Financial Education over the phone to anyone who needs it. All one needs to do is to give a missed call to our helpline number at 022-6181-6111 or fill up the online form on our website requesting for financial assistance,” says Sudheer. Their team of wealth doctors call back and provides financial education/assistance. They also provide free Financial Validation Services, where anyone who is about to finalize an investment and needs an expert second opinion can leave a missed call to their helpline number. “We can complete the circle by connecting the interested consumer to our registered associates. We do so only when the consumer expresses interest in checking out financial products that might satisfy his/her needs,” says Sudheer.
The revenue model is mainly dependent on generating leads for their associates. The consumer is not charged for the education, IndianMoney gets a 'referral fee' for every lead transferred. “We do not charge a 'success fee' and therefore remain unbiased in the whole process regardless of a sale happening or not,” says Sudheer. In terms of growth, the monthly revenue in 2011 was Rs. 2 lakhs, and now IndianMoney.com generates about Rs. 60 lakhs a month. The company also closed their first round of institutional investment in September 2013 from Hyderabad Angels.
IndianMoney is headquartered in Bangalore but has a pan India presence with their registered associates spread across the country. Currently, the team strength stands at 86 employees. Talking of the learning over the years, Sudheer mentions three key points:
1. I realized that my consumers are not my customers
2. Just being passionate about what we are doing will not make the business successful. One must have a strong Business Strategy
3. While building the business, an entrepreneur should not become the engine. He/she should create an independent engine
IndianMoney is now strengthening their fundamentals to build the capacity to provide financial education/advice to 10 lakh unique consumers a year (by FY 16-17).