[Startup Bharat] How fintech startup Finology grew from a YouTube channel to Rs 2.2 Cr annual revenue
Media reports suggest the penetration of the Indian equity market until last year was just about 2.5 percent of the population, against the global average of 40 percent. Two main factors are responsible for this: lack of overall awareness among people, and prevalent mis-selling.
Aiming to solve this problem, Pranjal Kamra, an alumnus of National Institute of Securities Markets (NISM), started, a Raipur, Chhattisgarh-based financial education and investment platform in June 2017. Soon after inception, Pranjal’s childhood friend Priya Jain joined the team as a Co-founder.
“We are trying to solve this problem by addressing the relevant touchpoints of an investor’s lifecycle by facilitating education, advisory, and transaction,” Pranjal says.
Team at Finology
The eureka moment
“Starting Finology was more of an emotional decision to do my bit towards helping society by disseminating financial awareness. My years at NISM were eye-opening and I realised the widespread mis-selling of financial services, most notably in the investment advisory space,” Pranjal tells YourStory.
Pranjal recalls that his roommate at NISM came with vast knowledge in the space and the duo would often discuss the ‘secrets’ of the industry and reasons why most Indians avoided investing in the stock market. “There was no one to handhold them,” he says.
After identifying the problem and searching for relevant solutions, a brainstorming session gave birth to the idea of Finology. Finology began life as a YouTube channel with “almost no traction and went on to become a budding fintech brand”, Pranjal reveals.
But getting to this point wasn’t easy. The first 60 videos did not perform to the founders’ expectations. The team initially faced challenges finding an office space. That is when it approached the Chhattisgarh government and was incubated at the state’s incubation centre.
Gradually Finology got the required traction and is today an SEBI-registered investment advisor company.
Three years since inception, the startup now has a team of 32 employees. “It was a challenge to recruit talent that could support our cause. This was magnified by the Tier II location. But with time, we were able to spot the right talent,” Pranjal says.
How does it work?
Finology offers a complete solution with learning, advisory, and DIY research tools to its users. “The company is striving towards bringing a single-point solution, catering to the different needs of an investor,” Pranjal says.
It provides four different products and services to its customers -- Finbox, Ideabag, Masterplan, and Super Funds. All its offerings follow a ‘No Commission, No Bias’ principle.
Finbox features customised stock recommendations, personalised mutual funds, life, and health insurance, among others. Ideabag is a tailored portfolio of stocks, while Masterplan serves as a personalised investment plan curated by experts. Super Funds is a crafted mutual fund portfolio. These services are charged based on the level of customisation and bouquet of services offered.
Besides this, Finology offers BSE Institute-certified or general certification online courses on value investing, mutual funds, company law and practice, and income-tax filings.
Its recently introduced free stock research tool Ticker works as an equity research assistant. The premium version, Ticker Plus, offers tailored features.
The numbers game
Bootstrapped startup Finology engages directly with clients or customers and charges for its products and services.
“We do not push any product or services. We understand the customer’s needs and suggest the solutions accordingly,” Pranjal explains.
In the last financial year, Finology generated revenue worth Rs 2.2 crore, almost twice the revenue generated in FY19. “The nationwide coronavirus-led lockdown called for many online measures and our active online presence generated great results as the company witnessed a 300 percent jump in revenue in the last two months,” he adds.
In fact, Finology launched its Ticker product during the lockdown and had 50 lakh visits in the first month itself. Finology also conducted special ‘Lockdown Classes’ through YouTube.
A chunk of Finology’s revenue comes from YouTube. The startup acquired its first set of clients or investors from YouTube. Currently, the platform has more than two lakh registered users, along with 20,000 premium or paying customers. The educational platform on YouTube has more than 15 lakh subscribers.
Private equity investments in India are expected to grow by up to 20 percent in 2020. Private equity and venture capital investments had soared 18 percent, reaching $44.2 billion at the end of November 2019, compared to the entire 2018.
Finology competes with the likes of FinTapp, Reuters, Bloomberg, and StockEdge, and plans to continue to remain bootstrapped and preserve its culture.
Talking about raising funds, Pranjal says the company has chosen to remain bootstrapped. He explains,
"Funding will inevitably restrict us from standing apart from the crowd of financial services companies. With funding, we will be forced to cater and appeasing to investors by chasing only short-term goals.”
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)