[Startup Bharat] Chandigarh startup aims to make financial literacy mainstream in Bharat
Bandhul Bansal started trading in the stock market when he was pursuing his engineering course at PEC University of Technology in Chandigarh. He soon began giving friends and colleagues advice on creating their financial portfolios, and realised that finance was his passion.
As a student, he worked on QuadB, a B2B customised apparel startup founded by his batchmate Litesh Gumber.
“I had always enjoyed aiding people in managing their finances and it would have also helped us raise crowdfunding for QuadB,” Bandhul says.
He soon started reaching out to potential clients and began consulting on how to improve their financial portfolios. Within a year in 2016, he decided to bootstrap Finstreet, a personal finance coaching platform to help people understand the different forms of alternative assets. The team pooled in their personal finances to start the company.
The early days
Chandigarh-based Finstreet offers a variety of learning experiences in all fields of investing, be it a high capital investment like real estate investing or a low capital investment like poker staking.
“I got a few clients and began advising them on how to make proper use of their assets. They received great returns on their investments and seemed satisfied with our service. I remember the first time I received a call from my client to thank me. He had (very sceptically) bought QuadB’s shares, and was over the moon when they tripled in value. The sheer joy in his voice was enough to make me realise that this is the job I have always wanted to do,” Bandhul says.
Along with Litesh, Bandhul’s core team comprises college mates Nishant Chawla and Sahil Thakur. The total team size is at 12.
The team had to work to build their reputation as they were college students. They began by providing vital information to the public in a simple, apprehensible manner. They conducted free workshops in colleges to teach students how to manage their finances.
“This helped us initially to build our reputation and scale business. Soon, we were conducting workshops at prestigious institutes like IIT-Delhi, IIT-Bombay, and IIT-Gandhinagar amongst others,” Bandhul explains.
What does Finstreet do?
The online platform offers a wide range of services, including online classes, workshops, events, consultation sessions, and materials like cheat sheets and books for an overall understanding of the industry.
“People can visit our website and choose from the several services available. Finance is a terrible industry for people who are misinformed.
"We focus on providing an uninterrupted line of communication between us and our clients so that we can answer each and every query in detail. This guarantees a 360° understanding. These business ethics are the reason why our clients are always happy and satisfied,” Bandhul says.
He adds that the Finstreet team is targeting the common man and planning to expand into regional languages soon.
In the financial education segment, the startup competes with others like Zerodha, PolicyBazaar, BankBazaar, and others. But Bandhul focuses on the difference, stating that most finance platforms focus on Finance 1.0.
“We educate individuals about new asset classes like cryptocurrency and REITs, in addition to traditional asset classes. These can be smart investments for early investors. Our goal is to take existing financial knowledge, break it up, and present it to our students in a simple, clear manner.
“To this end, we have taken the assistance of social media platforms like YouTube to help us spread our message. Visual aids are a far better medium of teaching, which is why our education model largely focuses on videos to keep learning fun and engaging,” he says.
The business model
The team’s business model consists of online classes, paid and free. Chargeable services include online events, webinars, courses, and workshops.
“During the first couple of years, we focused on strengthening our brand and building credibility amongst people. This did not result in much, in terms of revenue. But it helped us create a strong community that has helped our company’s speedy growth,” Bandhul says.
The team claims to have over 150,000 followers across social media platforms, and over 40,000 people associated through offline channels. Finstreet is focusing on Tier III and IV cities as people there are usually unaware of smart financial planning.
“We have a wide range of services to offer our clients: courses, events, workshops, and so on. These can be free or can cost up to Rs 10,000,” he says.
The team’s target client is anyone who needs financial management, meaning “everyone”.
“We want to help individuals use their assets smartly and create a fluid portfolio that improves their finances. Our business model is dependent on several costs like content development, marketing, and operations. These costs mostly remain fixed. For example, the cost for content development is steady irrespective of the number of courses we sell,” Bandhul says.
He adds that Finstreet has been getting increased traction for its services, with a profit margin of 15 to 20 percent.
“Our future plans include increasing awareness about decentralised finance amongst the common man. Decentralised finance will lead to a revolution in the finance industry and it is important that people understand the true implications to make informed decisions. Apart from a decentralised economy, we will also focus on other lesser-known, yet hugely beneficial asset classes,” he says.
Finstreet’s ultimate goal is to “create a class of individuals who have high financial literacy and remain in tune with all developments in the industry”.
Edited by Teja Lele Desai
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