The week that was: from the rise of MPokket student loans to a startup fulfiling rural insurance needs
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Dhruv Washishth realised there was a gap in the Indian startup and VC ecosystem — a need for a younger VC fund managed by younger people.
“The legacy funds have done a great job and have been great mentors, but I think the next decade is going to be about younger Indian founders pushing the envelope, and people who want to go global. To understand their needs, you need a fund that is younger and has worked closely with founders,” Dhruv tells YourStory.
Govind, Surabhi, and Dhruv
To fill this gap, he started Paradigm Shift along with his sister Surabhi Washishth and Govind Mundhra in 2020. The global VC fund backs homegrown startups that can put Indian companies on the world map.
Now from a VC to a stellar lending company that helps students.
Kolkata-based mPokket, founded by Gaurav Jalan in 2015, wants to make it easy for students and young working professionals to access instant loans during times of need. The company provides an easy way for students, the self-employed, and young working professionals to take microloans via its mobile app in order to meet urgent cash requirements.
Gaurav says, as an international student in the US, he was able to get a credit card, which helped him significantly in managing his finances. However, college students in India are not eligible for credit cards or personal loans and are thus unable to obtain credit from traditional financial institutions.
He says, “Given this need, we saw an opportunity to leverage the increasing penetration of smartphones to create an app. Through this app, tech-savvy college students could easily and instantly borrow small amounts of money to meet urgent cash needs.”
Now over a startup impacting small business.
There are many textile companies across India that cater to bulk orders from customers, but not many cater to smaller quantities of fabrics. Online marketplace Fabcurate has set out to solve this problem. Started in July 2020, the Surat-headquartered startup lets customers source any kind of design on a fabric regardless of the quantity.
“We used to get constant inquiries from design students and boutique owners for a particular design on a fabric, but were unable to source as the required quantity was low,” says Sanjay Desai, Director, Fabcurate.
This led Sanjay to think about starting a venture where he could fulfil the demand for customers looking for these kinds of fabrics. Fabcurate is a one-stop-shop online platform where one can place an order for a fabric of any design, which could start as low as one meter, going up to 1,000 meters.
Fabcurate Directors (from left): Ashish Mulani, Sanjay Desai, Sagar Mulani, Satish Panchani and Urvisha Panchani
Now to an entrepreneur who decided to help farmers.
Jatin Singh, a resident of Delhi who comes from a long line of problem-solvers, entered the world of business at 25. Jatin founded his first company, Skymet, an agricultural weather risk manager and data company, which became the stepping stone to his next venture when he realised, upon analysing heaps of data, how weather and climate affected Indian agriculture. When he learnt how little one could control forces of nature such as floods, excessive or very little rainfall, and rising temperatures, Jatin decided to focus his attention on the people that crop losses affected the most — farmers.
With the goal of increasing the penetration of formal financial products and services, and helping farmers cushion themselves against sudden financial losses, he founded GramCover, an agricultural insurance startup.