[Funding alert] After two years in stealth, ex-InMobi team launches fintech startup Bright Money, raises $31M

Fintech startup Bright Money helps people take better financial decisions, reduce debt, and build wealth. The AI-powered startup has secured $31 million in funding from Sequoia Capital India, Falcon Edge Capital, and Hummingbird Ventures.
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Avi Patchava, an Oxford University graduate; Varun Modi, an AI engineer with a decade of experience; Avinash Ramakanth, a big data engineer; and Amit Bendale, a senior data scientist with several publications and patents to his name; have one thing in common: they were core engineers and data scientists at InMobi.

Now, they comprise the core founding team of fintech startup Bright Money.

Founded in 2019, the startup is based out of San Francisco and Bengaluru, and has been in stealth mode for two years. On Thursday, Bright Money announced its launch along with a fund raise of $31 million from Sequoia Capital India, Falcon Edge Capital, and Hummingbird Ventures.

The startup has also assembled a strong set of angel investors, including Naveen Tewari and Abhay Singhal of InMobi, Kunal Shah of CRED, Jitendra Gupta of Jupiter, Gunjan Soni of Zalora, Pradeep Parameswaran of Uber, and Ram Shriram, a technology investor who is one of the first investors in Google and currently on the board of Alphabet.

Bright Money aims to use data science to build and scale a “consumer fintech startup for the world from India”, and will use the funding to expand its teams and product suite across markets.

"We feel now is a good time to talk about it; we have seen the value it has added to the life of the consumers," said Varun in a conversation with YourStory

“Bright Money has invested in building a unique technology-led solution to help consumers manage their money and reduce debt. The business of consumer debt and savings is ripe for innovation, to deliver real value and simplicity to users looking to improve their financial lives,” said Ram Shriram, Founder and Managing Partner, Sherpalo Ventures.

The Bright Money founding team also includes Petko Plachkov, a financial services veteran, formerly with Mckinsey, and Alex Seyfert, a consumer tech product leader from Amazon.

The Bright Money team believes the future of financial services is 'personalised advice'

What does the product do?

MoneyScience is a patented AI platform, and uses thousands of data points on each consumer's financial life and 34 algorithms to build highly customised financial plans for users.

The MoneyScience system was built over two years by leading AI and machine learning experts from the ground up, combining fundamental AI technology from other industries (adtech, entertainment, robotics, industrial automation) with personal finance best practices.

The outcomes are simple, understandable, and high impact plans, which are uniquely tailored to each individual. Currently, such hyper-personalised planning is only available from professional financial planners who charge a high price.

Speaking of how they got the idea, Varun said, “Avi and I have been working with data problems at InMobi, and we applied it to radical domains. We wanted to build a data-science first product for a real problem.”

The problem it solves

Varun said Bright Money “is adding value with a data-first approach” by looking deeper at pre-existing problems.

“We found that in the US, people were making transactions of over $3 trillion through credit cards. Of that, a whopping $1 trillion was the standing average loan for people; they were paying more than $150 billion in interest and fees. Credit cards have higher interest rates and we dug deeper,” Varun said. 

“The difference between earnings and expenditure is smaller for middle-income households, and financial management becomes really important. It is important to understand cash flows, track them, understand products, and decide what kind of money movement decisions can be taken,” he added.

Bright Money does not give users more loans or a one-size-fits-all product. It focuses on highly individualised planning, including intelligent automated payments that reduce debt and help users to start building wealth fast.

“The future of financial services is personalised advice and products available real time and at scale. Bright has meticulously built an intelligent product that provides every user with contextualised financial suggestions on debt and savings to improve their financial wellbeing.

"We have been very impressed with the product's initial success in driving financial outcomes for its 30,000 users as evidenced through their high retention rates and NPS,” said Harshjit Sethi, MD, Sequoia India.

Avi Patchava, Co-founder, Bright Money, said they set out to launch a unique system powered by data science to help customers organise their finances and tackle their debt.

“The Series A funding will allow us to take our platform to the next level, by providing users with a transformative journey with their money to achieve successful financial futures," Avi said.

Edited by Teja Lele Desai

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