How Grip Invest is democratising investment opportunities in lease finance
Making the right investment choices are critical to securing our future and achieving our goals. But often we run out of ideas on how to invest and where to put in our money. Nikhil Aggarwal, Vivek Gulati, and Aashish Jindal too found themselves struggling to make good investments after earning handsome salaries.
The limited opportunities for investments apart from the usual fixed income returns from banks or equity returns made the trio launchin 2020. The startup is a new-age investment platform which aims to democratise investment opportunities and help individuals who are struggling to find new methods of investment and help them grow their wealth.
A diversified investment portfolio
The founders realised that India has a large number of individual investors looking for small ticket investment opportunities that offer decent returns against a moderate to low risk. However, most of the attractive opportunities are reserved for institutional investors or HNIs.
Speaking about the insights that drove the team, Vivek says, “We realised individual investors have limited investment options and most people in India still invest in stocks or make a fixed deposit. Hence, there’s a huge appetite for a non-market linked investment.”
Realising that startups have a requirement of alternative capital when it comes to raising the capital for equity, the trio helped them raise capital for their alternative requirements like assets and inventory. “We are trying to solve two problems together - one with the individual investor from the retail investors side who have very limited investment options today, and the second is leveraging technology and an authentic platform to help startups raise alternative type of capital for their asset deployment and keep their model asset light,” says the co-founder and COO.
To that end, Grip Invest presents a unique investment option of earning a higher fixed income return along with the backing of an asset (lower risk). In addition, they also offer companies an opportunity to reduce operational costs and meet their capital needs without worrying about tough credit requirements by traditional equity providers. The team curates investment opportunities in lease finance by identifying companies looking to lease assets to meet capital needs. They then present these opportunities on their platform for retail investors to participate by investing as minimum as Rs 10,000 for an IRR of 15 percent.
Since it is a unique model, nobody has worked on anything similar in the market today. Another major hurdle was trust. Since capital is involved, trust was a major factor. To alleviate the trust issue, the team focused on those companies with high credit ratings so that their individual investor could trust them.
“When we began, everything was at a zero perimeter - zero company, zero investment, zero number of assets deployed, and zero investors. But in the past year and a half, we have raised more than Rs 160 crore in capital from our retail investors and deployed it to over 65 companies against 160 odd transactions. Today, we have more than 6,500 retail investors who invest regularly on our platform. Around 10 percent of the capital is already being returned to our investors in the form of lease payment, which we do on a monthly basis,” says Vivek.
The team credits this quick success to getting their fundamentals right. They kept working on trust and building a safe model for their investors. Another key reason was the team they built. What started with a team of three is today one of 32 people. “We are fortunate enough to see a one or two percent attrition across the team since the last one and a half years,” he adds.
Building trust with a .in domain
Aashish explained that since their platform caters to resident and non-resident Indian investors and Indian companies, a .in domain seemed best suited for them. He added that since investments are all about trust and transparency, the .in extension helped them in building that from scratch and drive awareness of a unique category of investment that can transform the way people invest. Moreover, they were also able to approach their target audience by rightly optimising the website. “The .in domain allowed us to introduce a completely new-age asset backed non-market linked product and build a strong 150,000+ investors’ community. We’ve also been able to empower 70+ companies in India,” he says.
Like Grip Invest, various companies across sectors have opted for the .in domain name. The National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) has helped various businesses across sectors easily get access to a .in or .Bharat domain. Companies can choose between 22 languages for a domain name after opting for .in and .Bharat.
“In addition, the .in domain helped our website rank top on search engine results, which in turn directed investors’ looking to diversify their portfolio. This one helped us scale rapidly by giving a good 50 percent organic growth to our business. So in any given month, we see about 50 percent of the traffic coming from organic channels. And to add to that, we have at least 25 percent of our investors referring our made-in-India platform to another user,” says the co-founder and CPO.
Big dreams ahead
When Grip Invest started operations a year ago, they were a platform that offered investment opportunities through lease financing. But, within a year, the team expanded their offerings to include a second investment product - inventory finance. Apart from this, they recently launched a new feature that allows users to auto-invest on their digital platform, and they plan to continue to leverage AI and ML to build new features that can facilitate ease-of-transactions.
Sharing his views about the future roadmap, Vivek says, “If any retail investor wants to diversify their capital portfolio or if they're thinking of alternative investments, Grip Invest should be their first choice based on the trust we have built in the market. So that's the agenda.” To this, Aashish adds, “People today are only investing in equity shares, IPOs and that's the mainstream option. But now with the advent of crypto and other alternative options, it provides individuals opportunities which were not available earlier. What Grip Invest provides is asset-backed, non-market return, non-market linked opportunities. And we hope to keep on bringing new opportunities one after another.”
The ‘Shaping India Inc's Online Growth’ series chronicles the journeys of startups and SMEs in India and how creating an online presence on the .in or .Bharat domain powered their success stories.