Bengaluru startup Jiraaf enables retail investors earn high-yield returns
In September 2021, Vineet Agrawal and Saurav Ghosh—two finance professionals—launchedto build a convenient and credible platform for everything related to fixed income for investors.
“Traditionally, retail investors have had access to fixed deposits (FDs), real estate, gold, and debt funds in the fixed income space, but other structured fixed income products were available only to the ultra-rich,” Vineet Agrawal, Co-founder, Jiraaf.
As a former executive with the Piramal Fund Management, Vineet saw several big transactions and often felt tempted to invest too. However, like him, several people found the high entry barrier of Rs 1 to Rs 2 crore challenging.
This was the genesis of the Bengaluru-based digitally driven alternate investment startup, which offers alternative fixed-income investment products, including corporate debt, invoice discounting, asset-backed leasing, venture debt and revenue-based financing, etc.
At present, Jiraaf has over 20,000 registered investors on its platform. It caters to investors with portfolios between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 10 crore.
Jiraaf is not an aggregator, Vineet clarifies.
Through its supply side, the startup exclusively originates and curates investment opportunities for retail investors, and its tech-powered solutions make their investment journey and portfolio monitoring convenient.
Lastly, Jiraaf reaches out to its users through online and traditional marketing means to address its customers’ queries.
“We endeavour to simplify learning about new financial products and enable the investors to make a judgement if they would like to invest. Further, post the investment, having a high-quality view of the portfolio remains critical for effective financial planning,” says Co-founder Saurav.
A BITS Pilani and IIM Ahmedabad alumni, the co-founder has 10 years of experience in corporate finance with real estate developers.
How it works
Vineet says, Jiraaf is the first horizontal platform to offer a wide variety of products in the fixed income space, ensuring there is something for every retail investor's financial goals and risk appetite.
These include a tenor ranging from 30 days to three years, and a yield ranging from 8-20%, enabling an investor to create a truly diversified portfolio.
Co-founder Saurav adds, “Each available opportunity on the platform has gone through thorough due diligence, credit assessments, and structuring process.”
Within less than a year, Jiraaf has seen transactions worth over Rs 375 crore on its platform.
Sanjay Guha, the former President - UK and Nordics, Coca-Cola, as well as an angel investor and mentor, who uses the startup, says,
“Jiraaf has truly democratised the debt market for retail investors. It offers a suite of instruments with varied risk and reward profiles to help build a strong portfolio. Transactions and reporting on the portal are hassle-free, and customer service is prompt and efficient.”
While it does not take any subscription charges from the investors, it works on a commission model with its borrowers, i.e., the companies who require capital, which include Aris Infra, Wadhwa, 1K Kirana Bazaar, Everest Fleet, Calpro, Home Credit, etc.
With over 50 employees, Saurav says that Jiraaf’s team has a strong background in financial services across corporate banking, investment banking, private equity, and venture capital.
The startup’s supply side is headed by IIM Lucknow graduate Vikas Bansal, a seasoned banking professional.
The Bengaluru startup aims to expand its team size to 75 before it plans geographical expansion.
In June, Jiraaf raised $7.5 million in a Series A round from Accel Partners, Mankekar Family Office, Aspire Family Office (Dr Bhaskar Shah), and other angel investors.
According to Barath Shankar Subramanian, Partner at Accel Partners, “India has nearly $2 trillion invested in fixed deposits, and the mutual fund industry is sized at $0.5 trillion, which saw a 3X growth in the last five years. Jiraaf addresses a large market gap by offering diversified fixed income products that can form a meaningful part of every investor’s portfolio over the next decade, especially in the forecasted macro-economic scenario.”
Other platforms in this space include Wint Wealth, Grip Invest, and TradeCred, among others.
“Jiraaf remains differentiated, given most of these offerings started as single product vertical focused platforms. We built the team and process to always be a multi-asset platform for portfolio creation,” Vineet explains.
The present and future
According to Saurav, India’s alternate investment market for retail investors is at a nascent stage.
He says, “Studies indicate that alternate investment will grow from 1-2% in an investor’s portfolio to about 20% during this decade, and current market conditions accentuate the need for fixed-income products. India has nearly $2 trillion of fixed deposits, where alternate investments can create a mark.”
“We aim to end the ongoing financial year with Rs 1,000 crore worth of transaction value. We also aim to have over one lakh registered investors by the end of FY23. We see more than a 55% repeat rate from the investors,” Saurav adds.
(This story was updated to correct the names of the startup's clients.)