Meet Vidya Sridharan, software engineer turned entrepreneur innovating in the insurtech space
Ex-Oracle employee Vidya Sridharan, who was the first engineer to join Oracle India under its Server Technologies vertical, talks about her journey of starting Riskcovry, which enables insurance startups to go live.
Vidya Sridharan foundedin 2018 along with Suvendu Prusty, Sorabh Bhandari, and Chiranth Patil after she realised there was a gap in insurtech infrastructure. She founded Riskcovry to enable companies from across industries to offer digital insurance products and services to their end customers.
Through its ‘insurance in a box’ value proposition, the startup claims that it provides all the necessary building blocks for its partners to offer insurance to their customers. These include products underwritten by prominent insurers, technology to manage customer touchpoints, and digital processes for policy issuance, management, and claims – all under one roof.
Vidya comes with a rich experience of working in global giants like Oracle, McAfee, TCS, Intuit, and Unilever. In fact, she joined Oracle India as the first engineer in India under its Server Technologies vertical.
Seed of entrepreneurship
A pioneer in the backend, cloud and security-based technologies, Vidya moved from corporate to entrepreneurship while working at a startup, Milofy – funded by Accel partners.
“I realised there that I had a lot to learn and also needed to know about pricing, valuation, costing etc. So, I joined a full-fledged MBA course jointly offered by NTU Singapore and UC Berkeley – with a specialisation on ASEAN entrepreneurship. That’s when I started thinking about starting up,” Vidya tells HerStory.
She is also part of a corpus fund belonging to ex-Oracle employees. Her experience of conducting due diligence on companies for potential investment gave her a better perspective on entrepreneurship and the risks associated with it. “So, I jumped into founding startups after working in the corporate world as well as the investment world,” she adds.
Riskcovry allows insurance startups to go live within hours with its API-in-a-box product while also managing the regulatory and compliance requirements, business insights and AI within its Infrastructure.
Vidya claims, “We are the fastest growing startup in India in our space of 'insurtech infrastructure', which we define as a one-stop shop platform that can enable omnichannel distribution (DIY, assisted, embedded) for any business, across any insurance product (retail, micro group sachet etc) and insurer (health, general, life).”
Founded as a bootstrapped startup, Riskcovry closed a $5.3 million Series A funding round in March 2021 led by Omidyar Network India, with participation from new investors Pentathlon Ventures and DMI Sparkle. It also raised funds from Bharat Fund, Varanium Capital, and Better Capital in 2020.
The insurtech space is buzzing with PolicyBazaar — the first mover in theindsutry — along with startups including ACKO, OneAssure, Probus, and Renewbuy that are solving insurance-related issues.
Insurtech fundings in the country have increased from merely $11 million in 2016 to a whopping $287 million in 2020, according to a report by the India InsurTech Association (IIA).
Riskcovry’s customers range from mainstream distributors like banks, NBFCs, and brokers, to alternative players who are new to insurance distribution such as retail, payment networks, and digital, telecom, fintech, and tech startups. It claims to have around 50 clients as of now.
Earlier in February, one of its other co-founders, Chiranth, told YourStory that the startup is growing at 100 percent every year. “The need for insurance has increased given the pandemic and everybody wants to distribute this product digitally,” he said.
Vidya adds, “Riskcovry’s ARR expansion will be driven by further growth in India and accelerating our internal market entry.”
Challenges women face in entrepreneurship
Vidya believes that women are underrepresented in wealth management. “The lack of women entrepreneurs educating themselves in wealth management and how to grow wealth is a major roadblock. Secondly, starting up is a waiting game – it takes a lot of thick skin and efforts for women to fend off criticisms from family members and society,” she explains.
Vidya shares that Riskcovry is conscious of the gender biases that play out in work culture. That’s why the startup was mindful of putting women in charge of more than half of the functions.
She adds, “We practise a culture where there are strict unwritten rules about how we converse with women and about what jokes are allowed. I’m the head of the women's committee that looks into ethical and sexual harassment. While we ensure that our workplace is a lot of fun, gender sensitivity is extremely important.”
There is a dire need for an ecosystem (incubators, accelerators, marketplaces etc) where hands-on mentoring is given to women entrepreneurs by experienced professionals, believes Vidya.
“While many such accelerator programmes do exist, there is a thinly-spread mentoring that happens which is not deep enough for entrepreneurs who are struggling.”
Finally, her top advice to aspiring women entrepreneurs is to follow daily news developments. “This could range from simple news such as political developments, economics, to share market, tech gadgets and sports. The reason behind it is that knowledge acts as a conversation starter in any networking environment and also broadens their perspectives, which has a multiplier effect when your startup needs scaling,” she explains.
Edited by Kanishk Singh