Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the world has experienced a huge increase among retail investors. The pandemic has been something of an influx point for the brokerage industry, as new expert investors rush to create dual or multiple sources of income in the event of loss of employment or any other unforeseen eventuality.
The pandemic has also led to the growth of independent online communities, as more and more people from level II and III regions of India have joined the digital bandwagon. With social isolation and lockdowns, plenty of free time, and a robust Jio network, online communities have gone from a ‘nice to have’ has a ‘must have’.
Serial Entrepreneurs Nikhil Manikanta and Pruthvi Raj Eranti sensed this trend and decided to capitalize on their expertise by launching Based in Bangalore fintech start-upsin 2021.
The platform aims to be a trusted platform leads for potential investors and expertswhere users can get new investment ideas, seek second opinions, learn and invest with other investors.
“We wanted the app to help users learn, invest and grow in the stock market even in the midst of their busy schedules. Our platform is location independent and we work across India “, explains Nikhil.
“Currently we have some basic features – news summarization using ML and AI, industry flash news, aggregation of suggestions from different registered advisors, personalized notifications based on your watchlist and portfolio of different brokers,” he adds.
The platform beta model witnessed 10,000 users, and 85% retention. Features also include a confidence score for each investor on the platform based on the performance of their past suggestions, returns on their trades/ideas; the views of investors on market trends and dedicated rooms to discuss different topics, among others.
Advice from friends
Nikhil and Pruthvifriends who have become entrepreneurs, are IIT Kharagpur old students. This is their second startup together, after building PickQuicka no-code platform that creates mobile apps from wireframes in a very short time.
They are candid when they say that iTribe was born out of their own journey in investing and trading.
“Despite so many tools available to make investing/trading easier, I always went to Pruthvi to learn and ask for suggestions from him. I made good profits and losses too, but I still preferred to go to him for suggestions due to the trust factor.Meanwhile, it also made me curious how others started their stock market journey and started talking about the same to close friends. That’s when I realized that many of them started their journey with the help of a friend or family member,” says Nikhil.
“After more than 10,000 interviews with users in five months in different geographies and different user personalities, we clearly understood that trust was the common factor in all segments,” he adds.
They noted that many people in Tier II and III regions often fall prey to scammers due to a lack of awareness and knowledge. Trustworthy influencers who could help make financial decisions were the need of the hour.
“As MVPs, we’ve created a Facebook group to figure out if people in Tier II and Tier III cities can join in and ask questions or seek advice from other members. To our surprise, this group has grown to 350,000 members today with over 300 questions asked and answered every day. The success of this page pushed us to start creating a product that had answers to questions that the band couldn’t resolve or answer,” says Nikhil.
From a Facebook group run by the founders, iTribe has now grown into a business that employs over 20 people and also aims to be a go-to platform for Gen-Z and millennials who want to gain financial independence by growing their knowledge. . . The user-friendly app is available on Android and iOS.
Asked about the competition, Nikhil is not discouraged and declares: “there are no big players. Several smaller players are working on similar problem statements like Threedots, FrontPage and Trinkerr.
Take off from the ground
Start small Rs 3 million as an initial investment, Nikhil talks about how they got their first customers by talking to them about the problems they were facing in the market, understanding where they stood and working with them to find solutions to solve them.
The personalized approach has helped build customer confidence and scale, and in April this year, the startup raised $1 million in a pre-boot round table of investors such as Incisive companiesand several other angel investors.Kunal Shah ( ),
iTribe plans to deploy the funds to create new technology tools that make frontline adoption much more accessible, accelerating the organizational adaptation needed to deliver results.
The founders are clear that their goal is to become a holistic investment learning platform for stocks, NFTs, mutual funds and beyond, even cryptocurrency.
“We are a pre-revenue business as of now. In the future, users will pay a monthly subscription to access professional features, and we are also planning a ‘pay per review’ model,” says Nikhil.
Appetite for stocks in the world’s second most populous country is growing, and that’s backed by data from India’s top depositories – the National Securities Depository Ltd (NSDL) and SA Central Depository Services (CDSL). According to a study, in March 2021, 1.9 million Demat accounts have been created and a registration 14.2 million new Demat accounts were opened in FY21, almost three times the figure for the previous year.
The pandemic and trade disruptions had clearly paved the way for new investment opportunities, especially from non-metros.
“Creating awareness in Tiers II and III is critical for startups like us that tap into the untapped regions,” says Nikhil.
“We work with registered SEBI advisors and wealth managers to create solutions to help and manage their users. Additionally, we will always look to grow and build our portfolio in the same industry. Additionally, we are applying for a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA license),” he adds.
On how they arrived at their ambitious vision of empowering 70% of India’s population to make informed investment decisions, Nikhil comments, “We are all set to reach 5,00,000 registered users within the next six to eight coming months. Anyone earning between Rs 3 lakh and Rs 15 lakh is our target group.