Neeraj Sinha: Tell us about your startup journey…
Ashish Kashyap: I’m very lucky to have faced all versions of the digital explosion in this country. Starting with the Times Group, I had the opportunity as somebody in his late 20’s to build the whole e-commerce stack. I then joined Google India and launched their India-facing operations and got exposed to Silicon Valley. There, I realized that India is only about tech services and nothing else. There was no innovation happening. Nobody was building a single thing or idea of value. Every engineering graduate wanted to join TCS, Satyam or Microsoft and if you’d say ‘startup’, it was something that was looked down upon. When I used to go to Mountain View during my Google stint, I realized everybody wants to build. Every 20, 25,30-year-old wanted to build something. That's when I decided to build Ibibo back in 2007. And that’s when I left my job at Google. It was then that I realised - this was the time to “Make in India.”
Neeraj Sinha: The choice of sectors - from Google to an e-commerce business for the Times, to travel and now INDmoney… How do you decide?
Ashish Kashyap: It is a significant pain area. Lots of banks are solving transactional puzzles like the payment puzzle on UPI. But nobody has truly resolved family-level money management issues. My attempt with INDmoney is to actually help people move towards a better financial future. The question I asked myself is this, “Can I truly help to quantifiably save and improve people’s financial life?” That question is what drove me. Within the larger financial management space, product and service offerings are opaque. The ROI is bad with rampant consumer exploitation. Confusing and expensive investment products are loaded with commissions and huge expense ratios leading to a ‘win-lose’ situation for the customer. So, I asked myself, “Why can’t we have a world of WIN, WIN, WIN?” Where the merchant wins, the customer wins - everybody wins. The consumer’s financial life is broken. Their insurance is elsewhere, banking is elsewhere and expenses are elsewhere. We needed to bring it all together.
Neeraj Sinha: If you had to improve people's financial life, how would you do it?
Ashish Kashyap: That’s the question I asked myself too. Firstly, get them to either optimize expenses, increase income, or deploy the money well. It is important to realize that they need to either start spending less or saving more. All of this could only be done by bringing each requirement together in one place. Today, if we look at simple things like Life Insurance, we need to ask, “Do you need a Life Insurance of 2Cr, 4Cr or 1Cr?” How or why? Nobody knows or tells you. It is being sold like vegetables and fruits.
Neeraj Sinha: Why the name INDmoney?
Ashish Kashyap: If you look at my previous brands, they have quirky names but that makes brand-building harder. INDmoney was chosen because of ‘India’ and in a way it also stands for ‘independence’ – more specifically, making people financially independent. It is also neutral in the sense that it is a platform where we are bringing everything together in just one place. The meaning of IND is actually quite deep - it goes beyond SYNERGY with the country.
Neeraj Sinha: What has been the most memorable thing so far in your journey?
Ashish Kashyap: As we released the product and continue to evolve, the word LOVE is trending. People are passionate about the platform and say, “I love INDmoney.” Customers tell us, “Can you also give me these five more features?” That is how we evolved. Our thinking was, “Let’s solve the deposits problem. Let's solve the remittance problem.” And all of this was told to us by the customer. A lot of stuff that we have built has been co-created with the customers. The customers are saying, “Solve our withdrawal problem”, so we are solving it. They are saying “We want to spend on the Super Saver Account”, so we are solving it. They are requesting, “I want merchant offers”, so we are solving that too. When we launched the product, the kind of love we got was amazing. When we hear the customer say, “Wow... somebody is really solving one of our big pain areas and single-handedly being our money manager”, it truly energizes the team. Apart from this, the way we have scaled and partnered with SBM Bank India has been very memorable.
Neeraj Sinha: How are you able to inspire your team? Why do they choose to stay with you? What's your secret?
Ashish Kashyap: INDmoney has had team members for a very long time through multiple ventures. GoIbibo, PayU and Ibibo. A lot of them, ex-team members. We also have fresh people on board. Who in general, are highly curious folks with high energy and a huge amount of positivity. It really helps us build a great environment for INDmoney.
Neeraj Sinha: How do you stay focused and productive on a daily basis since 2002?
Ashish Kashyap: Through data obsession and learning from data. It's exciting and a dopamine lifter for me. When a transaction happens and we change some text… trying to gauge impact using the data - that just really excites me and the team. Our focus remains chasing key critical data and closely monitoring it like a report card that opens up every day.