Startup Saturday: Where the money is.. does your family know?
When Neha’s (name changed) husband met with a serious two-wheeler accident, not only was she distressed about his survival, but had to tackle an additional problem – money.
Truth was she did not even know how much money they had and where it was.
This set Sandip Sanap, her colleague, thinking.
“No one should ever need to be in that space. If there is money it must be available to the immediate family. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. People are more prone to keeping their finances secret, even from their own families,” says Sanap.
The problem is far more widespread than just a few people guarding their “financial” secrets. According to the RBI at least 64 banks in the country have, collectively, Rs 11,300 crore as “unclaimed amounts”.
This coupled with his friend’s experience set Sanap thinking.
Says he, “ This unclaimed amount is a shocking number and it is then when we realised that how bad the situation would be in other financial areas where asset tracking is even more difficult. Imagine tracking bank lockers, gold and shares.”
The idea of developing an app that would be an investment safeguard was born.
“Our idea is to ensure that details of customer’s investments are well protected and that their beneficiaries know what are the investments that they will be entitled to when the need arises,” Sanap explains.
An IT engineering graduate from COEP, Sandip was always inclined towards entrepreneurship.
“ Since I did not get great marks I did not get recruited on campus. So my friends and I did a project back in 2006 for Raori Vidyapeeth where we developed a software for their electrical contract management,” says Sanap.
Soon after that he got a job and worked for 11 years.
Then in 2018, he witnessed his friend’s predicament with her husband’s investments.
“For about 10 months, my co-founders Kalpana Bajkar, Prachi Deshpande, and myself, worked on developing the app. We spoke to almost 400 people asking them about their investment info and whether they had shared it with their families or made a will that would make things easy. A total of 330 out 400 had not.
“The problem in our country is the attitude. We do not want to think of what will happen when we die or are lying unconscious in a hospital. And therein lies the root of the problem,” says Sanap.
Nevertheless, they forged ahead and three months ago the trio incorporated their company, Investment Safeguard Finances.
Developing the app and promoting it cost the founders Rs 15 lakh.
Says Sanap, “We raised Rs 22 lakh from friends and family. While most of the money was spent on developing the technology, a significant portion went into marketing as well.”
The app allows a user to register three investments and one family member for free for the first six months. After that, one can choose the paid version where s/he pays a user fee of Rs 499 per annum, wherein the user gets to register an unlimited number of investments, as well as, unlimited accesses.
One can choose to simply list their investments or alternatively provide details like policy number, agent who is handling it and so on.
How this helps is the follow up that the company does. “Every 15 days to a month, we will contact the user to find out if all is well. If say he is unconscious in a hospital then we do a quick KYC with his family member or next of kin, as provided by him and inform them regarding the investments,” says Sanap.
“If the user has changes to make in his details such as change of address, then we include that too. According to the IRDA most people fail to inform banks and insurance companies regarding their change in address which further complicates the problem,” says Sanap.
“We tested the Beta version with 20 of our friends and relatives. They were quite happy with it. So last month we officially launched our app and did our social media marketing,” says Sanap
The Investment Safeguard app is now available on the Google play store and with a marketing push it has 400 downloads and 75 active users.
The current challenge is not just awareness about the app, but also to create an awareness about putting all your investments in an easily accessible and available place.
“Also as we move ahead we noticed the issue of data security. This is a genuine concern. So we hired the services of Valency network to verify our data security. They ran checks, much like a hacker, and found that in the Android version there were 10 leak possibilities and in the iOS version there were 13. This we immediately rectified and now we are sure that the data will be safe,” claims Sanap.
Sanap is confident people will soon realise the importance of this service and start paying. “My friend did not want this app. One day he was diagnosed with a thyroid problem and he realised that he too is mortal. He immediately signed up after that. I guess people will understand the value of this app once they see others using it. After all your money should be available to your loved ones when the need arises,” says Sanap.
At the present, Investment Safeguard has no revenue. The iOS version is ready to go live and after that, Sanap aims to tie up with National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL) the Indian central securities depository based in Mumbai. “This is a central body and it will make things easy for our customers. They won’t have to physically register all their investments. Once they give their stocks and other investment numbers the details will be automatically uploaded from the NSDL site,” says Sanap.
He also plans to get into the business of providing his customers with the facility of an e-will. After all, no family should lose their investments to the RBI’s kitty.