How fintech startup Siply is helping 400 million underserved Indians save and invest

In 2010, Sousthav Chakrabarty was working as a managing director in a company that helped high net worth individuals (HNIs) invest their money. However, when his father had a heart attack and needed surgery, he had to borrow money from a loan shark to cover medical expenses.

In a conversation with Your story, Sousthav reveals, “When my father had a medical procedure, I had to borrow money from a pawnbroker at around 5% interest per month. He had a dual-chamber pacemaker implant, and the pacemaker itself cost Rs. 4.5 million. »

Although Sousthav was able to get out of this mess, he still remembers the financial helplessness that plagued that time, as well as his childhood growing up. He said he “didn’t find anyone who gave support or guidance to our previous generations”.

In August 2020, Sousthav and his serial founding partner Anil Bhat decided to build their fourth company together, and Siply was created to “provide financial advice to the next generation”.

Siply is a micro-savings app that aims to help India’s underserved masses save and invest from Rs 1. The fintech startup is “making savings micro, flexible and vernacular”.

With Sousthav’s 18 years of banking experience, including stints at Citibank and HDFC, and Anil’s 16 years of technology experience, including a job at Yahoo and top roles at Myntra and Cure.Fit , they believe they can build a fintech that can make a difference to 400 million Indians.

Awareness problem

According to Sousthav, Siply does not target the poorest Indians in the country, but middle-class people who simply lack the guidance and tools to create a financial footprint.

For example, one of Siply’s biggest products is a microloan granted to employees in partnership with their employer. While the company disbursed Rs. 24 crore in February 2022 alone, Sousthav puts the average loan seeker’s income at just Rs. 18,000 per month.

For Sousthav, their approach is different from existing solutions for one simple reason. Siply aims to create products to solve the specific problems faced by their potential customers.

“Siply’s divide is that we’re basically tweaking those products, tailoring those products to those audiences,” Sousthav says.

One example he shared was the technological challenges of creating a financial product for financially illiterate customers, who often don’t know English and use outdated smartphones that no longer receive Android updates.

Sousthav says that Siply must “deliver a product that is not tech-friendly, to people who are not tech-savvy, and on a platform that is not tech-friendly.”

To circumvent this problem, Siply is recruiting heavily in the technical department to solve what it considers to be a purely technological problem, rather than a product or market problem. It has more than doubled its headcount in the past eight months since raising $4 million in August 2021, and is “aggressively hiring” in high-tech roles today.

Additionally, Siply decided to build in vernaculars for the client, rather than trying to isolate early clients who can understand English. To date, he has already created outreach products and content in 11 languages.

Building new investment leads

According to Sousthav, India’s public market growth since March 2020 has been touted as a success for financial inclusion, but the benefits are limited to those with access to and understanding of the market.

For the 400 million people targeted by Siply, Sousthav believes that this boom has made no difference. “They were struggling 10 years ago, they’re struggling today and they’ll probably be struggling in 10 years,” he said.

Besides the regular education and equity options, one of the first unique products Siply offered to potential clients was an investment by Smallcase in Nifty’s top 50 companies for a minimum of Rs 100 per unit.

This product was revolutionary for users because it took advantage of the names of companies that many people had heard of, while significantly reducing the financial requirements for entry.

However, despite this decision and the referral program that has helped Siply grow its user base exponentially over the past six months, Sousthav says only a sixth of its monthly users take advantage of these investment vehicles.

Rather than blindly trying to impose the product on the other five-sixths of its users, Siply instead tries to create new avenues of investment that might interest them. A digital voucher fund for a minimum of Rs 250 per month was launched in January, while a free National Pension Scheme (NPS) account is in preparation for an April launch.

To date, Siply has enabled six million people to take out microloans with a cumulative value of Rs 103 crore or make cumulative investments of more than Rs 175 crore.

With a $25m Series A round nearing completion, including $10m from QI Ventures agreed, Sousthav is looking to scale up what he sees as a successful strategy so far. While he refuses to call Siply a neobank, he’s giving some insight into what he wants the company to become.

The CEO describes the company’s future as “a de facto platform where people come to save money and have a better financial future.”

Sousthav’s passion has paid off as his fintech startup scales.

Siply grew its user base from 250,000 people to six million in eight months, and increased its revenue, including loans and investments, by 40 times over the same period, according to Sousthav.

However, despite this rapid growth, there is still genuine compassion that shines through when Sousthav talks about Siply users.

“I would like people to pay more attention not only to the affluent segment, but also to the aspirational segment. We call them the aspirational segment, not the struggling segment, because they aspire.

Sousthav, Anil and Siply seem to be on a mission to make sure no one has to take out a 5% monthly interest loan to afford to keep their parents alive, and his rapid growth seems to show that Siply is doing it. the right way.

Edited by Teja Lele Desai

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