From handling transactions worth US$1 Billion to coupling her passion for finance and retail to Co-Found StashFin, Shruti Aggarwal is explaining her journey and the intricacies involved in the world of Fintech.
Edited Excerpts of the Accomplished Women Series Episode 04
Would you like to describe the factor which directed you to the world of finance?
Coming from a typical business family, I have always been interested in finance. From studying in an all-girl school, I went to study in a Co-Ed college i.e., SRCC followed by Lady Shriram College. The only condition that my father told me for going to SRCC was that only if I do my Chartered Accountancy. Little did he know that I can still do my CA and find my husband in college and all these together kept my interest building in the finance domain.
I worked with Price Waterhouse Coopers and I went to study at Columbia University thinking that I have a passion for non-profits. After my studies there, I merged my not-for-profit learnings with Bank of America Merrill Lynch where I did the billion dollar deal for the state of Massachusetts and then little did I realize that I might have an interest in retail as well.
I ventured into my next startup into retail for swimwear. Then, I missed finance. Later, I came back to India and I saw Tushar Aggarwal was starting a new fintech app- StashFin. My two passion i.e., Finance and Retail came together with StashFin.
How did you manage to position StashFin as a competitive force in the market?
India is a pretty credit staffed country. I lived in the US for 13 years and getting a credit card, home loan and even a phone required credit imprint. When I moved back to India, I got rejected by American Express twice and I was surprised as people with my experience and also, being a Chartered Accountant my application getting rejected as it shouldn’t be so hard for CAs to get a Credit Card access.
Then I wondered what happens to the folks who live at the fringe of the society. How do they manage? How can they be aspirational? And then, we decided to position StashFin as it is all about financial inclusion. We want to be responsible lenders. We give small ticket size loans to people and make them payback voluntarily.
Then, we give them flexibility. Today, if you are eligible to get a loan for Rs 100,000/- you may not require the entire amount. You may only need Rs 20,000/- for either to put a down payment for a bike you are looking to buy or buy a second hand vehicle.
For this, you cannot go to a bank to take a 20,000/- rupees loan and credit cards are expensive to pay cash on. Then, the third option is to go to an unorganized lender. So, we offered the liberty to the customer to take control of their own destiny.
Recently, we saw a major scam involving fintech apps. Did it affect your presence in the market?
I think what RBI is doing is phenomenal as it is coming down on folks who charge high interest rate for loans and Google has delisted nearly 500 such money lending apps. And StashFin has no impact of this. As a company, we are good and we wish to fix the consumer issues as we go forward.
How would you define your audience and how different are you serving them?
A typical StashFin would be someone who worked for 2-3 years and has enough income and underbanked. We focus on the income group which knows how to manage their finances and the average age of our typical client would be 26.
In your opinion, what is the roadmap for Fintech startups in India in the near future and what would be the role of woman in this space?
Fintech India is a leader in the world. The Modi government has done a phenomenal job is positioning it first. We being a credit staffed economy; there are enough growth prospects for various players here. You could be a bank, NBFC or just a Fintech player with deregulations there is so much to growth.
We wish to see more women to work in our company. Right now, it is 40 percent women in our company and we want to make it 50 in the near future. We wish other Fintech companies too follow suit and keep women in the forefront.
Many women entrepreneurs are attempting to become successful, but lack of motivation is pulling them back. What is your one advice for them to move ahead in their careers?
Entrepreneurship is a very hard journey. Failing and standing up is very important. Ups and downs do come in life. Just ensure you are ready to learn from your downs and you are ready to stand up again. There is definitely a lot of background noise. Just keep it there and move on. That’s the motivation for you.
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