Setting Trend in the Financial World Samant Sikka, Founder Sqrrl, makes financial services easily accessible.
Samant Sikka is the brainchild behind Sqrrl, an intuitive DIY digital platform for investments that aims at making the youth of the nation inclined towards saving. He is a proficient investor with two decades of experience in the Investment and Asset Management industry. While he is dedicated towards his work, he is equally passionate about playing golf. He keeps himself charged up by playing a few rounds of golf.
After gaining decades of experience across Sales, Business Development, Strategy, Marketing, and technology, it was a natural progression for an enterprising Samant to take on a challenge in the same industry.
Samat Sikka shares his challenges and hurdles of setting up the Sqrrl and his interest of Golf with Daniel Shajan over a coffee.
- How did you become an entrepreneur, can you tell our readers about yourself?
A lot of people think that entrepreneurship is like, you have to do a start-up, I hold this view that entrepreneurship is an attitude. I have actually in my last two decades worked in a corporate life, I have cherished being an entrepreneur within an organization. I must say there is no time in history, that entrepreneurship is so important, especially for corporate world, I think corporate world today needs more employee to start thinking like entrepreneurs not behave like employees, having said that, I think the reason that probably I moved out is a lot of things we have learned are fast becoming redundant, and it’s very critical we need to unlearn and re-learn, as grow older you become less comfortable to change, and I for one of them thought it was an interesting juncture in life to take that call.
- How did your app idea come about?
I realized that Financial services are not easily accessible to the people of our country as it should be. I felt you change the equation by leveraging technology, that’s one of the opportunities, and the other opportunity I found is that financial services historically from the brand perspective have behaved in plain blue strip and serious dome, that’s the branding that they have taken because they wanted to sound serious because it’s about money. We also saw an opportunity to back banking, SQRL to that extend we wanted to reposition ourselves not as financial services company but as an FMCG, (fast moving consumer goods).
- Why Youth should be interested in Financial?
It is very unfortunate that people in our country are not talking about the importance of managing money. I have said these many times; the definition of success is not the ones who make more money, but it is about who manages money. It is very important skill set, to teach kids about the managing money so that when they get their first pay check they can manage it well and I see a great potential in the youth of India.
- When did your app came into existence?
So, we started this journey May 2016, that is when SQRL was incorporated then we started to putproduct and team together and in May 2017 we went live.
- What were the difficulties and hurdles in the start and how did you gather Funds?
First of all, building a business in India is an extremely difficult thing, why I say, because there is so much distraction from the core of what you have to do for the product in terms of the compliance and regulations and it is very big distraction for somebody who is young was wants to start new. I feel every day there are many challenges, like the operational etc, and the whole act of starting new adventure and activities associated with that. Another important one is a product, how do you really make a kick-ass product and how you get the right talent because the end of the day it’s a people’s business, people might think it’s a technology business. First and foremost, the challenge we encounter is put a right team in place, they are number one success behind everything. If you don’t have a right team on place, who are aligned in the vision they are embarking on then there is granted failure.
From funding prospective, given the fact three of us came from the industry, we are three founders,so we boot strapped ourselves in a very clear initial stage. And we didn’t want to raise funds and raising money was a difficult process and would also distract us from the core of the business. Over the three-four months we are reaching the milestones, now we are looking for world traffic and some international funds.
- Tell us experience at the Reliance Genx
Reliance Genx is anaccelerated program run by the reliance industries in partnership with Microsoft, they work with promising founder and ideas, and help them grow and put them in right path. They selected 23 start-ups out of 1200 applicant and we made through the process. In the three months process, where we worked closely with the reliance team, they helped us further sharpen our focus on product, customer segment, on google strategy to grow up.
- Who is your role model?
I don’t have a role model, but I try and learn from everyone. I am a sucker when it comes to learning, I try and observe every single person that I work with, in my office, whether my driver or peon. Because I think everyone does something very unique and how can you pick up which is relevant to me and my intent is to become better every day.
- What are your future plans?
Our future plan is to be better and make use of opportunities as the world is changing very fast we really need to keep adapting and going further. The intent is reach more customers, in March we went vernacular, we are the only platform in the country or maybe in the world which is now in 9 languages which is specifically in financial services. The intent is how do you take this, now that we have identified access is the problem the financial services can be offered to many in the country, we want to try multiple marketing channels, multiple partnerships and also, we are taking approvals for adding new product line.
- You are interested in playing golfs, when do you play and how did this interest develop?
I started playing 7-8 years ago, me and my friend started taking golf session. For the first day I went, second day he came with his father-in-law, and three of us played together, on the third day he didn’t turn up and I played with his father-in-law and learnt some good skills from him and later we became better friends. I think this game is very fascinating and yes, I have been sportsperson all my life and played hockey at the district level. This a game which is equal to a game of life, people think for this we need to be very fit, but it requires one to very focused and mind controlled and I play this once a week.
- Advice for the budding entrepreneurs.
I’m not in a position to give advice, but only thing I can say this, we are living in an amazing world. I keep telling there was an agricultural age, industrial age and then came the technological revolution, now beyond it, and now we live in an imaginative age. You can do anything in this imaginative age and off course get capital for your start-up. Today it more possible to achieve what one imagines.