First Mover Advantage(?), FinTech Opportunities & 10x Value with Ashish Kashyap Founder & CEO INDmoney

Ashish Kashyap, Founder & CEO INDmoney chats with Sanjay Swamy, Managing Partner Prime Venture Partners.

Ashish is the founder of INDmoney. He is also the Founder & ex-CEO of ibibo Group (goibibo, redBus & PayU). Prior to founding ibibo Group, Ashish was the Country Head of Google India, wherein he set up the India facing operations from ground up.

Listen to the podcast to learn about

05:00 - Founding & Scaling the ibibo Group(goibibo, redBus & PayU)

14:30 - Making Financial Services Easily Accessible with INDmoney

29:00 - Cryptocurrency: Regulation & Opportunities

33:00 - 3 Important lessons From 20 yr Journey

36:00 - Entrepreneurship Opportunities in India

Read the complete transcript below

Sanjay Swamy 01:00

Hi, everybody. Welcome to this new episode of Prime Venture Partners podcast. I have with me today Ashish Kashyap, the founder of INDmoney. Many of you in the audience amongst our listeners may already be familiar with and using the service. I’ve known Ashish for a long time, well before his INDmoney days. And it’s a great pleasure to have you on the show, Ashish, welcome.

Ashish Kashyap 01:23

Thank you, Sanjay, for having me over.

Sanjay Swamy 01:26

Great. So Ashish, you’ve been, if I may say, a veteran of this internet economy and seen the evolution of a lot of things in the early days of the internet in India. It’d be great if you could trace a little bit about your journey, and share the early days and what you’ve seen and what brought you to the INDmoney journey.

Ashish Kashyap 01:50

Absolutely. And Sanjay, as I was sharing with you before we started this podcast, I think the common thread between you and me is that we’ve been very fortunate and also, in some sense, struggled to have witnessed the Web1 in India, the Web2, and now entering the Web3. And of course there have been transformational changes during these phases. Right from the problems that we had in the early era of talent, and also execution and deployment of services was really expensive.

And the worst part was that any great idea did not see the light coming out of India made in India because there was just not enough order of users. There was just not enough critical mass of users, which is why you would typically see that there is a company sitting out of US or China without having even set their foot into the country would, just through global network effects of global virality, would’ve captured a space.

So in fact, a lot of ideas during my ibibo incubation days, today’s date have become very large, right? We did this interesting Karaoke feature, which is what looks like TikTok in today’s date. We did these fantasy gamings, which today’s date are very, very large. And there were just not enough consumers back in 2007 or 2008.

So I think the biggest change in my view is twofold. One is that there is now the engineering talent coming out of the colleges want to participate in building valuable services for consumers right here, which in the past they wanted to typically join a software services company or a Microsoft or any of the global multinationals. So I think that’s changed significantly, which means now we have the creator economy in place.

The second thing which I think has shifted and changed significantly is just the sheer volume of users. So I remember getting your first 1000 daily actives or getting your first 100 transacting users was a Herculean task back in version one. Today’s date, you are able to get the feedback loops from the consumers really fast. If you put something valuable, you’re able to get the feedback loops. Those feedback loops help you to iterate and improve and get the feedback loops further, and then massify. It was just very, very hard earlier. And that I think has significantly changed by the sheer volume of users which are there, which was really, really elusive. We always used to have a hope that yes, one day customers will come and revenue models will develop, but I think that’s happened now. That’s the second thing which has changed.

And third, I think deployment of services has just become much easier. So I think these are the three very significant changes. And out of these, I think the first big one being the creator ecosystem is in place now. You have the people wanting to build and truly make in India, and solve local problems. To your other question-

Sanjay Swamy 04:50

Terrific. So let’s talk a little bit about your journey specifically, Ashish, for our audience as well. I think it’s a great macro update that you pointed out. Tell us about your journey, how you got into this space, and the early years.

Ashish Kashyap 05:07

So do you want me to talk about my years building up Goibibo? Or do you want me to talk about why are we building INDmoney?

Sanjay Swamy 05:16

We’ll start with the Ibibo, because you also, I guess, oversaw PayU and things like that as well.

Ashish Kashyap 05:25

No, so I can of course give a quick… So typically from ibibo started as an incubator. The thesis out there was that we will build a prime ventures type of a little fund and we will incubate a lot of businesses, except for that we will kind of help the execution, but given the timing, we pivoted that into what today has become Goibibo. We built Goibibo back in 2009, and made it into a leading online travel aggregator. I’ll talk about the thesis then.

And while I was building Goibibo, and while I was obviously seeing that there are a lot of problem statements and a lot of gaping holes, which exist in the OTA space, like absence of a good, reliable hotel ecosystem, fluctuating prices, very difficult checkouts, payments failing.

At that moment of time, we used to use third party payment gateways for the checkout, and I realized that the success rates are very low, which really meant that the cost of acquisition is very high. And I decided that let’s build our own payment system. And we started integrating with all the banks and that gave birth to Ibibo pay. That’s how, and then that just jumped up success rates from x to 2x, which essentially lowered our cost of acquisition.

And that motivated me to externalize the payments business to other merchants.

So I said, if we can do this for Goibibo, we can do this for hundreds of merchants, for hundreds of other eCommerce players. And we rebranded it to PayU because our then investors, which is Naspers, had bought or invested in payment assets and wanted us to kind of have a unified name. So that’s the only thing that changed. And we branded the Ibibo pay product to PayU and externalized it. And it just became very, very large. One of my learnings there was that it became large on the back of a first principle thinking, which is solving the problem for Goibibo, the anchor merchant. And then subsequently when we acquired redBus and solving the problem for redBus.

So this was a very, very intersected kind of a journey, right? And during this journey, while we were building Goibibo we realized that the hotel space is very broken. If I were to make a booking on an OTA, and I would just try to check into a hotel, the hotelier wouldn’t service the booking. And as a result, we saw the hotelier facing system, which resulted in us basically delivering better pricing and a more reliable hotel booking to consumers. And very quickly we became the largest hotel provider.

During this build out, we saw an opportunity in acquiring redBus. It was a very small but a very beautiful asset, because it converted traffic beautifully. This is back in 2012. And at that point of time, I convinced our investors to give us capital to acquire redBus. It was at that time, a hundred million dollar acquisition, an eye-popping acquisition. In today’s context, that’s like peanuts, but that was perhaps the largest tech acquisition for that time.

Sanjay Swamy 08:37

I still think, even today, a hundred million dollar acquisition is substantial. I mean, there are valuations of companies that go past, but people paying that much money essentially in cash is not that frequent yet.

Ashish Kashyap 08:50

Correct. And it was a very messy acquisition actually because of a lot of human resource problems, right? So on the day seventh of the acquisition, I was sitting in the office with all kinds of human resource problems. Luckily I understood the space well, and I did have people strength at Goibibo to move people around from Goibibo to redBus, and I decided to actually run the company as an operating person for a bit.

But the beautiful part of it is… the acquisition year, if let’s say we are doing 100 transactions a day, in a span of five years we took that by 10 times. We just scaled it beautifully. Lots of learning there, but what we definitely bought into was this high converting engine, which is very difficult to replicate. We of course took that asset to multiple markets, which is Southeast Asia, Latin America. I think in its own right, that asset itself is at least a 2 billion dollar plus valued asset. It’s an amazing asset.

We also built out this whole bus tracking feature, which was a huge pain area, and also created good strong network effects between passengers and bus operators and the third side of the market. But yeah, I mean, I think that actually gave me a huge amount of learnings that acquisitions are not easy things to do. We hear a lot and it needs to be handled in a very mature way. And at the same time, the acquiring company needs to have the maturity and the management strength to be able to digest acquisitions, to make them successful, which is why you actually hear eight to nine acquisitions are failed acquisitions and they’re put underneath the carpet.

So yeah, I’m very proud of doing that difficult acquisition. There was a lot of controversy. There was a lot of infiring, a lot of things which were shocking for me, because I was also experiencing a lot of that stuff for the first time. But I think we handled it well, and the outcome was just amazing because we could also, given the problems, I could take control of the company very quickly and get on top of the game very quickly and then scale it.

And then parallelly, we kept building Goibibo. It became the largest hotel player in the country, and the largest mobile app. The time when we actually beat MakeMyTrip on mobile app was when we launched this beautiful program called GoContacts. It was essentially leveraging the phone graph. So we’d never heard of any kind of viralities and network effects happening in the OTA sector. By introducing the phone graph inside the app, which meant that if-

Sanjay Swamy 11:42

I remember the Deepika Padukone ads.

Ashish Kashyap 11:44

That was actually later, that was actually later. I mean, I personally didn’t believe in investing in movie actors and actresses. I really believe in the growth engine coming from the product. So when we launched the GoContacts program where whenever any of your friends travel, you’re going to make points, which just took off massively. We just saw that our mobile apps are hitting the charts, and we just became the largest mobile app based travel.

Of course, I think there are certain sectors or categories where we still were a close number two, like air ticketing. Holidays we never did, because I personally didn’t believe in that vertical. I believed in this whole unbundling as an opportunity, but yeah, I mean, look, this was very exciting, right? I mean, for me, the learning was that there is absolutely no premium in being a first mover in the market. The premium is on how we innovate? How do we execute faster? How do we serve the consumers better? How do we get the best NPS? How do we get the lower CAC? I think the premium is in aspects such as this, rather than just saying that, okay, I’m the first mover.

Yeah. I mean, I think it was a fun journey building out these good ubiquitous assets, like PayU, redBus, Goibibo. And then finally creating a very positive outcome for all constituents, right? At the end of the day, we as founders need to do that. That’s our fiduciary responsibility. If we have raised capital, if we have people backing us, we want to do that for our investors, we want to do that for our team members. And I feel really proud of having gone through this journey.

Sanjay Swamy 13:25

Super. So now let’s fast forward post, I guess, the merger with MakeMyTrip on the Goibibo side. You moved on, and I know you said there is no real benefit to being the first mover, but INDmoney is kind of the first mover in the space you are in, certainly with the approach. So tell us about, you know, what is INDmoney? How did the idea come about? What does success mean for you in this company and where the company is at today?

Ashish Kashyap 13:50

Yeah. So INDmoney, yeah. So we introduced INDmoney in 2019. And the problem that I wanted to solve was very simple, that consumers, if they have to improve their financial life, they should be able to manage all of their money in one place, right? They cannot have money which is fragmented. They should be able to organize. They should be able to figure out about all kinds of their money categories through a single place. So that was the whole thought process.

The second insight out here was that consumers are lazy. They will not do this data entry somewhere. And to manage the money, it should be all automatic and all connected. That was the second insight.

The third insight for us was that the traditional financial services ecosystem has been very, very non-transparent. And actually is not able to-

Sanjay Swamy 14:43

On non-transparency, actually makes a lot of money because of that.

Ashish Kashyap 14:45

Yeah. So it’s been absolutely non-transparent, and hence you as a customer are losing a lot of money on the table, very basic stuff on the table. So that was a third insight for us. And with that insight, I said, if we could give a product to consumers, which is transparent, which is automatically enabling consumers to bring their financial life together, a single place where they can save their money, they can track their money, they can invest their money. It’ll be very valuable for them because then that same platform will be able to tell them, how do they optimize their financial wellbeing? How do they improve their financial life? How do they improve their retirement goal from trying to retire at 60 to 40? How can they typically purchase their home or a car or whatever goal that they have? Should they need insurance or shouldn’t they need insurance? If they are exposed to a very poor loan, should they be moving out of it or transferring? Should they pay back their home loan, or should they be actually investing that money?

So a lot of these unanswered questions, which actually have mathematical complexities, which are also not solved through Excel, we say, can we provide this in a very dumbed down simple way to the consumers? That was the thinking.

The first cut of the product was very simple. Minimum viable product in 19 was automatic tracking. That’s how we started. And as we executed, our biggest hook became the US stocks where we solved a lot of core structural problems, and the core structural problem there we solved was we realized that people want to invest in Google or Facebook, but they’re unable to do it, number one. Number two, even if they could do it, it’s usually expensive for them to send their money from their native savings account to a US stocks wallet. It’s really expensive. On a 10,000 rupees, a person would end up giving to a traditional bank almost 1500 rupees of fixed fee and another 500 rupees of markup charges. That’s 2000 rupees. So imagine 2000 rupees gone in 10,000 rupees. That’s just horrible.

So we solved that structural problem by saying that let’s become a neo bank ourselves. And when consumers are opening an account with us, then their neo bank is also opening up, their US stocks account is also opening up, and then they can use their neo bank on INDmoney to send money to the US stocks, wallet of INDmoney. And we made that cost zero. We made it fast. In fact, we are testing now insta remittance and all of this through regulated rails of RBI LRS.

This structural problem has actually helped us to really help INDmoney to grow and make this a very hook, so people come for US stocks and then they do many other things. They open their deposit accounts, they do mutual funds. We are very soon launching Indian stocks. They are able to then do their financial planning on the product. But we felt that by solving this hardcore structural problem, we have not only solved a very big problem, but also created a very good hook for the consumers to come into the platform.

So, that’s what INDmoney is. And that was the motivation. And that’s where we are. We are about now more than five million users on the platform. Most of the growth has come actually in the last 12 to 16 months. And we are growing very fast every month. Approximately close to 2 billion dollars of transactions have happened on our platform in the last one year, which also is a significance of trust score of the platform becoming better, or the trust acceleration happening with the platform between consumers and the platform. And we are of course now building many other services for the consumers, which can further improve their financial lives.

Typically many platforms would use payments as a hook. We felt using payments as a hook didn’t make sense, given there’s so many large players in the space, and hence we really chose using US stocks as a hook and tracking as a hook when we have introduced the product in the market.

Sanjay Swamy 18:55

Got it. It’s awesome to see the journey and the pace at which you’re accelerating now. You mentioned the word trust, right? And regardless of what the journey or the product is, right? And obviously in financial products, people are sharing the details of their finances, and perhaps even trusting you with holding their money or deploying their money, trust becomes extremely important.

But we are seeing that with the data businesses, we’re seeing that in pretty much all other businesses as well, the challenge for a startup is really establishing that minimum threshold of trust so that people will try their service out. Given our audience, it would be helpful if you could talk about some techniques that maybe you see in horizontally across other companies, what has worked, what might work better, for people to try out and keep in mind?

Ashish Kashyap 19:50

No, this is a very good question and I would love to share my insights here. So I think the world is all about take and give or give and take, right? So what are we as FinTechs or consumer tech services taking from the consumers, right? We’re taking something from them, right? And there is an effort which the consumer is making.

So put it very simply, let’s say when a consumer is registering on a website or a mobile application, a consumer is making an effort. And the way to accelerate trust relationships is to be able to give back to the consumers. If effort is equal to let’s say 1x, can you give back value, which is 10x or 20x to the consumers. So if a consumer came into your product, he connected his Gmail account to register, he put his first name, second name, there’s an effort.

Now the trick here is that, how do you give back for this effort? How do you give back to the customer 20x value very, very quickly? And just to now draw parallels with INDmoney, when a consumer would come in the early days on INDmoney and he or she would do registration, and we would ask for a permanent account number, PAN number, from the user, and that’s where the big hurdle was and drop off. But against that PAN number, what we gave back to the consumers was very quickly, in few minutes, his financial life, right? That this is what we’re doing. And these are the good things you’re doing, and these are not the great things. These are the insights. And if you were to do these actions, this is the value which will come to you. We believe that that act of giving back to the customer 10x value helped us to create, or to have, trust acceleration between the platform and the customers.

So I think the equation is very simple. If you’re taking 1x from the consumers, give them back 10x. If you’re taking 1x in, if it’s not in units of energy or units of effort, if it is in terms of money or if it is purely in terms of data, right? In this case, he may be giving you a PAN number. The equation is very simple. If you’re going to give back 2x to the consumer, that trust gap won’t happen. You need to give 10 to 20x back to the consumer.

I think that’s the hard question we need to ask ourselves. Are we giving back value very quickly to the consumer or not? The other thing is you cannot be in this fallacy that, okay, the consumer will come and then one day I’ll give him value. So there are certain things you will give him long term value, but the consumer needs to feel value very quickly, right? On D0, D1. If he doesn’t see D0, D1 he will not sustain. Neither will the trust not be built, but also he’ll uninstall the app, right? So hence giving back value very quickly to the consumer is really critical to also build trust.

Sanjay Swamy 22:55

Yeah. So one of the techniques people use a lot is actual cash backs or coupons, or things like that. What are your views on that? I know at certain points in time, perhaps they can drive usage, but we’d love to hear your thoughts.

Ashish Kashyap 23:10

Yeah. So I think in some… So my view is that let’s say when we go back to the Web 2 world where consumers were just beginning to form behavior, their behavior forming was happening. Let’s say people used to not ever hail a cab, as an example, or people would never do a food delivery, or people would not book hotels. So a bit of trials we need to do, and that can be in the form of cash backs. But again, with the methodology that listen, this cash back plus cost of acquisition, or this cash back is nothing but cost of acquisition. It needs to break even. Okay.

But I think today we are in a situation where we as founders and entrepreneurs need to build good economic business, because the consumer is already there, the behavior to use the medium already exists. I think if in some space where the effort to the consumer to shift behavior is a lot, then I wouldn’t mind giving a cash back provided there’s no gaming, which is happening because in India now, if you also give cash back beyond a threshold, there’s gaming that starts, right? So we have to think through well, but if there is some big behavior shift happening that you want to establish, or let’s say if you were taking E is equal to one effort and you need consumer to do equal to five, while the returns to the consumer could be a 100x, I think it’s okay to give some trial cash backs, but one has to do it in a thoughtful way. One has to do it in a manner that, okay, when I do this cash back, this is still a positive unit economics business, right?

I think negative economics business in general, my view is that it’ll be very hard now, right? I think we had a justification in the past that, listen, we need to build consumer behavior to use the medium. I don’t think that’s the case anymore. So, I think very clearly your core business needs to predicate around the core value of the product and not the cash back.

So if I were to do today’s date peer to peer payments, and I say simple maths, 100 rupees cash back, I would be able to collect 20, 30 million users. And honestly that cost of acquisition on paper would also look low, but that’ll be a negative economics business. And the core product has not delivered any 50x, 20x value to the users.

Sanjay Swamy 25:40

Yeah. Great. No, these are really good points I think for startups to think about. Where you’re saying that there is a completely new behavior that you’re trying to establish, then you may have to incentivize people to come and try it out, but where the behavior is already there, then it’s really focused on giving them 10x value rather than sort of buying the business. That’s a great point.

You know, you’ve built big companies and, INDmoney is again, the start right from scratch. What would success feel like for you here? I mean, why are you doing this? You know, certainly, I mean, everybody has different motivations to become an entrepreneur. And I think most people mistakenly think it’s for the money. And I always tell them, there are much faster ways you could get rich if you wanted to do it for the money, but I would love for you to tell people what your motivations are here.

Ashish Kashyap 26:40

Yeah. Look, I mean, I think for me, I just feel that the financial services space, which INDmoney is trying to solve, is very, very broken. I think there has been a lot of innovation which has happened on payments, but other than that, it still continues to be broken, and the rails which are there in the financial services space for many other things, other than UPI, are all very, very broken and still traditional, right? So there is a lot of work to be done.

From my vantage point, I’m just basically motivated that we can make financial services, can we democratize it, right? Can we make it easily accessible? Can we democratize it? Can we make it transparent? Can we just basically uplift people’s financial life? I think there is a huge noble cause behind what I’m doing because just by saving very small basis points for users and by giving them extra basis points, and you are adding that saving and giving that extra basis point just uplifts people’s financial lives because of the power of compounding. So I think the whole INDmoney journey for me is motivated around or predicated around the fact that listen, let’s democratize it. Let’s uplift people’s financial life. Let’s better people’s financial lives, right? And make it easy for them to do so. So, that’s really what excites me. So the whole impact is the biggest driving factor for me.

Sanjay Swamy 28:00

Yeah. I always, I mean, as you know, we do a lot in financial services ourselves, and I think my motivation here is always just to improve people’s lives, and financial success is an outcome to me, it’s rarely a goal. And I think all of us have experiences where we chased it and it didn’t work out, and when we didn’t chase it happened. So I think entrepreneurs also, I think really people need to focus on what problem are they solving and is it a large problem that they’re solving and will the world be a better place? And I think their own financial success will just be an outcome of having done that, right?

Since you’re in the space of money management or finances management, one of the hot topics here over the last 18 months has been the whole crypto space. And we’ve all seen a lot of actions, a lot of talk on the regulatory side, et cetera. What are your thoughts on this? What do you think is the direction we need to go in India and where are we on that journey?

Ashish Kashyap 29:05

Yeah. Look, I mean, first point, I’m with the regulator. There has to be clear regulation. Okay, I’ll just give you an episode, which is as of a few days ago. Somebody impersonated my Instagram account and then started soliciting some crypto money from people. Okay. So this just happened recently, I think. And then we needed to find ways, and I don’t use Instagram that often, so that Instagram impersonated account actually had more followers than I have. So people actually believing that that’s the real account. So I think firstly very clearly-

Sanjay Swamy 29:50

You’ve arrived, somebody’s gone through the trouble of creating a fake Ashish account.

Ashish Kashyap 29:53

It was just a complete copy paste. And including the latest pictures on it. So clearly I think that there has to be regulation, because there are leaks. There are leaks and some of the leaks would be pretty large. So there should be regulation. I think that’s the first thing.

My second point is that crypto in my view is not a local currency. It’s a global currency, much like what we do with US equities, et cetera. So I think it’s not just the fact that crypto should be regulated, but also the movement of the money into the wallet to purchase crypto, that also has to be regulated and checked for sources of income, et cetera. For example, when people are buying INDmoney, INDmoney’s engines are looking at sources of income and doing hundreds of verifications, which just makes everything so kosher. So I think similarly on crypto, I think the movement of money, and ideally the crypto should be bought in I think a global currency, than INR. It’ll be efficient for the users, and the whole movement of the money will get reported much better. I think that’s the second thing.

Third thing, my view is that I think crypto and the use cases around crypto are here to stay for sure, right? I mean, I think it’s going to be a very important currency and perhaps an asset class over a period of time, which basically makes transactions more efficient in the long term. So yeah, I mean, I am a firm believer of crypto, but obviously for me to start jumping into it as an operator, we would definitely need the regulator and the government to definitely regulate it, and create a rule engine around it. And that’s something which I would personally really, really welcome.

Sanjay Swamy 31:50

Terrific. You know that’s actually, I think, the prudent view here, right? I think at the end of the day, you are dealing with money, and as a financial asset that’s the right thing.

So let’s talk outside of work. And I mean, especially since you ran a large travel company, I’m guessing what your answers are going to be, but when you’re not working, what are you doing? What is fun? What do you see as fun?

Ashish Kashyap 32:10

Now look, I mean, three things. I love catching up with friends. So I do catch up with friends and socialize a lot, right? Even during COVID I did so, that didn’t stop me, but of course not in large groups, so yeah. And second I play squash. I love the game. So if I’m not at work, you will find me at the squash court. And the third thing of course is that I love traveling. These are the three things. Travel of course has been very restricted for the last few years, but the first two things are still going strong.

Sanjay Swamy 32:45

And where is your first destination?

Ashish Kashyap 32:50

So yeah, I think the minute things kind of settle down, I definitely want to go back to Tokyo. I like that place. Lots of energy.

Sanjay Swamy 33:00

Wonderful, great. Couple of thoughts on lessons learned over the past 20 years that you’ve been working. But you know, what would the Ashish of today be telling the Ashish of 20 years ago?

Ashish Kashyap 33:15

Yeah, look, I think the first one is that to everyone out there do not undermine legal contracts and paperwork. So when I was younger, I wouldn’t read through legal contracts and paperwork, et cetera. I think one should not undermine, because if you fail, right, nobody cares in any case. And you’ll of course keep trying, but at some point of time if you’re trying, you will succeed, right? And when you succeed, you should have very strong paperwork in place, right? Whatever paperwork, whatever, right? Whether it is a shareholder agreement, whether it is any kind of agreements, but having strong paperwork and agreements between you and your co-founders, between you and your shareholders. I think that’s an important thing. A lot of us coming from the struggling era of internet evolution of India, you kind of ignored that. So I think that’s the first very important lesson that.

Sanjay Swamy 34:15

That’s a really good point. I mean, all of us are so used to also click through accepting terms and conditions, and you’re never taught this in any MBA program, I don’t think. So, contract is critical. What else?

Ashish Kashyap 34:30

Yeah. I think the second thing is that earlier you surround yourself with great people, better it is. And many are times when we look at people, we look at them from the prism of the experience that they have. I think I would basically put a premium on intentions, and premium on evolution than experience, because many times experience seems like… Experience could be just existence.

So as an example, let’s say if anyone is trying to build up payments FinTech startup, and is wanting to build a team, the default reaction would be that, let me go and find people from payments industry. Now the problem statement with that is many people will be in existence, and their impact would be an attribution error. So hence, I don’t think when we are surrounding ourselves with great people, it makes sense for us to stereotype and say, oh, I need to have people from this industry and somebody who’s worked 20 years or 10 years.

So I think that’s a second very important point that, don’t get stereotypical about people while you’re surrounding yourself with great people. So yeah, that’s the second big one in the last 20 years.

The third is essentially, look, you want to execute and fail faster. You want to reduce the cost of failure. Failing is good. Reduce your cost of failure. You will fail. Even large companies like Google face a lot of mini failures. They don’t talk about it, but every company, every individual will find lots of many, many small failures, right? And the trick here is that just do it faster and reduce the cost, and get your learnings out. Many times when I speak to people when they have failed and then succeeded, a lot of them have not derived any insights out of those many failures. I think that’s important.

Sanjay Swamy 36:35

I think they’re three amazing learnings, Ashish. So just before we close, I thought, you’ve seen, as you said, in the first phase of the Indian startup ecosystem, you’re now, I would say, probably midway through the second phase of this. I mean, yesterday, we just saw the announcement of the hundredth unicorn. Of course there are several that… I personally know a couple that have not announced, but they had become unicorns a while back. So it’s probably 120, let’s say, unicorns here in the country and growing very nicely. And that’s of course not necessarily a destination, but just a proxy for how this ecosystem is thriving.

As youngsters think about their career choices and opportunities, and you said fail fast early. You know, we personally are super excited about the entrepreneurship opportunity in India. And I thought it’d be nice to get your thoughts on, just at a macro level, what you see the opportunity space like, and any ending thoughts for entrepreneurs as they’re contemplating, should we become an entrepreneur or not?

Ashish Kashyap 37:40

Yeah. Look, I mean, I think we all waited for this time, and you just said that my 20 years, I wish I was born 10 years later. So, people like us had to wait a lot of time for the real inflection. I think the inflection points started coming somewhere in 2014, 2013, many years after I had journeyed in the consumer tech space. I think the time could have never been better because all the tech, all the key constituents are in place, right? The consumers, the market size, the addressable markets, the funding environment with really great backers like you guys. I think all the key constituents are in place and it could have never been a better time.

And of course the country has a huge headroom for growth, right? Other than any other, if you compare to any other country. And the other very interesting opportunity is for a lot of Indian entrepreneurs to build, make in India, made in India and to develop services for the global, right? So today’s date, if you look at the mobile apps’ qualities and the product qualities, they are of the same quality as any global FinTech or a global service provider. I mean, I think when we look at INDmoney and compare, we feel that we can make it even better than global companies, which are highly valuable.

So I think we do have the talent also now to develop good services. So clearly I think the opportunity and timing couldn’t have been better. Everything is in place. All the decks are in place in the market right now, in the country right now. So I think the outlook is amazing.

I think there would be…. So if you see, my outlook is, if you see the way we look at the Indian listed space, there’s Nifty 50 companies. The Nifty 50, what it looks today, what it would look five to 10 years from now is going to look very different. And it’ll be these tech companies which will occupy, a lot of these tech companies which will occupy Nifty 50.

The third thing I want to share is that if you see Google of India is not Baidu, okay. It is Google and Facebook of India, or is Instagram of India, WhatsApp of India is WhatsApp, right? I think that part is very clear, right? And let’s not try to fight that part. But there are so many services, in financial services, in health, in agri and hundreds of such categories and sectors, which are still to be built out.

As I said, in the FinTech space, I think it’s just payments, and then the rest is a big blue sky out there. Health tech is just kind of emerging and evolving, right? I mean, I think my ex-teammate, Vikalp, is building a beautiful startup called Eka Care, for example. So I think it’s just the whole ecosystem and the sectors are wide open. It’ll obviously… We will see, not everybody’s going to succeed. There will be failure rates, but the people who fail, they get up again and try. You try five times, you finally succeed at different points of time.

Sanjay Swamy 41:10

That’s awesome. Yeah. Actually, I’ve stopped using the word failed entrepreneur, because you learn so much when you are unsuccessful. So I’ve started using the word unsuccessful, because I think the learnings are just amazing. As long as you, as you say, take the right lessons out of it and jump back, stand up one more time and continue attempting, right? And sooner or later a bigger success will happen.

Great. I think Ashish, lovely to talk to you, always enjoyed our conversations. And certainly I think the learnings that you’ve had over the years, the excitement and the passion you have for INDmoney as well as for the ecosystem. I really appreciate your thoughts today. Thank you so much. Wishing you all the best at INDmoney and look forward to meeting in person and in real life.

Ashish Kashyap 42:05

Take care. Bye-bye. Thanks Sanjay for having me over.

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