The declaration of an entrepreneur
Meet Adhil Shetty, one of the pioneers of Fintech in India. He is the co-founder and CEO of BankBazaar.com, India’s largest financial marketplace. Launched in 2008, it helps customers get easy access to quotes on loans and credit cards. Personal finance products such as insurance and mutual funds are also included in its gamut of services. This is made possible due to technology which helps match customers to their needs.
In a chat with Larry Bradley, Shetty tells us why he is an entrepreneur.
I wanted to be an entrepreneur
Being an entrepreneur is an idea I had since I graduated from Columbia University. BankBazaar was my first foray into entrepreneurship. I thought I would take the plunge after a decade of working in the US. But then the idea for BankBazaar was shared with me by my co-founders. I took a week to think it over and took the plunge. I believed it was an idea whose time had come. It would be welcomed in time by the banking community in India. The average consumer would be benefited as well. The entrepreneur in me realised there was an opportunity that needed to be tapped into.
Solving a problem
I am an entrepreneur because I had an idea and I knew it could solve a problem. Our journey started with my brother Arjun and Rati’s attempts to buy a house in 2007. Getting a home loan was a tiring and tedious process. They were searching for the best deal in the market. In the process they faced some of the common difficulties that a consumer faces.
A lot of pain points existed in the offline world. This would be the time and effort in terms of searching for the right deal and the best offers. The documentation and paperwork involved in the offline loan process also presented an opportunity for a technology-based solution. We started talking through the gaps that existed in the entire process. Thousands of people experienced these pain points every day. We figured out how they could be filled in by a more tech-based approach. It is with this mission to help customers access the right financial products that we started BankBazaar.
The entrepreneur in me has a vision. Definitely BankBazaar’s vision is to become the dominant marketplace across the world for instantly issuing financial products. It was very essential to be focused and stay true to the plan if we were to make this vision a reality.
Fintech is a rapidly evolving sector and there were so many interesting things happening across the world. We have the opportunity to leapfrog what were in hindsight slow technological developments in the West. We have a clear idea of what we want and we have pursued it single-mindedly. This has brought us success. Our collaborations and technology have ensured us positive unit economics and we are moving towards long-term profitability. Today we are the only Indian Fintech to have expanded globally to Singapore and Malaysia. Our first international foray into Singapore is just over a year old. It has already started yielding revenues.
Problem solving skills
Problem solving skills are important not just for an entrepreneur but for everyone. Everyone has a goal and responsibility to drive certain results and the path will not be always smooth. Without being a problem solver, one would be stuck and there would be no way forward. But there is a way in which an entrepreneur differs as a problem solver. Often we are working on problems that no one has ever solved before. Or we are looking at disruptive solutions for existing problems.
Learning from experience
One thing I have learnt as an entrepreneur is that there are no mistakes, only learnings. Mistakes happen when you are bogged down by the results and do not learn from them. So, look at every contrary result as a learning. When you have a clear vision, there are bound to be obstacles. The important thing to do is to focus on solving the problems at hand. Getting lost in why the problem occurred does not help.
From a Fintech perspective, the one realization that tops all others is how tightly bound the sector is. As a sector, Fintech is a highly regulated industry, and it has to be so. The regulators and banks have an important role. They are our partners and we work as a team. There are huge learning opportunities if one is willing to listen. Understanding the policies and regulations are the key to developing strategies.
Being a leader
Leadership skills are an important aspect of being an entrepreneur. One thing that has always been clear to me. You do not want people to work for you, but with you. At times it feels easier said than done. But there is always a regular and continuous effort to let the team understand that aspect. Every day brings a new learning to discover and implement ways to infuse team spirit.
My dream as an entrepreneur is to take the personal finance industry one big step ahead and make it completely paperless. Digital is the future. So we are actively working on developing end-to-end processes that are completely paperless. In time, I hope to see 100 per cent paperless products. These will be accessible on a mobile phone through the internet at the click of a button. This will go a long way in democratizing finance.
Why did you become an entrepreneur? Do share your story.