We are publishing an interview of Mr. Zaheer Adenwala, Co-Founder and CTO, Ketto – Mumbai based crowd-funding platform.
About the founders of Ketto
Varun Sheth is the Founder and CEO of Asia’s largest crowd funding website “Ketto”. He has a background in finance and a foregrounding in genius.
He was born and brought up in Mumbai; did his schooling in Jamnabai Narsee School and college in Narsee Monjee. Having always been interested in the financial sector, he went on to do a couple of financial programs that included chartered financial analyst (CFA) and financial risk management (FRM).
Recently, he has been ranked as top entrepreneur in 2017 edition of Forbes Magazine, 30 under 30.
Kunal Kapoor was born in Mumbai to a Punjabi family whose origins are in Amritsar. He is a film and theater actor by profession achieving many successes till date including Rang De Basanti, Aja Nachle etc. He’s also super clever and has a heart of pure, sunshiny gold which landed him into social work. Kapoor has endorsed popular brands like Thums Up, Indian Terrain, Ray-Ban, Mahindra Logan and Save the Children charity along with Gwyneth Paltrow.
In 2009, Kapoor started writing weekly columns for HT City, the lifestyle supplement of the Hindustan Times.These columns ended in November 2009 but still appear online on the social network Desimartini.
He is also a trained pilot, and rally car driver.In 2014, he started training for the Formula Three. Mostly, known to be a tech geek, he co-founded Asia’s largest crowd funding platform called Ketto, which raises money for social and individual causes. Till date, the platform has raised close to 400 million rupees. He has been a constant support to the Martyr Army Campaign called- “Support Soldier”
Zaheer Adenwala is the high-tech Co-Founder and CTO. Being a mechanical engineer from Drexel University, Philadelphia, he moved back to Mumbai in 2008 and started my career as a Product Manager @ Affinity, a digital ad network. There he worked on multiple consumer facing properties as well us internal products. In 2011, moved to Media.net which is one of India’s largest digital ad networks where I was heading a Product team. Most notable product built here was the Mobile ad suite that contributed 23% of the revenue within 1 year of launch. In addition to that, have worked on deploying an Affiliate Management system, CRM, and a host of internal products.
Zaheer have known Varun since school and about Ketto since he started in 2012. The master of cool energy joined Ketto, joined the founding team in 2013 and lead technology, building the Ketto 2.0 platform, often working after hours and hours with no breaks.
Please give us a brief background of what founders were doing before starting the venture.
Varun Sheth – After completing studies, Varun Sheth joined SPCL as a part of the Business Development team. After serving for 5 and a half year, he wanted to her further explore his skills and talents. Having studied financial risk management, he worked as an interest rate swap dealer with ICAP. It’s the world’s largest broking house for derivatives and fixed income products. He would advise his clients about which way the interest rate would move and I had even run deals worth Rs. 1000 crore.
Kunal Kaoor – Kapoor trained for an acting career under Barry John, and became a part of Motley, a theatre group run by Naseerudin Shah. He began his career as an assistant director of Aks, which starred Manoj Bajpayee and in which Amitabh Bachchan played a major character role, but eventually moved on to be a movie actor.
Zaheer Adenwala – After completeing Mechanical Engineer I started working as Product Manager @ Affinity, a digital ad network. In 2011, I moved to Media.net which is one of India’s largest digital ad network heading a Product team. In addition to that, I worked on deploying an Affiliate Management system, CRM, and a host of internal products.
List all the names of the core team members, along with their skill-sets, specific domain expertise & designated roles.
Our Core team members are:
- Dhruv Shah – Sr Business Development.
Skill-sets: Good communication skills,Diligent.
Domain expertise: Business Development.
Designated roles: Training, managing team, conducting interviews, generating revenue, strategizing new business ideas.
- Snehi Parmar – Finance Head.
Skills – Analytics & projections, interpersonal skills, forecasting & tax planning.
Domain expertise – Accounting & financial planning, Compliance & internal controls, Budgeting & forecasting.
Designated roles – Head of Finance & Compliance.
- Kena Shah – HR Manager.
Skills – Recruitment, talent Acquisition, Induction and On-boarding, Training and Development, Performance Management, Employee Engagement.
Domain expertise – Human Resource.
Designated roles – Recruitment, interviews, employee engagements.
- Shraddha Phulgirkar – Marketing Head.
Skills – Content writing, social media management, online reputation management, running brand campaigns, good communication skills.
Domain expertise – Digital.
Designated roles – Digital campaigns, contents, creative.
- Gitanjali Bora – Public Relation.
Skills – good communication, branding, writing, pitching, client servicing.
Domain expertise – Public Relation, Media Pitching, Media buying and selling.
Designated roles- Company branding, spokesperson branding, media pitching, events engagements, press release, CSR.
- Mahendra Nakar – Technology.
Skills – A multi-skilled solutions architect with ability to juggle multiple projects and meet deadlines whilst at the same time comprehending complex and interdependent business processes.
Domain expertise – Provide technical and architectural leadership for one or more software engineering teams. Drive innovation and engineering standards/best practices across Engineering and research of new technology trends, come up with suggestions and subsequent deployment.
Designated roles – Consistently demonstrate the analytical and problem solving skills to develop complex applications and robust solutions using OOA&D approaches and industry best practices. A proactive issue and problem solver, expert in delivering comprehensive solutions in time critical environment.
- Shubham Gupta – Product Management.
Skills – Product Management, Consumer behavior expert, DWBI, Big Data, Agile Project Management, Data Analytics, Reporting – Tableau, Power BI.
Domain expertise-E-commerce, Fashion, Retail, Crowdfunding, Pharma, Hospitality.
Designated roles- Product Head.
- Meenakshi Parashar – UI Design.
Skills – Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, UX Pin, Adobe Dreamweaver, After Effects, Corel Draw.
Domain expertise – Product, Digital Agency.
Designated roles – Designing Creatives, Web Interfaces, Mockups, Site Graphics. Designing graphics for Social Media Promotions.
All of them had contributed their best since the day they had join Ketto. They have helped Ketto is evolving from a small idea into a real big product serving the crowds.
What is the problem you are trying to solve? Can you share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem?
We are trying really hard to educate the masses about crowdfunding, we try to partner with people who can give the idea of crowdfunding a much larger audience. And when it comes to on-going campaigns, we try to provide our campaigners with all the help they need so it increases the chances of them recommending it to others who are in need of funds.
Apart from that, we make sure we educate people with the kind of content we put out on our website and our social media platforms because that’s where a major chunk of my target audience is.
What challenges did you face when you were starting out?
The concept of crowdfunding is still pretty new to India. My biggest hurdle has always been lack of awareness about the possibilities and advantages of crowdfunding.
How did you get the initial capital?
We have raised funds from VC Investors across 2 rounds of investment.
Please tell us about the Product / Solution.
Ketto is a Mumbai based crowd-funding platform focusing on Social Domain along with Creative domain and Personal. Though our sole objective in the beginning was to work closely in Social, Development space and assist NGO’s to raise funds in a far more transparent, engaging and cost effective manner.
We realized providing value is the name of the game, and it is critical for the market you are trying to serve that they understand your value proposition instantly. The quicker your customer can understand the value, the more you know your product has achieved product-market fit. We kicked off in 2012, in September. We started off to make the process of online crowdfunding fun and most importantly popular. We’ve been operational for over 4 years now.
What were your assumptions when you entered the market, learning that you have?
I knew from the beginning that the crowdfunding market won’t be easy and will be extremely challenging. Since, everything is becoming digital, we have to be super alert and be on top of every new trends and features.
What is the insight that you have about this market, which no one else has? Uniqueness about your Startup.
To be on top of this market, we will have to be super active and up to date with all new kinds of technologies and ideas. In comparison with other crowdfunding platform, Ketto provides better client servicing, marketing and media push. Rest assured.
What is the strength of the startup and the scale of operations? Who do You Perceive as Your Competition?
Both the strength and operation is upto the benchmark, but as always, we have a miles to move ahead. Actually, no one. We at Ketto compete with our past self. Our motive is to do better every day. We believe in learning from the past.
What is the revenue model? Explain your thought process.
The revenue model is simple but Premium. While it’s free to create and share your online fundraising fundraiser, Ketto deducts a fee of 6% + PG Charges (3%) + Service Tax from each donation that the campaigner receives.
Who are the consumers that you are targeting? How is this going to affect them?
Majority of our campaigns are raised by people belonging to the age group of 21-40 years of age. But ideally, every person on the internet and everyone who needs funds is our target audience. The probability of youngsters starting a campaign is higher because they are hooked onto social media and are active on such platforms and Ketto is all about reaching out to your own network of loved ones.
How did you get your first customer?
Well our first customers were our acquaintance and people close to us.
What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product leading to something bigger? If so, how?
The big picture is that we want to make fundraising for people really easy like a piece of cake. Yes definitely Ketto is going to be real bigger like a Wal-Mart of Crowdfunding for which we are coming up with new creative ideas.
Since inception, give us a sense of the value of business done by your venture?
Since inception Ketto have used technology to optimise efficiency, reduce redundancy and increase impact in the social sector in India. We are currently, working with grass-root level non-profits on technology enablement (including capacity building) to achieve our goals. Currently, Ketto raised over Rs. 4 cr per month for various causes with approx 48 crore turnover . Over 5 Lakh people from all over the world have donated over Rs 150 crore and we are working with 10,000 + NGOs.
What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months?
To be a Wal-Mart of crowdfunding.
What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs?
Be a good listener and quick learner, that’s how you will bring changes.
Thanks Mr. Zaheer. Best of luck!