Ankur Choudhary, Co-founder & CIO - Goalwise
Ankur Choudhary, Co-founder & CIO – Goalwise

Goalwise is a unique goal-based investment platform that leverages data-driven algorithms to offer suitable mutual fund investment plans to its customers. As a fully managed goal-based investing platform, Goalwise facilitates mutual fund selection, risk profile, yearly review and rebalancing of funds. The platform enables its customers to avoid tedious research and invest in plans that are meticulously tailored to their needs. Goalwise was established with the simple vision of making fully managed world-class goal based investing and personal financial planning easily accessible to everyone, and not just to the wealthier segments of the population. Launched in Feb 2016 by Swapnil Bhaskar, Ankur Choudhary and Savitri Bobde, the Bangalore based investment platform was started because of the fact that there is rampant mis-selling of investment plants by banks and customers have to carry out endless research themselves before investing. Further, even after carrying out extensive research, customers still miss out on creating or achieving financial goals through their investments because of lack of proper execution.

Ankur Choudhary is the Co-founder and CIO of Goalwise. In his role, he develops investment strategies that include Mutual Fund selection and asset allocation strategies. He is also responsible for overseeing the product and content functions. An IIT Kanpur alumnus, Ankur started his career in finance as an Investment Strategist at Oxus Investments, New Delhi. He later joined WorldQuant, a global hedge fund, as a Quantitative Researcher. After gathering 6 years of experience in the field of investment management, Ankur co-founded Goalwise along with Savitri Bobde and Swapnil Bhaskar in 2015.

Swapnil Bhaskar is the Co-Founder & CEO of Goalwise. At Goalwise, he spearheads the Financial Advisory department as well as the company’s overall growth. An IIT Kanpur graduate in Chemical Engineering, he is SEBI RIA (Registered Investment Advisor) and an NISM certified Retirement Advisor. After completing his education, Swapnil began working as a Field Engineer at Schlumberger. He then joined the State Bank of India as a Manager. In addition, Swapnil also holds the distinction of being a Certified Associate of Indian Institute of Bankers (CAIIB).

Savitri Bobde is the Co-founder and COO of Goalwise. She oversees the execution of all initiatives undertaken by the company and also guides the operational processes of all departments – especially customer service and investment operations. Having graduated from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature, she went on to pursue a Master’s degree in Development Studies from the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex. Prior to co-founding Goalwise, Savitri worked for 6 years with an NGO Pratham, where she was responsible for spearheading the Assessment Unit at ASER Center. During her stint with Pratham, she designed and implemented large-scale assessments across 600 Indian districts.

Goalwise Founders (from left to right) Swapnil Bhaskar, Savitri Bobde & Ankur Choudhary
Goalwise Founders (from left to right) Swapnil Bhaskar, Savitri Bobde & Ankur Choudhary

We are publishing an interview with Ankur Choudhary:

Q.: 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?
Ans:
While Indians are amongst the world’s most hardworking people, the majority of them are unable to manage their finances efficiently. With little to no idea about different investment options and their purpose, millions of Indians fail to reach their financial goals.

The scope of the problem is reflected in the fact that only 3% of Indians invest in Mutual Funds or stock markets whereas in the US this number is close to 40-50%. The main challenge Indians face when it comes to investments is lack of expertise and the rampant mis-selling prevalent in the industry.

Swapnil experienced it first-hand when he was mis-sold a ULIP investment in 2008 by his bank’s relationship manager. However, he didn’t realize the severity of the problem until he himself started working with a leading public bank in India. At that time I was working with data driven investment strategies which could help manage people’s investments at scale. Swapnil and I then brainstormed at length and came up with the idea of Goalwise.

With Goalwise we plan to solve both the challenges by providing a transparent, data driven fully managed investment service which will enable everyone to invest in an intelligent way without them having to be an expert.

Q.: Tell us about the Product / Solution. Explain how you went about the Product-Market Fit Process.
Ans:
Goalwise is a goal-based investment platform that leverages data-driven algorithms to offer suitable mutual fund investment plans to its customers. Following a set-and-forget approach, Goalwise helps people achieve their financial goals, while overseeing all aspects of investing including glide path, portfolio rebalancing, target tracking and more.

In addition to providing end-to-end investment solution, Goalwise also offers one-on-one personal finance planning led by its team of in-house financial experts over the phone.

Well, we researched for months before finally choosing a goal-based investment approach as this is what resonated the most with our target audience. Back then, we used to even promote the products from our competitors to better understand the complaints people made about them. We continue to interact with our customers on a daily basis to get their feedback and modify our products accordingly.

Q.: What is your USP?
Ans:
Goalwise offers its customers a fully managed goal-based investing solution that covers all aspects of investing including Mutual Fund selection, glide path, portfolio rebalancing, target tracking and more. Unlike our competitors that are mostly DIY platforms urging investors to do their own research after bombarding them with conflicting options, Goalwise comes as a respite where zero research is required by the investors.

goalwise logo

Some of our USPs are as follows:

  • One click Portfolio Rebalancing
  • Tax Gain Harvesting
  • On-track/Off-track goal tracking
  • One-on-one financial planning by in-house financial planners

Q.: What were your assumptions when you entered the market, learning that you have? Who in your mind is your ideal customer? Do you have at least one of them signed up?
Ans:
The biggest assumption we made in the beginning was that if we built an easy to use product with in-built recommendations, everyone will be able to use it on their own to manage their investments effectively without the need for any human interaction. We were wrong. Because of low financial awareness and rampant mis-selling, we learnt that there is a genuine need for a hybrid model where humans and technology both come together to create the optimal user experience for investors. So after building a world-class product, we are now focused on building a world-class team of human advisors which can leverage technology to deliver transparent and effective advice at scale.

We primarily cater to people between the ages of 30-60 with an annual income of 8 lakhs and above. An ideal customer for us would be someone looking for financial planning as well as investment management and not just a transaction platform. As of now, we have registered 25,000 registered Goalwise users across 400+ cities in India.

Q.: What has been your biggest failure as an entrepreneur and what did you learn from it??
Ans:
I can recall an incident, but I won’t call it a failure. Rather, it was a learning opportunity for us. Initially, our tie-ups with mutual fund companies took about 2-3 months from start to finish. While we wanted to accelerate this entire process, we had no option but to wait. On top of that, we couldn’t find a white label mutual fund platform that matched our requirements. This hurdle however, came as a blessing in disguise, for it allowed us to build our own mutual fund investing platform from scratch which is now one of the highest rated platforms in the entire industry.

Q.: How are you pricing the Product? Explain your thought process.
Ans:
Goalwise currently works on a commission based revenue model. While customers don’t pay us directly, as a mutual fund distributor we get a recurring % commission fee from the mutual fund companies that our users invest in. This saves us from the hassle of collecting payments from users ourselves.

Q.: How did you get your first customer?
Ans:
We got our first customer by word of mouth. We floated the concept of Goalwise amongst friends and family and they showed keen interest. They tried and loved the platform and shared great feedback with their acquaintances. That’s how we have been growing primarily.

Q.: Is there any interesting success story? If yes, please write about it?
Ans:
During our pre-launch days in 2015, we were trying to become online channel partners with Mutual Fund companies so that we could provide Mutual Funds on our website in a completely online way. Swapnil and I had spent an entire day visiting offices of various Mutual Fund companies like Birla, HDFC etc but everyone turned us down as we were new and did not have any user base or AUM. But we kept at it and finally in our last meeting of the day at UTI Mutual Fund, a manager at UTI Mutual Fund heard us out and for some reason gave us the go-ahead!

After that, over the next few days we went back to all the Mutual Fund companies who had turned us down and used the agreement with UTI to create some FOMO and got many of them to partner with us.

Q.: What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product leading to something bigger? If so, how?
Ans:
Our aim is to make financial planning accessible to everyone and establish Goalwise as India’s most trustworthy personal finance company. Our product is one part of it. We have already started providing comprehensive financial planning services beyond just Mutual Fund investments and in the future we will add more financial products like insurance etc.

Q.: Please tell us about the investors (if any)
Ans:
Goalwise had secured an angel funding of USD 1 million from undisclosed HNIs in 2016.

Q.: Since inception, give us a sense of the value of business done by your venture?
Ans:
We are currently managing investments worth INR 140 crores from more than 5000 investors.

Q.: What is the insight that you have about this market, which no one else has? Uniqueness about your startup.
Ans:
While most startups are focused on facilitating transactions, we are focused on planning and advice. Our product also reflects that and we provide a fully managed goal based investment service. Our users don’t need to do extensive research on their own in order to make the right investments as we create customised plans for them based on their goals and risk profile.

Q.: List all the names of the core Team Members, along with their Designated Roles.
Ans:
Apart from the co-founders, Ayush Kumar Singh, who is the CTO at Goalwise is a prominent core team member who has been with Goalwise right from the launch. He has extensive experience as a software developer and was previously with Oracle. He has a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science & Engineering from Anna University, Chennai.

This Goal-based Investment Platform Leverages Data-driven Algorithms to Simplify Personal Finance and Investing

Q.: Who do you perceive as Your Competition? How do you differentiate yourself with them?
Ans:
Some of our competitors in the industry are Scripbox, Fundsindia, Upwardly, Kuvera, Zerodha Coin and Groww. Most of these companies follow a DIY approach, which means investors have to do their own research in order to invest successfully. Whereas, Goalwise provides full-fledged goal-based investment plans that include glide path, portfolio balancing, target tracking and more.

Q.: What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months?
Ans:
We have witnessed robust growth in the past couple of years, with around 20,000 app downloads without any marketing. In the next 6 months, we have plans of adding term insurance to our platform. Additionally, we are looking to scale up our team of certified financial advisors to provide financial planning services to our user base.

Q.: What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs?
Ans:
The biggest advice I can give is to be honest to yourself and partner with people who are honest to themselves (and to you). Then establish that there is indeed a market need for what you are building. Once you have done that, launch and iterate. There is no perfect product and adding more features will not make you successful. Focus on your customers and not on the competition. Read a lot. Meditate. It is going to be one heck of a ride so brace yourself and march ahead.
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Thanks Ankur. Best wishes!

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