CEO Rakesh Bhatia vouches for integrated savings through B2B2C Savvy


Q 1 – How has your career gone so far? How did you build your team?

In short, the trip was “exciting”. It has been a year since we officially incorporated our Indian subsidiary. Interestingly, our core team started working in India and almost soon after, Covid hit. At this point, we were worried if things would run smoothly; but luckily, even though we worked out of our respective homes – and even hired new remote team members – our plans fell into place.

The Savvy team is a great mix of industry veterans, seasoned professionals and young disruptors. The journey started in 2017 in Singapore with a savings app called Balo, and at the end of 2019 we decided to launch Savvy in India. Most of the team have quit their comfortable jobs and believe in the mission of making Savvy a brand associated with “Savings”. And when we look back over the past year, we’re extremely happy with what we’ve been able to accomplish.

Q 2 – What inspired you to do what you are doing now?

Although Indians are known to “save money,” this is not an accurate statement. People want things instantly. They want it now. And NDEs and easy loans allow them to fall into the vicious cycle of BNPL – Buy Now, Pay Later. At Savvy, we have brought an alternative philosophy, which is SNBL – Save Now, Buy Later.

So, on the one hand, we see growing financial anxiety among young Indians in the face of increasing loan repayments and interest; and on the other hand, we find that companies are unable to easily integrate savings into their customer journeys. Whether it is a financial institution (such as a bank, mutual fund company, NBFC, etc.) or a non-financial corporation (such as an educational app, electronic marketplace, shopping portal, travel, jewelry chain, etc.), these companies are finding it difficult to offer transparent savings options to their customers to purchase their commodities.

This is where Savvy comes in. We have out-of-the-box, standardized integration tools to seamlessly help any business integrate savings into their customer journeys.

As Marc Andreessen said, “Every business of the future will be a FinTech company”. We are here to bring the future to the Indian market.

Q 3 – What is your current perception of the market situation?

I think we are living in an unprecedented time, where fear and opportunity coexist. Due to the economic uncertainties caused by the pandemic, more and more people are thinking about saving money and safeguarding their future. In addition, the expense categories are also changing dramatically.

We will see higher growth than before in savings instruments such as mutual funds, deposits and also savings account balances to deal with emergencies. Only mutual fund assets under management are expected to grow 3-4 times in five years, which is fantastic.

So, in such times, Savvy’s proposition is extremely appealing to both the retail customer and the business, where it can be easily integrated to deliver integrated savings. Given this, we believe the Indian market is ripe for a disruption in the way people save and in the way businesses offer savings solutions to their clients. It’s an underserved market, and we have a unique business model to bridge the gap.

Q 4 – Why is the purpose of your brand and why is it useful for any institution?

For a business, Savvy helps it integrate savings into its products in a transparent manner. Integration is done easily with minimal effort in record time – everything is SDK and API based.

Savvy will allow any brand – financial or non-financial – to integrate savings into its ecosystem and as part of its customer experience. The ultimate beneficiary, of course, is the end user or retail customer who will be empowered to save for their goals, both short and long term. We have standardized savings paths that can be integrated in a very short time depending on the partner’s use case. And our revenue model is aligned with our partner’s success, which makes it better for them to partner with us.

Of course, individual investors can download Savvy and create their own savings path and benefit from all the advantages offered by the Savvy application, available on IOS and Android platforms.

In summary, our proposition to offer a seamless savings experience to our users is what sets us apart.

Q 5 – What is your vision and your mission at the origin of the innovations?

Our vision is to enable any business to become a fintech business. To do this, we help the company integrate savings into its customer journeys through simple and fast integration.

The objective is twofold. Every company (financial or not) has a clientele that is not fully engaged, and the company finds it difficult to offer them integrated savings products for various reasons such as resource constraints, lack of expertise in non-core areas, compliance and security issues and most of these companies use an archaic technology system. Savvy can help them quickly create an engaging savings path for their clients.

Let me give you some examples. An asset management company would have hundreds of thousands of clients who could be disengaged. Using Savvy, the AMC can offer a personalized goal-based savings journey, real-time advice and notifications, trigger-based investments, and more. A simple profiler we have developed can be used to help the client make informed choices about where to invest rather than being overwhelmed by hundreds of funds.

Now let’s look at a non-financial business, such as a gold / jewelry retailer or an electronics chain. They have thousands of customers, but there is no ongoing commitment. Of course, there are BNPL programs, but Savvy can integrate with these partners and offer them a simple savings path. So if their client wants to buy a necklace for their daughter’s wedding or a TV or book a vacation, we can offer SNBL (Save Now, Buy Later) solutions. This will translate into a prolonged engagement with the brand through a regular savings journey.

Q 6 – What is the expertise and background of your team?

The entire Savvy team has had a very interesting career, both academically and in terms of professional experience. We have graduates from leading institutes like IIM, Brown University, Jamnalal Bajaj, University of Pune, etc. The team’s professional experience includes former CEOs and COOS of multinational banks and large private banks, the World Bank, Fintech companies, etc. Likewise, we have a slew of millennial disruptors who challenge and help create a product that resonates with the present times.

In short, a very balanced and experienced composition of the team, which is essential in a company like ours. And the best part is that a lot of us have worked together in the past which always helps.

Q 8 – What are your future plans for the company?

We are in the process of signing up our first major corporate client to deliver built-in savings to their clientele. It is one of the largest financial companies in India and we are very excited about it. We also have very interesting partnerships at various stages of discussions with leading FIs, and exciting discussions with non-FIs. We want these partnerships to be signed with at least 10 to 12 partners by December 21.

On the retail side, we already have 100,000 users and the base continues to grow.

We also create more unique use cases that our partners and customers can deploy. For example, “Round up to save,” where every time you spend, the difference to the nearest hundred rupees is rounded up and saved for you automatically. Another feature we’re launching is a ‘trigger-based economy’, where your money is automatically saved as you complete a routine daily task, like shopping for groceries, finishing an errand, watching a movie, etc. These are our attempts to integrate savings into everyday life and make you a better saver without you realizing it.

Q 9 – What sectors / customer segments does Savvy target?

We are first and foremost a B2B2C company. Our current target audience is any business – financial or non-financial – that has a loyal following. We will help them integrate savings seamlessly into their customer journeys, help them increase engagement with their customers so that they not only monetize their base, but also create additional income by distributing financial products.

Q 10 – What would be your advice for young entrepreneurs / new start-ups in this field?

India has some big problems to solve and they can be solved with the help of technology as the distribution of the product is very easy. Funding avenues for the startup have shifted from seed capital to various rounds, from angel investors to various players in venture capital and private equity. The regulators are progressive and united. Demographics are favorable and digital technology is adapting in depth. Staying focused on a niche area is something every startup should keep in mind.

Q 11 – Have you already raised funds? If not, are you looking for financing in the near future?

We raised two rounds of $ 0.5 million each in 2020, and we’re in the process of increasing our pre-Series A round right now. We will be increasing our Series A by December 21.

Savvy has certainly woven a discreet network of institutions which enable their clients to have sustainable savings habits which are expected to see an increase in population in the near future. Beware of Savvy as they bring Embedded Savings and SNBL into our lives.

Disclaimer: This is a company press release. No HT reporter was involved in the creation of this content.

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About Wanda Reilly

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