Home >Brand Post >CEO Rakesh Bhatia vouches for embedded savings via B2B2C firm Savvy

In conversation with Rakesh Bhatia, founder/CEO of Savvy, an enterprise that caters to the 'saving' needs of the millennials and in empowering businesses towards robust integration of their customer base through hassle free technology. We understand from Rakesh Bhatia, the disruptions that they are making with Embedded Savings and where they are heading to.

Q 1 - How has your journey been so far? How did you build your team?

In one word, the journey has been “exciting". It’s been a year since we formally incorporated our Indian subsidiary. Interestingly, our core team started work in India and almost soon after, Covid struck. At that point, we were anxious if things would work out smoothly; but thankfully, even though we worked from our respective homes – and even hired new team members remotely – our plans fell in place.

The team at Savvy is a great mix of industry veterans, experienced professionals and young disruptors. The journey commenced in 2017 in Singapore with a savings App called Balo, and in late 2019, we decided to launch Savvy in India. Most of the team have left their comfortable jobs and believe in the mission to build Savvy into a brand that is associated with ‘Savings’. And when we look back at the last one year, we are extremely pleased with what we have been able to accomplish.

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

Although Indians are known for ‘saving money’, it is not an accurate statement. People want things instantly. They want it now. And easy EMIs and Loans are enabling them to fall in 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 rising financial anxiety amongst young Indians about the mounting loan repayments and interest; and on the other hand, we see that businesses are unable to embed savings in their customer journeys easily. Be it a financial institution (like a Bank, Mutual Fund company, NBFC, etc.) or a non-financial company (like an Education App, an Electronics marketplace, a Travel portal, a Jewellery chain, etc.), these businesses are finding it tough to offer seamless savings options to their customers to buy their core products.

This is where Savvy comes in. We have ready, standardised integration tools to seamlessly help any business to embed savings in their customer journeys.

As Marc Andreessen has famously said, "every company in 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 about the market situation?

I think these are unprecedented times, where fear and opportunity co-exist. Due to economic uncertainties brought about by the pandemic, more and more people are thinking of saving money and safeguarding their future. Also, the categories of spends are also changing dramatically.

We will see a higher than before growth in savings instruments such as mutual funds, deposits and also in savings account balances to take care of emergencies. Just the mutual fund AUM is expected to grow 3-4 times in five years’ time, which is fantastic.

So, in such times, Savvy’s proposition is hugely appealing to both the retail customer as well as businesses, where it can be integrated easily to offer embedded savings. Given this, we feel the Indian market is ripe for a disruption in the way people save, and in the way businesses offer savings solutions to their customers. It is an underserved market, and we have a unique business model to fill 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 embed savings in their products, seamlessly. The integration is done easily with minimal effort in quick time – everything is SDK and API based.

Savvy will enable any brand – financial or non-financial – to embed savings in its ecosystem and as a 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-term and long-term. We have standardised savings journeys which can be embedded in very little time as per the use-case for the partner. And our revenue model is aligned to the success of our partner, which makes it better for them to partner with us.

Of course, retail investors can download Savvy and create their own savings journeys and get all the benefits offered by the Savvy App which is available in the IOS and Android platform.

To sum up, our proposition of offering a seamless savings experience to our users is what differentiates us.

Q 5 - What is your Vision and Mission driving the innovations?

Our vision is to enable any company to become a fintech company. We will do this by helping the company to embed savings in their customer journeys via an easy, quick integration.

The objective is two-fold. Every company (financial or non-financial) has a customer base that is not fully engaged, and the business finds it difficult to offer them embedded savings products due to various reasons such as resource constraints, lack of expertise in non-core areas, compliance and security concerns and most of these companies use an archaic technological system. Savvy can help them create an engaging savings journey for their customers quickly.

Let me give you a couple of examples. An Asset Management Company would have lakhs of customers who may be disengaged. Using Savvy, the AMC can offer a customised, goal-based savings journey, real time nudges and notifications, trigger-based investing, etc. A simple profiler we have developed can be used to help the customer make informed choices about where to invest rather than be overwhelmed by hundreds of funds.

Now, let’s look at a non-financial company, like a gold/jewellery retailer or an electronics appliances chain. They have lakhs of customers, but there is no ongoing engagement. Sure, there are BNPL schemes, but Savvy can integrate with these partners and offer them a simple savings journey. So, if their customer wants to buy a necklace for her daughter’s wedding or a television set or book a vacation, we can offer SNBL (Save Now, Buy Later) solutions. This will result in an extended engagement with the Brand through a regular savings journey.

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

The entire team at Savvy has a very interesting background, both in terms of academics as well as work experience. We have post-graduates from leading institutes such as IIM, Brown University, Jamnalal Bajaj, Pune University, etc. The professional experience of the team comprises ex-CEOs and COOS from multinational banks and leading private banks, the World Bank, Fintech firms, etc. Equally, we have a big pool of millennial disruptors who challenge and help in building a product which resonates with current times.

In all, a very balanced and experienced composition of the team, which is critical in a venture such as ours. And the best part is, 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 large business client to offer embedded savings to their customer base. 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 prominent FIs, and some exciting discussions with non-FIs. We want to have these partnerships signed up with atleast 10-12 partners by December’21.

On the retail side, we have 100,000 users already and the base is growing steadily.

We are also creating more unique use-cases that our partners and customers can deploy. For example, ‘Round-off to Save’, where whenever you spend, the difference to the nearest hundred rupees is rounded off and saved for you automatically. Another feature we are launching is a ‘Trigger-based Save’, where your money is saved automatically as and when you complete a routine daily task, like buying groceries, completing a run, watching a movie, etc. These are our attempts to integrate savings into everyday life, and make you a better saver without you realising it.

Q 9 - Which industries/customer segments does Savvy cater to?

We are primarily a B2B2C company. Our current target audience is any company – financial or non-financial – that has a loyal customer base. We will help them embed savings seamlessly in their customer journeys, help them increase engagement with their customer base so that they not only monetize their base but also create additional revenue by distributing financial products.

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

India has significant problems to solve and they can be solved with the help of technology since the distribution of the product is very easy. Avenues of funding for the Startup have increased from seed capital to various rounds, from angel investors to various Venture Capitals and Private Equity players. Regulators are progressive and supportive. Demographics are favourable and digital is being adapted in a big way. Staying focused on a niche area is something every start-up should keep in mind.

Q 11 - Have you raised any funding yet? If not, then are you looking for funding in the near future?

We have raised two rounds of USD 0.5 Mio each in 2020, and we are in the process of raising our Pre-Series A round at the moment. We will be raising our Series A sometime by December’21.

Savvy has certainly woven a discrete network of institutions who enable their customers with sustainable saving habits which is set to see an increased populace in the near future. Watch out for Savvy as they bring Embedded Savings and SNBL into our lives.

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

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