In an exclusive interview with BW Disrupt, the founders of AsknBid Suresh Bavisetti & Paarth Dhar talk about their business, products, impact of the pandemic and more.
Suresh A Computer Science techie from IIT Madras, Suresh is passionate about quantitative trading. He has 1.5 years of quantitative trading and alpha research experience working for Trexquant Investment LP, USA. Parth on the other hand is an electrical engineering graduate from IIT Roorkee. He started his career with Flipkart, where he worked across different teams and functions.
1.What is the business about?
AsknBid started with an aim of building tech products for the Investment industry. Products that would make investing accessible, easier & efficient for everyone – not only enterprises but also retail investors.
We have recently launched Dstreet Games – a gaming platform for the financial markets. Our aim is to provide new investors / non investors a platform to learn, test and improve their stock analysis skills without the risk of substantial financial loss (as opposed to going directly to the live markets)
2.What is the background of the founders? How did you guys start?
The genesis of the company was nothing short of serendipitous – Suresh, an ex – quant hedge fund analyst, had just dropped out of his Computer Science course at IIT Madras. With the initial plan for AsknBid, he came to Bangalore and started meeting people and investors. Paarth, an ex-entrepreneur, was working at a VC fund at that time and looking for potential investment opportunities in the Investment Tech space. As luck would have it – they got connected by Archana (who eventually became the first investor in the company) – 3 months of brainstorming later, AsknBid began operations in June 2018.
3.What are your products about?
Dstreet Games, launched in December, is a gaming platform for the stock markets. We intend to gamify stock market education for non-investors / new investors. Users get a taste of the markets without having to risk a lot of or any money as opposed to directly trying out their hands at stock trading in the markets.
The platform runs 2 major formats – Portfolios & Dshots. The former is a virtual portfolio creation format and the latter a Q&A format, where users make predictions about the stock markets and compete against other users. Users have the option of selecting different asset classes and even create their own private games!
Earlier, we had launched its first product – Lambda- in the quantitative investing space. Lambda is a running algo trading competition which has now become a community of the top quants in India. Quant Researchers submit algorithms in a month long competition at the end of which their submissions are scored, users are ranked and cash prizes are awarded. This allows students to showcase their talent and benchmark against fellow quants from all over the country. Because Algo-Trading is nascent in India, Lambda was started as an effort to create a pool of talented Quant Researchers and Algorithms that can be engaged by the industry players.
4.What has been one of the biggest learnings for you so far?
In a short span of 3-4 months, Lambda saw users sign up from 500+ different colleges in India. Soon after the launch, we were flooded by requests from students and users that didn’t know how to create trading algorithms for a competition based on stock portfolio creation. Hence, Dstreet Games was born.
Over the past few months we’ve been speaking to a lot of our users coming from diverse backgrounds. We learnt that beyond the typical stock market enthusiasts (B-school students, corporate employees) – there is a huge set of people (many of them in tier2/3 towns) who want to try out stock trading. These users want to participate but are apprehensive of going directly into the live markets. We want Dstreet Games to be the stepping stone in their journey of becoming retail investors and we believe we can unlock a huge set of such new users for the stock market with the help of this gaming platform.
5.How is this new product different from existing competitors?
The formats are engaging yet simple / easy to understand for a newbie unlike the age old stock portfolio simulation games that are not only cognitively complex but also provide little incentive to the players.
We believe that this simplicity can help expand the retail investor market in India with a huge set of players graduating from the platform to become live market investors after improving their investing skills.
6.What has the impact of the pandemic been on your company and your industry?
We think we are one of the few lucky ones who have been largely unaffected by the Covid crisis as the entire offering is online. The team is working completely remotely and are still being able to ensure product delivery and maintenance.
On the contrary the pandemic has given birth to strong tailwinds for Dstreet Games. A large population in India has increasingly shown interest in both sectors – stock investments (rise in brokerage accounts ) and gaming (increased activity on mobile games). Dstreet Games is positioned perfectly at the crossroads of these 2 macro consumer behavior trends.
7. What is the funding status of the company? What are your future expansion plans
The company has raised 2 rounds of financing since inception. The first led by Archana Priyadarshini, founder at Pointone Capital. The second led by Regentway Ventures – a family office headed by Ravikanth Reddy – as part of the Mumbai Angels Network.
With the technology built for the new product, the company now intends to allocate resources towards user acquisition and will be raising capital for the same.
Source: Business World