Savart - MyStartupLand

Sankarsh Chanda is a young but hungry and motivated startup founder from India. He is a certified research analyst and started getting into equity investments at a very early stage, 14. At the time, he developed a strong interest in equity markets. This led him to develop investment strategies from UK, US, Denmark, and India.

Sankarsh’s interest for investment, however, did not stop there. He also wrote a book, Financial Nirvana. This is an investment guide for beginners, combining old-school values and modern-day planning.

His passion for the topic took him in 2017 to found Savart, a wealth management app for everyone. Currently, it manages about 80 Million INR (around $1M) in AUM.

In this exclusive interview with MyStartupLand, we walk through his experience as a startup founder, as well as understanding some key learnings for himself as well as other fellow entrepreneurs around the globe.

1.    Sankarsh, thanks for having this interview. For all startup founders reading your story and practicing their elevator pitch, can you summarise in less than 30 seconds what Savart is? 

Savart is an online-offline wealth manager that helps people make smart investment decisions whether they are investing $1 or a million dollars.

2.    How did you come up with the idea for Savart?

I was working on several freelancing websites building amateur investment strategies for people around the world. The opportunity to study different markets got me excited.

This interest slowly made me think more seriously about actually doing the same for the masses. A lot of friends and family were actually asking me about investment ideas or investable companies. I had no clue on whether to guide them or not, as any loss that would be incurred with my ideas would have made me feel responsible.

This initial thought was strengthened after a customer survey I conducted with over 1000 people throughout the country to understand people’s financial life. As a result, I found out that money was indeed a priority for many. So I felt that our idea to invest and get people wealthier would, in turn, help them focus on their passions and lives, at least to a small extent.

3.     What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?

What I just told you about my learnings and experience actually inspired me to become an entrepreneur. It was not something that I had a clear idea about initially. It took me quite some time to understand that turning into an entrepreneur would help me achieve those goals.

4.     Startup founders go through a lot of ups and downs, what keeps you motivated and focused on the target? How do you manage to keep that motivation up within your team? 

The journey has been exciting so far with a lot of ups and downs. On most days, the entire team is very motivated and energetic, but there are days when things don’t happen according to the plan. However, we always have a single thing in mind: customer first. During our meetings, we have an empty chair and assume our customer is there, watching us work. This makes sure that we don’t get distracted or demotivated.

Happy customers and their profits actually keep us motivated.

Other small milestones like feature releases, team members’ induction, and positive customers’ feedback are celebrated to keep the good spirit.

My personal motivation is about getting closer to reach out to the remotest people out there and introducing, explaining, convincing, getting them invested and help them achieve their goals.

5.     Mentors and advisors are important figures, especially for young startup founders. However, finding the right help can be challenging. Can you walk us through how you managed to find the right support? If you could summarize in 3 keywords the key qualities you looked in an advisor or mentor, what would these be? 

I first met my mentor, Mr. Ajay Batra, when I was looking to enroll in an entrepreneur-friendly university. A few meetings later, we understood each other fairly well and my passion was something he connected with, from day one. I can comfortably say that my current work would not have been possible without his guidance and support. I never realized the importance of having a mentor until I had one.

Initially, I had no idea I even needed a mentor, but few things I would look for in a mentor would be:

  • Adding direction and motive to the overall idea
  • Continuous constructive criticism
  • Helping build the right culture for the organization

6.     In light of what you just told us, what’s the best advice so far?

Keep customers’ needs and preferences in mind all the time and give them priority over everything else.

7.     Stress is a natural companion in the journey to success. Can you suggest to other startup founders, who might be going through some rough waters, what’s the best way, in your opinion, to deal with it? 
I often stress out trying to do all things myself. It is important not to micro-manage and trust the team. Trying to do everything by myself can be challenging and also foolish. Hence, building the right team is crucial. The team must be aligned with the vision and mission level with the organization thoroughly for this to happen in the first place.

I think it’s important to note down all activities the founder is involved, as there are thousands of moving parts in a startup. Completing these tasks one by one gives a lot of confidence and helps reduce stress for me.

8.     How did the startup life change you? (compared to the time before your startup journey)
My book reading hours have drastically reduced. I now listen to people more than I speak. I travel much more frequently and get to visit quite a few places.
9.     When running a startup, there are several components that become priorities: product, team, culture, funding, and so on… what’s your top priority when running Savart and why?
Product and culture are my top priorities closely followed by the team. I strongly believe that my mission and a sense of building a positive culture is why I am in the business. While the product is what will keep me in the business. Keeping the team happy and positive is also a top priority.
Savart Founder - MyStartupLand
10.  Did you raise venture capital? If yes, what would you suggest to other startup founders that are getting into VC funding? If not, are you going to look for funding and how would you go about it?
I have not raised VC fundings so far. However, we are looking to raise some soon. I would suggest to founders to look for like-minded investors. These should be creating long-term wealth and be aligned with your vision.
The lesser the investor interfere in areas of founder’s strengths and the more they add value to the founder’s blind-spots, the better the investor is.
11.  How much influence did customers interviews have while building Savart? 
I started as a product guy and all I cared was to build a perfect, unique product that performed well for customers. Eventually, I realized that I had to focus on building a solution that was customer-centric. Adding value to people’s lives became the priority and not just the end result.
This commitment towards customer choices helped us get recognized and awarded by TiE (The Indus Entrepreneur) in New Delhi as one of the leading startups employing design thinking and being customer-centric in India.
12.  How has Savart been perceived by the market so far? How does your current growth look like? 
We are in the initial days of our business. The growth has been fairly good and slowly catching up to our expectations. Most of our customers are extremely satisfied with the special treatment and transparency in our services. We are experiencing referrals from our existing clients, which we believe is a great sign of growth.
13.  What advice would you give to first-time startup founders?
There are few things I would say to first-time startup founders:
  1. Stick to the motivation.
  2. Keep the passion alive and burning.
  3. Money < Mission
  4. Long-term benefits outweigh short-term gratifications – not just with investments but in most things, we do at a startup.
  5. Respect team and customers
14. Savart is based in India, can you share your experience as a startup founder in the country? 
It is exciting to be a part of India’s startup ecosystem. I personally believe the startup space in the country is in its nascent stage but the pace of the growth in terms of awareness and changes in making things easy for businesses is great.
I cannot predict the outcome of this change, but things are definitely looking positive and startups are getting the support they deserve.
15. India startup ecosystem is incredibly active with some massive companies around, as well as innovative startups across the country. How do you see the competitive landscape and what are some key activities that you take as a leader to ensure your market position is protected? 
The Indian startup ecosystem is growing and new companies are coming up by the dozens each month.

The equity investment space is particularly competitive. Given the size of the market, however, and the potential, we would hardly call them competition. Instead, the competition helps spread the costs of educating our customer segments and thus opening avenues for the industry as a whole.

Moreover, Savart’s stock research algorithm, online & offline interface along with its rural networks help it reach out to those customer segments which are off the radar of most of the other players.

 

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1 COMMENT

  1. It’s amazing to see young people growing up with this passion and actually going for it. Keep these stories coming!

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