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.
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.
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.
- Stick to the motivation.
- Keep the passion alive and burning.
- Money < Mission
- Long-term benefits outweigh short-term gratifications – not just with investments but in most things, we do at a startup.
- Respect team and customers
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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