A tedious and time-consuming process for a Home Loan application was the spark behind the idea for BankBazaar.com. Find out more about Rati’s amazing entrepreneurial journey with BankBazaar.
YourStory caught up with Rati Shetty, BankBazaar’s co-founder and Chief Product Officer, to learn about her journey with BankBazaar so far, her future plans, and much more.
Tell us about your childhood, family background, education.
I was born into a family of entrepreneurs so I was always inclined to be one myself. With a penchant for learning, I gravitated towards entrepreneurship when a good opportunity presented itself. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from MOP Vaishnav College, Chennai.
Post my higher education, I spent a couple of years working in Taipei and in Miami working on international projects that involved taking super successful brands from one geography to a new one, where I facilitated the operations and execution of the same. I then returned to India to start BankBazaar with Arjun & Adhil.
What are the several taboos and challenges you had to face initially? Were there any taboos around being a woman venturing into entrepreneurship?
Amongst the many challenges faced initially while setting up BankBazaar.com, my gender wasn’t one. Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, it was but natural for me to take that route too and I have been lucky to be surrounded by people that supported and encouraged me every step of the way.
As an entrepreneur, I’ve seen first-hand the gamut of challenges and obstacles that meet most entrepreneurs with out-of-the-box, thus-far-unheard-of ideas. Transforming the long-winded, paperwork-heavy loan process into a streamlined, paperless process with instant approval was a novel idea for most bankers to digest at that time.
Initially, there was a lot of scepticism. People tend to have a mind block where the human element is not involved. It was difficult since it was a new idea for banks, but we were fortunate to meet the banks who were realising the power of the internet. We went to them with the prototype of the website and showed them the benefits they’d get. Getting our first partner bank to sign up was the toughest but after that, it got easier.
What have been your biggest failures and what have been the major learnings from them?
I have made plenty of mistakes. However, I view failure or unexpected outcomes as a chance to learn and to improve. Make failure your process fix. It’s important to step back, dive deep into why something failed or broke, and fix it with stronger and better solutions.
How and why did the initial fascination towards FinTech happen? What were the compromises you had to undergo in this process?
Finding strong and effective technological solutions to common problems has always been fascinating for me. When we were faced with the challenges of a tedious Home Loan application process, it was but natural to start thinking of how technology could simplify, hasten, streamline and make the entire process transparent.
Additional Reading: A Peep Into The Future Of Fintech
Tell us about the beginning of the entrepreneurial journey with BankBazaar. Why the name BankBazaar and how did it take shape?
Back in 2007, Arjun and I were trying to get a home loan. We personally experienced first-hand the tedious and time-consuming process for a Home Loan application, which sparked the idea for BankBazaar.com. We saw that the loan application process was long-winded and steeped in paperwork and red tape. After visiting multiple banks and jumping through several hoops to get a loan, the consumer had no way of knowing whether they really had got the best and most suitable offer for them. We thought about the idea for BankBazaar, spoke to a few people, and in two weeks, we started the company with Adhil Shetty on board as well.
We wanted a catchy name that people would remember. BankBazaar is a simple name that people across the country & outside can relate to. The name signifies a choice of banks and a one-stop shop for comparison and application for a financial product.
Tell us about the work-life balance and the challenges.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to achieve work-life balance. Every individual needs to figure out what works best for them. However, I’d say that one’s personal life and work life can actually complement each other and you do not have to give one up for the other. Be it at home or at the workplace, it all boils down to smart time and people management.
Organisation is important. It is also essential to always focus 100% on any task at home or the office. Structure isn’t only applicable to the workplace and freedom isn’t limited to your home – by infusing freedom into your work life, and a little structure into your personal life, you’ll find you get a lot of things done. Manage time, people and efficiently prioritize or optimise what you are doing both at home and the workplace.
How has the customer traction grown over the years? How has the improvement and evolution of the products over the years been? Current team strength.
The current team strength is over 1,000 people. We are very happy and grateful to see how Indian customers have embraced our business model and solutions to their financial needs. From just a few products on a website, we now offer a range of financial products like loans, Credit Cards, insurance, and Mutual Funds from 85+ partners across our website and mobile app. We’re seeing leaps in the number of returning customers and we’re amped to be able to support a customer throughout their financial journey in life. From their first Credit Card, first Car Loan, a Home Loan, insurance and products for retirement planning and financial security, BankBazaar has a customer covered.
How did BankBazaar acquire its first set of customers? How were the challenges like? How did it get easier later on?
When we first started, we used paid channels in the market like Google Adwords and display ads in the digital space to get our first set of customers. We believe that a good experience can rub off on users and go a long way in winning repeat customers to consume more products. The same individuals become brand evangelists, spreading the word about their own personal experience with a product.
As the landscape of the Indian internet population gradually grew, more people started to discover BankBazaar – many of them who were on the lookout for a great, clean shopping experience in the world of banking & finance – and engaged with us. Nothing about customer acquisition is easy! It’s a certain point of sync where everything comes together to create a “symphony” of an experience which, I believe, is the key decision factor based on which a user wants to engage and return for repeat purchases or not. Over time, we have grown a very loyal customer base and grown our offerings with every financial product, bringing on board over 85 partners, and presenting information in a way that the customer is looking for – all this in a neutral and transparent marketplace, which is free of cost, simple and instant.
Do you think workplaces are taking necessary steps towards employing more women? How is the scenario at BankBazaar?
There is definitely more of an emphasis on gender-balanced organisations now than before. Women make up a larger part of the workforce at a number of organisations as there is no dearth of highly qualified, capable women looking to pursue their professional aspirations. I am happy to say that BankBazaar is a part of this transformation. As of last year, the growth rate of female employees clocked 110% and 22% of leadership positions are held by women.
BankBazaar also has a comprehensive maternity policy that is considered among the best in the country or even globally. Besides a 26-week maternity leave, women can also take a 6-month sabbatical after their maternity leave. Under our BB Cares initiative, expectant mothers get extra breaks and special attention is paid to ergonomics with the provision of comfortable options like footstools and back supports. Our employees are our biggest asset, bringing tremendous skills and value to the table. This is our way of showing our appreciation and confidence in them.
Additional Reading: Women’s Day Special: Celebrating Women In Tech At BankBazaar
What have been the industry-first innovations so far? Future plans for BankBazaar.
We’re the numero uno fintech company with a dedicated focus on innovative technology and design, keeping a customer’s needs and experience at the core of all we do. We continue to be dedicated towards providing simple, clean and clutter-free product experiences using smart technology with innovations such as paperless transactions and instant approval/disbursal, and intelligent interface design. We’re going to continue this focussed approach so as to enable customers to access the right financial product while also having an enjoyable user experience.
This article was originally published on YourStory.