2020 was a unique year in itself ― a lot of technology-based start-ups saw a surge in business ― while those that did not take the leverage of technology saw a fall too. A major reason behind it was the pandemic that made people sit at home, eventually forcing them to go digital. This resulted in a spike in the fintech and edtech sector as a lot of people started trading and learning new skills/ tools.
Entrepreneurs who knew what the pandemic was bringing to the table didn’t fail to take advantage of both the industries ― fintech and edtech ― eventually tapping on to a whole new set of opportunities.
One such trio from the city of joy, Kolkata, did exactly the same. When the whole world was locked down, their ventures StockEdge and Elearnmarkets, were exploring the new ‘normal’!
StockEdge and Elearnmarkets have been co-founded by Vivek Bajaj, Vineet Patawari and Vinay Pagaria. Both Vivek and Vineet are Chartered Accountant and IIM Indore graduate, while Vinay is a Chartered Accountant by qualification but a hard-core techie by profession.
Their cumulative experiences and expertise in the field of financial markets, learning management systems, visualisation of learning tools and most importantly, their passion for spreading financial market education makes them the perfect team to take their product and service to the global scale.
In 2014 they realised that the financial market education industry in India is very unstructured and fragmented. This made them launch Elearnmarkets to streamline and structure the journey for individuals who want to make a career in the financial markets.
Elearnmarkets is a unique interactive online education platform committed to taking practically oriented finance training to the next level. “Here we use technology to spread knowledge; our courses make use of high-end and interactive learning management systems. We also provide a platform to market experts and enable practical experience sharing with the learners. This helps us create a large pool of learners who are well trained, skilled and a perfect fit to fill the manpower requirement of the industry,” says the founders.
In 2016, the trip came up with their second venture, StockEdge (SE), which started as a sidekick to help learners get structured data of listed companies along with cutting edge analytics.
StockEdge has now turned into full-fledged equity and mutual fund research tool. With the app garnering over 2 million downloads, it has become the growth driver for the organisation. For an enhanced learning experience, the analytics, data, financial statements from StockEdge are integrated with the respective course modules in Elearnmarkets.
Simplifying finance for all
StockEdge is a niche player concentrating on the finance sector, which intends to meet lifetime needs of learning finance, tracking financial markets, earning & managing money. No other existing platform combines all the requirements of a learner & practitioner of finance in such a compact and simple manner. It works with a single objective of ‘simplifying finance for all’.
“In the financial market education ecosystem, we have a lot of traders and investors who have vast hands-on experience and conduct their own training programs. Then there are well-renowned courses in the field of finance, tax, audits such as CA, CFA and CS. However, there was no structured way of making a career in the financial market.
Elearnmarkets managed to streamline and structure the journey for individuals who want to make a career in the financial market. Our courses are certified by the National Stock Exchange (NSE), Multi Commodity Exchange (MCX) and National Commodity & Derivatives Exchange Limited (NCDEX), which gives credibility and helps individuals to achieve their career goals,” they further added.
Who are the audience?
The targeted audience for both StockEdge and Elearnmarkets is primarily youngsters who are new to the stock market, job seekers, young earners, and retirees. Technically, anyone who is interested in the stock market but lacks proper knowledge and mentorship.
On asking why the trio chose Kolkata and not any other startup-focused city like Bangalore or Delhi, they say, “Kolkata has the advantage of having the right manpower and quality manpower in terms of dedication to work. At Elearnmarkets and StockEdge, we have a workforce of over 150 employees, and we feel that each one of them is highly dedicated to whatever role they play in the company. So, that is the advantage of a city like Kolkata, and that’s the culture of this beautiful city that brings that kind of advantage to a workplace.”
Building a nex-gen company
“Ours is a young, vibrant company established with the vision of taking online financial education to a new level, both in India and abroad. Guided by our mission of spreading financial literacy, we constantly experiment with new education methodologies and technologies to make financial education convenient, effective, and accessible to all.
The employees here are diverse but at the same time united by a common motto which is ‘simplifying finance’. Our culture encourages, supports, and celebrates our diversification and looks to expand and build it constantly,” they further continue.
One of the challenges they recently faced was the sudden inflow of new participants into the stock market as they had to quickly scale up their operations to provide a high-quality service to users. They hired more than 70 people in various roles to facilitate this. At the same time, they also started new initiatives such as the Face2Face series and ELM school to help first-time participants learn about stock markets.
Vineet had earlier launched his own venture, Fireup, an online platform to help students & professionals in preparing for CAT. However, it did not work since the online learning industry wasn’t really big back in 2008. He eventually joined Vivek to launch Elearnmarkets later.
“Some of the major things I’ve learned is never to be afraid to try and experiment ― not to worry about the outcome or end result. Focus more on the process and your passion for it. The whole idea is to know that there are areas where people have friction points, and we as an entrepreneur should aim to reduce those friction points,” Vineet shares.
In the market
Currently, Elearnmarkets has over 2.2M monthly website views. The app has been downloaded over 320K times. On the other hand, StockEdge has over 2 million app downloads with over 505K monthly active users and a 4.4 ― the highest-rated finance app in this category in India. On a combined level, SE & Elearnmarkets saw a 3x jump in their monthly users during COVID-19.
The trio wishes to become an integrated solution provider for individual investors in India in the domain of personal financial management. They aim to turn retail participants into independent decision-makers by incorporating artificial intelligence and machine learning. In the next 18-24 months, they plan to expand our roots in the tier-2 & tier-3 cities as well as abroad and aim to increase their current combined user base of 1.8 million to 5 million.
The ‘piece’ of advice
“We believe that it is ‘perseverance’! Once you are into something, you need to stick out your neck and be there for some time because building anything valuable takes time. Don’t get blinded by the glamour or the fundraising news. For some, it happens faster, and for some, it takes more time but if you are there, know that it will happen to you too.
Also, never stop learning! You will be able to sustain until your learning curve is steeper than your organisation’s growth curve,” they end with sharing the golden rule they follow.
[Featured Image: (L-R) Vinay Pagaria, Vineet Patawari, Vivek Bajaj]