Today on Fintech we are please to speak to Eela, Co-Founder of EduFund. EduFund is India’s first dedicated investment advisory app for higher education. With the help of its strategic partners and investors such as ViewTrade Holding Corp., the EduFund app gives parents an opportunity to build nest-eggs by investing in Indian markets and abroad.
Who are you and what’s your background?
My first foray into the world of fin-tech started with my first job at a quantitative hedge fund. Today, when we hear the word “fintech” it’s easy for our minds to think of day-trading apps or robo-advisors that cater to the mass market. But I started my career working for a commodities trading advisor (CTA), where 99% of trades were based off systems and algos. Technology was utilized in a sizable way, though I would only come to appreciate this much later when I started EduFund.
To back track: I completed undergrad from NYU. I dropped out of a master’s program at Columbia University due to financial constraints, which got me thinking of how to become more financially responsible and pay off my loans. Though I never formally studied finance in college, I was intrigued by financial markets and recognized how important it was for even a layperson to understand the basics of how to manage their money. Very serendipitously, I landed a role working in financial services where I received immense exposure to the world of trading and markets. I was lucky to have a team of colleagues who were great teachers. Yet at the same time I knew that I did not want to be a career financier for the rest of my life- there was something more.
This is when I decided to move to India, where instead of jumping right into work I decided to take a short sabbatical to decide my next move. It was during this time that I lived on an ashram, where I studied yoga and meditation. The curious relationship between yogic practices and finance is that both are based on the psychology of the mind. Yogic practices teach us observation, awareness, and stillness- all qualities that are necessary whilst making investment decisions but also qualities that can be forsaken in times of panic. I credit so much of my philosophy of how to run a team and company back to this time; a time where I learned how critical it is for decision makers to have clear minds and compassion.
When I realized that I was ready to go back to work I dove back into the world of financial services with an asset management company. This is when I met my current co-founder, Arindam. The seeds of EduFund were sown right then and there. We spent about two years studying the market and assessing the product market fit for EduFund, until in 2020 when we finally took the plunge and started building the app!
What is your job title and what are your general responsibilities?
As a founder the sky is the limit! Though no day is the same, I could be working on making product decisions, managing tech, reading over content, and helping on ops.
But my biggest responsibility is being the team cheerleading captain.
Can you give us an overview of your business?
We like to call EduFund India’s first 529. Though it comes with a few additional bells and whistles, the core product is focused around helping parents start a nest egg for their children. At present, our app is divided into four main areas:
1) Cost discovery: we have created a college calculator that helps parents and students understand the costs they will incur when they’re ready to go to college. Whether a child is 2 years old or 12 years old, we study certain metrics like education inflation, accommodation fees, and rupee devaluation to give a thorough estimate of the fees parents will incur when their child is ready to pursue their degree. Today, parents can choose from global universities across 15 countries and 6 specializations to get a very close estimates of cost.
2) Multi-asset investments: The EduFund app allows parents to invest in asset classes across Indian mutual funds, US equities, and digital gold. Once the cost discovery process is over, parents are prompted to start investing a monthly amount that will help them reach their goal quicker. Because every individual’s risk appetite varies, our robo-advisor suggests funds and asset classes to best suit their needs.
3) Loans: There may be a shortfall in funds that a parent has saved. Or a student may come to us and say that their parents never saved at all, and they need financial assistance. In those cases, the EduFund app helps these parents and students secure education loans.
4) Counselling: Financial preparedness is just half the journey. The other side of education planning involves academics. In cases where students need help with the admissions process, have questions around competitive exams, or simply need further guidance on what field to study the EduFund app provides access to academic counsellors to help clarify these doubts.
Tell us how you are funded.
EduFund is backed by both angel investors and one institutional player- ViewTrade Holding Corp. To date, we have raised a pre-seed round of $350,000 and are gearing up for our seed round this winter.
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