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From Proptech To Legaltech: 5 Startups From 9Unicorns’ DDay Cohort 3 Making Financial Solutions Accessible Across Sectors

SUMMARY

Vested Finance, LegalPay, ALYF, Numadic and Leverage Edu are among the startups to pitch their business models in 9Unicorns’ startup pitch event called DDay

These fintech startups operate across diverse sub-sectors, specialising in lendingtech, investment tech, legaltech, proptech and more

Despite a harsh funding winter, startups in this space raised the maximum funding in Q1 2023

Fintech startups across India have witnessed significant growth in recent years, fuelled by rising financial inclusivity and the increasing adoption of digital technologies for enablement, ease and convenience. The sector is now dominated by vast and vibrant platforms specialising in digital lending, litigation financing, investment advisory, property tech and other cutting-edge solutions required for a technology-driven era.  

According to an Inc42 report, the Indian fintech market is estimated to reach $2.1 Tn by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 18%. Also, more than 2K fintechs are now recognised by DPIIT (Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade), and this number is steadily growing as people continue to embrace digital solutions for their financial needs. 

Over the past few years, India’s fintech industry has been influenced by a series of regulatory challenges proposed and enacted by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). However, industry experts believe that stringent regulatory frameworks can actually help fintechs bolster consumer confidence. In fact, many fintech players have been focussing on self-regulation to build resilience and grow in the dynamic market.

Regardless of the existing challenges, investors seem bullish on India’s fintech potential, even during a harsh funding winter. According to an Inc42 report, this sector raked in the highest funding in the first quarter (Jan-Mar) of 2023, raising $1,285 Mn across 25 deals. 

As fintech in India continues to thrive, Mumbai-based accelerator VC fund 9Unicorns and startup incubator Venture Catalysts shine a spotlight on five promising portfolio startups making significant progress. These startups are part of the third cohort for DDay, a one-day pitching event for fundraising, to be held on April 18, 2023. 

DDay will see early and growth stage startups (seed to Series A) pitch their business models to 1.5K global and Indian investors. 

Stay tuned to know more, and take a look at the unique offering of five fintech startups from DDay’s third cohort.

Register For The Third Edition Of DDay

Vested Finance

vested Factsheet

The cross-border investment tech platform focussed on India was set up in 2018 by former investment banker Viram Shah, Haas Business School (University of California) MBAs Darwin Arifin and Eric Huynh, and former Google executive Yinghan Lin, who was technology senior partner and manager there.

The SEC-registered investment advisor, headquartered in Berkeley, has joined hands with 35 Indian partners, including brokers, fintech players and wealth management firms such as Axis Securities, Kuvera, Angel Broking and 5Paisa, to help Indians (and NRIs) invest directly in U.S. stocks, ETFs and pre-built investment portfolios. 

These are curated portfolios built on goals and themes, keeping in mind investors’ risk tolerance, much like the mutual funds or PMS offerings in India, which are passively managed. Investing in them reduces the time and effort newcomers must put in to thoroughly understand global markets and individual stock performances.

The broker-dealer also provides all stock-related information, including income statements, performance charts, analyst ratings and more, as well as blogs to educate users and help them make informed decisions on US equity markets.

The platform allows retail investors from India to open accounts within minutes to start putting their money into preferred companies. It also claims it charges zero commission from users and has a secure system in place to ensure data safety.

In October 2022, Vested Finance obtained a licence from FINRA, the regulatory body for brokers and dealers in the US. It claims to be the only fintech platform operating in India with a FINRA licence.    

LegalPay 

legally factsheet

Long-drawn-out legal procedures in India and subsequent legal expenses can easily overwhelm businesses without deep pockets. Corporate debtors seeking interim financing also find it difficult to raise timely funding due to stringent parameters of legacy FIs in assessing debt worthiness. Aware of these pain points, Delhi-based LegalPay stepped in with an alternative funding platform to help businesses with litigation and interim financing.

Set up by serial entrepreneur Kundan Shahi in 2019, LegalPay provides financial support for commercial claims in legal disputes and covers a number of areas such as contracts, IP, banking and insurance matters, as well as class action suits. The startup provides up to INR 50 Cr for interim finance to help investors generate asset-backed fixed income.

The platform facilitates non-recourse litigation funding, which means third-party investors (High net individuals or HNIs) cover legal expenses in exchange for a share of the proceeds recovered from case resolution. It conducts extensive due diligence before any funding and has recently launched LegalPlay Max, enabling businesses to pay for legal services and professional expenses in instalments. With this service, businesses can avail of a credit line up to INR 50 Lakh for all types of legal and professional expenses, including transactions, advisory, arbitration and more.

It also acquired a minority stake in Gujarat-based NBFC Padmalaya Finserve in January 2023. The NBFC will disburse credit worth INR 1K Cr towards legal expenses as part of the deal.

Besides financial assistance, it has onboarded 2K+ legal professionals, offering businesses a platform to connect with lawyers and law firms.

In 2022, the platform set up a $2 Mn Justice and Inclusion Fund to invest in legaltech companies and startups focussing on financial inclusion. 

ALYF

ALYF factsheet

Owning a vacation property may seem out of bounds for most Indians. But a proptech platform helps realise this dream through a ‘smart ownership’ model. 

In 2022, ALYF was set up by former NoBroker executive Saurabh Vohara and former wealth manager at DBS Karan Chandiok. Based in Mumbai, the startup has developed a unique marketplace for holiday homes, enabling homeowners to sell their properties fully or partially while offering others the opportunity to ‘co-buy’ or partly own these vacation homes. 

The tech-enabled platform finds and vets co-owners to ensure fair pricing for property owners. Sellers can also bring in more co-owners for these deals. On the other hand, aspiring buyers can consult with an ALYF advisor regarding their requirements or mention a suitable property that the platform can acquire on their behalf.   

A holiday home can be owned individually or co-owned by up to eight people who buy the shares in the property-specific SPV and get the right to use the property for a specific period depending on the shareholding. For instance, if a holiday home costs INR 2 Cr and a ‘co-buyer’ has paid INR 25 Lakh (the starting amount for ownership) for one-eighth ownership, they can use the property for 44 days a year whenever it is convenient for them (and other co-owners). 

ALYF also handles legal requirements such as due diligence, title ownership and taxes and offers zero-cost maintenance services. 

The startup currently lists and sells properties in popular holiday destinations like Goa and Lonavala. It plans to expand to popular holiday getaways like Alibaug and Coorg and overseas destinations like Dubai.  

Numadic

nomadic factsheet

India aims to match its highway infrastructure with that of the US by 2024, and several measures were taken in the past decade to build a tech-driven ecosystem for smooth transportation. Rolled out by NPCI in 2014, FASTag is one such programme that thrives on a robust framework and interoperability.

In simple terms, this electronic toll payment solution uses radio frequency identification (RFID) technology for directly transferring the toll charge from a user’s linked account to the authorised recipient. Its cashless, hassle-free usage (the RFID chip is affixed on the vehicle’s windscreen for instant processing, and drivers need not stop at toll gates) ensures speedy, undisrupted journeys for commuters and cargo. 

In a bid to expand the FASTag advantage further and get closer to autonomous mobility, serial entrepreneurs Luke Sequiera and Aprup Shet (Haston Silva, Karishma Shadiza and Yesh Surve were also in the founding team) launched Numadic, a fintech SaaS that develops APIs for banks, wallets and other financial service providers, enabling them to build seamless white-label solutions for FASTag transactions.

By integrating Numadic’s FASTag APIs, issuers can monitor customers’ transactions, view their transaction history and allow them to link credit/debit cards for FASTag payments. 

The Goa-based startup also ran pilots with Hindustan Petroleum and IndianOil to test if FASTag could work for automating fuel payment. Subsequently, it partnered with ICICI Bank and IDFC First Bank to launch FASTag-enabled Nu Fuel Pay solutions at select petrol pumps. It claims to have helped more than 80 Lakh consumers and expects to cover 70% of the country’s fuel retailers by 2024.  

Numadic also works with enterprise clients, enabling them to automate fleet monitoring and allowing them to track vehicular movement and identify vehicles through FASTag IDs. 

Leverage Edu

Leverage Edu Factsheet

Millions of students seek admission to foreign universities every year to learn their desired skill sets and gain international exposure for a smooth career progression. According to the Ministry of education, the number of Indian students going abroad increased by 68% to 7.5 Lakh+ in 2022 compared to 4.5 Lakh in the previous year. 

Despite the rising numbers, many students still fall short of enrolling in their dream college for two main reasons: a lack of enough funds and the absence of comprehensive student counselling to determine what will work best for them. Overseas learning is expensive, and not all can avail of an education loan in India, given the strict criteria of banks and FIs.         

Founded in 2017 by serial entrepreneur Akshay Chaturvedi, Leverage Edu aims to bridge both gaps as it is closely aligned with the students keen to pursue quality education away from their home country.

The Delhi NCR-based startup has developed an end-to-end career guidance platform, helping students select the right programmes and top colleges through personalised career counselling (mentorship) and providing access to loans and scholarships to finance their education. Leverage Edu’s AI-powered university course finder also helps students match their profiles with the best-suited courses and universities in the UK, the US, Germany and Canada.

In addition, the platform assists students with post-admission requirements such as securing visa and accommodation abroad. Leverage Edu’s personalised dashboard features all relevant student information to simplify the admission process. 

Last year, the startup announced its foray into education-focussed financial services through the loan disbursement business Fly Finance, which joined hands with 10+ lending partners such as Axis Bank, HDFC Credila, Prodigy Finance and Power Financing, among others. Besides, students can apply for scholarships worth INR 20K-3 Lakh (disbursed through the startup’s financing partners). The scheme is available to all students regardless of the courses. 

In October 2022, Leverage Edu announced that Fly Finance received an FFMC (full fledged money changer) licence from the RBI, which would help students further. Incidentally, an FFMC is an authorised body that can purchase foreign exchange from non-resident and resident Indians and sell the same for private and business travel purposes. 

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From Proptech To Legaltech: 5 Startups From 9Unicorns’ DDay Cohort 3 Making Financial Solutions Accessible Across Sectors-Inc42 Media
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