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How Stock Investment Startup StockGro Leveraged Its Partner Networks To Build A 20 Mn+ User Community

SUMMARY

Stock market social investment platform StockGro allows users to learn trading in a simulated environment without risking capital

It has partnered with more than 500+ educational institutions, brands and corporate houses in India to educate millennials about stock market trading

The startup claims a 5x annual growth in user base between August 2021 and October 2022

Traditionally, most newbies and retail investors have avoided the Indian stock market as a way to make money because they lacked the knowledge of the market’s nitty-gritty and could not stomach its volatility. But this trend has changed in the past few years, especially since the pandemic. With inflation on the rise, job losses escalating and wage stagnation on the cards, many are turning to capital markets as their go-to investment space, spurring a flood of new retail investors.  

Consider this. In August 2022, the number of registered demat accounts breached the 100 Mn mark for the first time, according to the National Securities Depository Limited (NDSL) and Central Depository Services (CDSL). This is more than double the number recorded in March 2020 which stood at 40.9 Mn.

A 2021 SBI report puts the rise to falling interest rates on deposits. Weaker economic conditions combined with the Covid-related uncertainties have driven Indian investors to stock market trading to supplement their incomes.   

But the risk factor has not gone down by any means. India’s financial literacy rate is abysmally low at 27.6% for the 25-44 age group. So, unlike seasoned and savvy investors, the lure of big bucks can do the newcomers more harm than good.

To help people understand how the market works and how to build a solid financial corpus despite the uncertainties, former venture capitalist Ajay Lakhotia set up the stock market education platform StockGro in 2020. 

The Bengaluru-based fintech startup helps users discuss and share knowledge and ideas about stock market trading on its app and allows them to test trading strategies in a simulated environment.

Users can also win rewards by competing on the StockGro platform, wherein they compete against each other using their virtual portfolios. “Many analysts, veteran investors, algo traders and fund managers use the StockGro app to share their investment strategies and help us democratise the investment process,” Lakhotia told Inc42 in an earlier conversation.

The platform has partnered with more than 500+ business schools, colleges and educational institutions, brands and more to expand its community of stock trading enthusiasts. 

“I believe the younger generation will lead India’s financial boom,” said Lakhotia. 

Its partners include top-tier institutions such as IIM-Bangalore, BITS Pilani, IIT-Kharagpur, IIT-Roorkee and more. 

The startup claims 20 Mn unique app downloads and said that 12 Mn+ monthly active users engage in learning activities on StockGro. Between August 2021 and October 2022, the startup clocked a 5x annual growth in user base, it claimed. 

How Partnerships And Sponsorships Have Put StockGro On The Growth Path

The concept of trading educators is not new. The Wall Street Survivor, based in Montréal, Quebec, Canada was launched in 1990 as a financial education platform for decoding stock trading and personal finance in a risk-free way. In 2012, it pivoted to an online gamified simulator that uses virtual currency and virtual stock exchange to train people even more thoroughly. 

The Indian platform has gone further and built a strong network of academic institutions, major stock investors, chartered accountants, students and brands for inclusivity and growth. All these partnerships have started to contribute significantly to StockGro’s revenue, said Lakhotia. 

The turning point came in 2021 when it partnered with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) and the Northern India Regional Council of the ICAI (NIRC) to launch a stock market quiz competition called The War of Wall Street. 

The event spanned four weeks and brought together renowned finance gurus, including  Rajiv Poddar, founder of Knowledge Capsules; Avadhut Sathe, founder of Avadhut Sathe Trading Academy; and Vivek Mashrani, founder of TechnoFunda Investing.

According to StockGro, more than 2 Lakh students and working professionals attended the maiden event. “It was a massive success. Currently, about 20 educational institutions and corporate houses get involved in these monthly leagues for brand promotion,” said Lakhotia. 

The startup charges its partners a convenience or SaaS fee for sponsoring and hosting the competitions on its app. The price varies based on the maximum number of participants anticipated by a partner, and the latter also sponsors the prize pool, in association with StockGro. 

For instance, StockGro partnered with electric scooter startup Bounce Infinity in January 2022 to host a competition on its app, and the top three won Bounce bikes. 

“Companies partner with us to create product awareness as Bounce did. These partnerships also allow us to roll out new features and keep our users engaged. Besides, this vast [partner] network acts as a great word-of-mouth marketing tool,” said Lakhotia. 

Today, 60% of StockGro’s user base comes from Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities, while Tier 3 accounts for the rest. Observing the inflow from Tier 3 locations, Lakhotia said, “Studies show that by the end of 2022, 31% of Indians will invest in mutual funds, and 10% will be investing in equities. There is so much scope for us to acquire new users, including those in non-metros, and educate everyone about the financial markets.” 

To drive brand awareness further by connecting with cricket lovers in every nook and cranny, the fintech startup signed a deal with the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in March 2022 as its official sponsor for the Indian Premier League. 

“We launched a campaign with the RCB players across social media and broadcast television. Our ad films got millions of views in no time,” said Lakhhotia. 

StockGro claims to have gained around 25K followers on Instagram after announcing its partnership with the RCB. It also saw a 8%+ rise in aided brand awareness and more than 5% rise in brand messaging.

How India’s Power Play In The Stock Market Can Help

Given the rising interest in stock markets, a slew of virtual trading platforms such as Moneypot, Neostox, StockGro and its ilk have come up in recent years. However, Stockgro aims to emerge as a one-stop destination for all personal finance requirements and is aiming to expand its experiential learning model across asset classes like commodities and forex trading. 

It is also collaborating with stockbrokers such as ICICI, Angel One and HDFC and aims to hit 50 Mn app downloads by FY24 from the current 20 Mn (150% growth). The startup wants to surpass the 100 Mn mark in the next three to five years. It also targets at least a 10x rise in revenue in the same time period. 

According to a report by Goldman Sachs, new IPOs may add up to $400 Bn of market cap over the next couple of years, taking India’s total market cap to more than $5 Tn from $3.5 Tn in 2021. The estimated rise will make India the fifth largest market by capitalisation by 2024. 

This will open a world of opportunities for investors exploring the stock market. With the help of educators like StockGro, even newcomers can play their cards right and ace stock market trading.

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