Big Idea

Investment advice gone wrong? Pickright charges you only if you’ve made a profit

This start-up connects investors with SEBI registered advisors to make the right investment calls

Growing your money can be tough. You have to navigate an outpour of financial jargon from news outlets, suggestions from parents, recommendations from relatives and might eventually fall in the trap of fake investment advisors and lose your hard-earned money. To guide Indian investors through this maze, Bengaluru-based Pickright Technologies is connecting investors to trusted advisors, who can help them in diversifying their earnings.

The start-up is the brainchild of Archana Elapavuluri and Namandeep Bhatia, who were colleagues at ShopX, an e-commerce platform. Bhatia, an avid trader, was looking for a trusted digital platform where stock market expert advisors give their trading recommendations. “When we looked around we realised that there are not many platforms available that give smart comprehensive planning and profiling of user, and personalised user wealth management digitally across assets and alternative investments,” says Elapavuluri. Even though a lot of fintech firms have built roboadvisory platforms, the two believed that they were mostly focused on equity. They felt there was a need to tap different user segments in multiple instruments such as P2P loans, tokenized real asset platforms and bonds. Thus, Pickright came into being in July 2019. Later, in December, Siddharth Panjwani who was the vice president at Lazard Asset Management in the US, joined the duo.

With no sign-up fee, one can either download the app or log in from the website as an investor. Once you are in, the platform asks whether you are looking at short-term investing or long-term. Based on that and other details such as age, gender, PAN number, savings and loans, the algorithm matches the user with a list of SEBI- or NISM-registered advisors exactly suited to his/her investment preference — equities, futures, commodities, options, forex, and more.

Then, the user can scroll through the advisors and check for their trust score, accuracy, historical data and followers. When convinced, they can purchase an advisor’s recommendation. “We have the digital sachet model, where investors can purchase a single recommendation. It is pay as you go,” explains Elapavuluri. The platform earns a 10% commission on what the advisors charge for a single recommendation, and the minimum amount charged is Rs.100. And, if the recommendation turns out to be a loss-making one, the user gets the money back in their Pickright wallet. To ensure consumers get the best advice, advisors’ performance is ranked on the platform through an AI that studies their strengths and weaknesses. Every analysis is factored into the advisor’s trust score. For executing a recommendation, Pickright has tied up with demat platforms Zerodha, MasterTrust and Alice Blue, where the user can be directed to with a single click.

Filtered from over 400 people, currently, only 65 advisors are active on the platform. “It is mandatory that the advisors have at least five years of experience,” says Bhatia. Before on-boarding an advisor, Pickright’s team of ten checks for certification, work experience and looks at referrals by existing advisors.

The start-up has raised around Rs.12.5 million in funding from Sanjay Mehta-led 100X.VC and angel investors including Vikram Pandya, director- fintech at SP Jain School of Global Management, Srinivas Paanem, CEO of Paanem group of investments, Satish Bogullu, CEO of Whitestone projects, and many others. “We are utilising the funds to strengthen the product and get the product-market fit,” says Elapavuluri. The plan is to create a credible platform and launch more products that can be monetized. They will also introduce a chat or call-in function soon. This will enable the investor to get deeper insights from the advisors. For the advsiors, the team is planning to create more tools such as charting software and analysis instruments that will help them improve their recommendations.

Like with most trading and investment platforms, Pickright also saw increased activity during the lockdown and has been growing at 30% month-on-month since March, on a negligible marketing budget. With plans to increase this budget and more partnerships in store, they are confident of acquiring 100,000 users by December 2020.