Finvasia Group: Entrepreneurship and Intrapreneurship

In today’s fast-paced world of consumerism, inundated by products and services promising to make peoples’ lives easier, the meticulous strategies and profound deliberations underpinning these innovations often escape the notice of the average consumer.

Yet, each advancement bears the imprint of a unique approach. In the case of the Finvasia Group, innovation does not involve cool gadgets and flashy app features but rather seeks to address profound socio-economic issues. Established in 2009 by brothers Tajinder and Sarvjeet Singh Virk, the India-based Group initially operated as an institutional investor. In 2019, it acquired Fxview, a Limassol-based online broker, laying the groundwork for its expansionary foray into new territories. Following the mantra that health and wealth are the most important considerations for people, the Group has since channelled significant investments into the healthcare sector.

“Typically,” Tajinder Virk says, “we keep our ears and eyes open for things that go toward solving a real problem that is not a derivative of another existing technology or application.” This involves building knowledge – scientific and technological – that will benefit future generations, wrapped into products that are affordable, accessible and scalable. However, the Group is not interested in putting money and effort into products that will enter saturated markets (think the so-called financial super apps) but rather looks for untapped niches within its verticals.

In healthcare, then, the Group aims to tackle the global issue of the doctor-to-patient ratio, which leads to significant bottlenecks in the provision of medical care, an issue compounded by the lack of specialists; in developed countries with free healthcare, for example, individuals can wait in line for up to six months to see a specialist. “Also, doctors are like every other human. There are good and bad doctors, much like there are good and bad engineers. So, why can’t we have a doctor of the highest calibre inside an artificial intelligence platform that can basically do 80% of the job a doctor would do?” Virk asks. Data from Finvasia’s hospital facility in India suggest that some 80% of patients receive similar prescriptions for identical symptoms, hinting at the direction that the Group might follow to solve the critical doctor shortage. Besides tapping into the trendy AI movement for solutions, Virk considers that the past is filled with brilliant ideas that were somehow lost in time. “How did we forget suddenly that food was used as medicine for the longest time in the history of mankind?” he ponders. To this end, the Group has recently filed for a patent for a food extract that can potentially treat fungal diseases. Another core challenge facing healthcare that the Group is looking to address is the fact that the human body is essentially a “black box” – the term is used in various fields to describe a system whose inner workings are not well understood or are too complex to easily explain. The Group has partnered up with the Indian Institute of Technology to build a biomedical engineering device based on nanotechnology that will potentially be able to track what is happening inside the body. “Can we somehow catch the diseases at the onset, when our chances of fighting the diseases are more than 95%?” Virk says.

Shifting the focus to financial services, having observed that living pay-cheque to pay-cheque has become increasingly prevalent among the global middle class, the Group aims to provide consumers with cumulative knowledge within their mobile applications, offering insights into their spending habits and areas for improvement. This feature will debut in the Group’s Indian neo bank app, aiming to create a genuine assistant that adds value without pressuring users to make purchases. “We are also focusing on innovating in the payments space, as we recognise numerous pain points in this area. Our product will emerge from stealth mode this year, bringing much-needed advancements to the payments sector,” he notes.

Before identifying a problem, it is crucial to delve deep into the root causes. Virk says that, just as misdiagnosing a patient based solely on symptoms can exacerbate their condition, offering a financial product that doesn’t align with a person’s needs can result in financial loss and dissatisfaction. “Unfortunately, finding the root cause of any given problem is much easier said than done – it is almost like trying to predict the future,” he notes. “But what you can do is put together as much knowledge and data as possible, removing your intuition, instincts and opinions. Let the data drive the decision-making process and then conduct some trial and error on top of it.”

The Group’s verticals present interesting opportunities for the cross-utilisation of processes and ideas that could ultimately supercharge innovation. This is particularly true for predictive statistical tools, since the same model can be used in both fintech and healthcare. “I believe this overlap happens de facto,” Virks suggests, “because the guys at the top of Finvasia all think the same. The benefit of having dedicated management for each one of the brands of Finvasia is that when we have our discussions, they all have something to bring to the table. And that makes it easier and more diverse to solve a certain problem.”

Virk strongly believes that the fact that the Group has always been self-funded has built confidence within the top management, making it easier to tackle new challenges and goals. Besides an ambitious C-level spine, Virk notes that the Group has handpicked a strong body of 600 employees that can deliver on the founders’ ideas. More importantly, he says, the Group actively seeks a balance of skill and the right mindset in its potential employees, recognizing the collective strength of the team in overcoming obstacles and driving innovation forward.

“If you look around, 99% of the problems you have are solved by entrepreneurs. There is nothing more beautiful than entrepreneurship, in terms of solving a problem and taking the bull by the horns,” Virk states but acknowledges in the same breath the sobering statistic that a significant portion of new entrepreneurs fail within their first two years, often due to a lack of funding and guidance. “I was fortunate because I had my brother and my father with me when I started this business and I was able to tick both of these boxes and deliver on our aspirations,” he notes. To this end, seeing tremendous potential for innovation and problem-solving within its 600-strong team, the Group encourages intrapreneurship. Virk believes that, within this pool of talent, there are individuals with their own ideas and aspirations and, by providing both financial resources and guidance – both readily available within the Group – it will empower them to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams and make meaningful contributions to solving real-world problems. Virk argues that by supporting internal ventures, employees will become integrated into the Finvasia ecosystem, generating new business opportunities for the Group, all the while fostering an environment where innovative solutions can thrive. Most importantly, any innovations developed by Finvasia employees will be owned by them, with Virk emphasising the importance of allowing people to shape their own destinies. And even if an employee’s venture fails, the experience gained will contribute to their growth and development, and as they remain connected to the Group, they can return as more seasoned professionals with valuable insights and experiences. In his own words, “This is a win-win situation.”

(This Special Feature first appeared in the April edition of GOLD magazine. Click here to view it.)

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