Interview: Pranshu Maheshwari, SimpleMoney – on track for investment tracking
In an exclusive interview with Soumik Roy, our editorial contributor in India, Pranshu Maheshwari, co-founder of SimpleMoney, explains the problem he’s out to solve with his business, the value he brings to the market, and why he isn’t in the robo-advisory game.
Maheshwari, a Wharton School graduate, recently returned to India to set up a platform that helps investors track their fragment equity and mutual fund portfolios.
Dubbed SimpleMoney, the platform uses artificial intelligence (AI) to read email statements received from broking and fund houses, and creates an online dashboard that consolidates all investments held by the user.
The platform automatically updates the portfolio by retrieving investment related emails as and when they arrive in the user’s inbox. It also shows all of the user’s historical transactions and investments related to the email ID.
While this doesn’t seem very sophisticated, Maheshwari tells us otherwise: “Most platforms in this space, all of which cater to investors outside India, use some kind of screen scraping tool to fetch investments and build their dashboards. SimpleMoney uses machine learning to get the job done – it’s smarter, more efficient, and way more intelligent.”
Maheshwari’s team is working towards supporting more investment products as the platform inches closer to launching a paid-version in April this year. Although SimpleMoney isn’t quite struggling for funds – it has the support of some of the investors who supported the co-founders’ last two ventures, Prayas Analytics and MetricBoy.
“We spent more than three years on Prayas Analytics and were backed by Y Combinator, but it didn’t quite work out,” reminisces Maheshwari, who is optimistic about the future of SimpleMoney.
Recent regulations in India allow investors to bypass advisors, save on commissions, and invest directly in mutual funds. However, that means investments aren’t all in one place and that advisors can’t track them on behalf of the investor. SimpleMoney solves the problem by not only automatically adding that fund to your portfolio by looking up email statements from the fund house but also allows you to share access to your dashboard with your advisor.
“SimpleMoney is really designed to make tracking investments easy for investors. It’s designed to solve the problem my father and I had – we used to spend hours making spreadsheets tracking our investments every few months,” says Maheshwari, who doesn’t believe that the platform has any direct competitors at the moment in the Indian market.
The data scientist doesn’t see any threats to his business from robo advisors either. He believes that there’s be a lot of good and smart robo-advisors in India soon, but as trends in more developed markets suggest – investors will just treat these as ‘funds-of-funds’ and continue to invest on multiple platforms and with multiple fund houses. SimpleMoney will continue to hold its place, at the bottom of the pyramid, tracking every investment.