The stock markets across the world are experiencing frequent crashes due to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, the crash and recovery are not new for stock markets. “For the last two months, stock markets have been very volatile but have also seen unprecedented participation from retail investors. We as a prudent organization are helping our clients both on the professional and personal front,” says Prakarsh Gagdani, CEO, 5Paisa.com. On the professional front, 5Paisa.com is actively asking its customers to invest in mutual funds, safe stocks, and gold. The company is also doing campaigns asking customers not to speculate in such markets and lose money. Prakarsh adds, “On the personal front, to help our customers in these times, we gave Rs. 50, 000 as a personal loan to clients without documentation and fees at a meagre rate. It was done only for supporting their daily needs in these bad times.”
Started operations in 2016, 5paisa.com is a leading stockbroker in India. Prakarsh recalls, “I started this journey five years back and built 5Paisa from scratch. There has not been a single day in the last five years, where I did not have problems and challenges to solve.” However, the growth was rather quick for 5paisa.com, as it became one of the top 10 brokers in just four years of operations, which is much better than any other broker in the country. “The biggest problem for us and any startup is, how to scale your business exponentially with limited capital. Another big problem is how to solve more problems with the least no of people. Though it is a continuous work-in-progress, we have been successful in solving these two issues to some extent,” shares Prakarsh.
On Novembers 2017, 5Paisa.com was listed on BSE and NSE. “To get your company listed is a quite different feeling. It suddenly makes you more accountable and responsible. I am not longer running this company for myself and my 1000 employees but more than 25000 shareholders who have faith in me and my company,” says Prakarsh.
Overcoming the Initial Challenges
Before 5paisa.com, there were two challenges in the broking industry. One was the rising cost of running business and second was high brokerage charges which were pinching customers and was detrimental to industry growth. “We realized that the solution to this is only two things, Mobile and Internet. From day one, we focused all our energies only on building a mobile app which is self-sufficient for customers, and they will not need any help of any person to carry their business,” explains Prakarsh. The relentless efforts from Prakarsh and his team resulted in 5paisa.com being the broker with the highest business done on the Mobile app. Prakarsh adds, “Over 75 per cent our business happens on the mobile app, which is unique to us only.”
Today, 5Paisa has a full suite of financial products. “We were noticeably clear from the start that we will only have financial products which can be transacted 100 per cent online without any paperwork and human intervention. Hence, now we have equities, mutual funds, research & advisory, insurance (Only health and term), personal loans and gold on our platform. What makes us unique is all of this is bundled in one mobile app,” states Prakarsh.
Harnessing the Energy of a Young Workforce
5Paisa.com has a young and energetic team with more than 90 per cent of its employees yet to cross 35 years of age. “I am the oldest among my core top team,” says Prakarsh. However, age does not play any politics at 5Paisa.com. Prakarsh knows that hierarchy and multiple layers would slow down the growth and discourage innovation. That is why, even today, 5Paisa.com has a flat structure. “Barring customer service and sales, no other department has more than ten people. My core team members are not the heads. They are the owners,” pinpoints Prakarsh.
Inculcating sense ownership among the workforce helps the company in many ways. “As owners, they find solutions to the problems, implement and are responsible for the results. I am fine with people making mistakes because they learn from that and shoulder responsibility with me,” explains Prakarsh. Though he continually interacts with each other, as a practice, he meets with every department once in a month only to discuss new ideas. Prakarsh adds, “The idea should be either to improve customer experience or to improve internal efficiency. It has helped us a lot as the junior-most person in the team sometimes comes with the best idea.”
Education and Influencers
An average student throughout his school and college days, Prakarsh holds Post Graduation in Business Management. “I have never come in top 3 or never got a rank. However, I have learned one important lesson. It does not matter whether you are a master of something, but it matters whether you are Jack of all,” says Prakarsh, who did everything from sports to dance, orating to debating, and competing to leading. Of all the things he learned, Prakarsh gives the highest importance to communication. He adds, “To become a leader you need to be a good communicator, as it requires knowledge, articulation, clarity of thoughts, and command on language. For a leader, these are the tools to succeed.”
Over the years, Prakarsh is fortunate to have worked with successful entrepreneurs. He is highly influenced by Nirmal Jain, Founder and Chairman of India Infoline (IIFL) Group, a financial conglomerate. “It has been five years I am closely working with him, but even now there is something that I learn from him every day,” shares Prakarsh. In 2016, Nirmal Jain’s IIFL Holdings Board had invested Rs.100 Crores in 5Paisa.com. “Nirmal still works more than most of us. He is still excited about starting something new, and he is still deeply involved in the grass-root level. I feel these qualities make him one of the most successful 1st generation businessmen of our country,” adds Prakarsh.
5Paisa.com is recognized for ‘Best use of Mobile Technology in Financial Services’ and accredited as Premier Depository Participant by CDSL. Prakarsh states, “Fintech is very much an explored sector by startups, but most have been around lending and payments. In the capital market, I see some good innovative concepts around research and advisory. Building models involving tech and research tools will be one trend I see for 2020.” Prakarsh understands that online business has a monopolistic competitive environment, and there is space only for two or three players. “For 5Paisa, my short-term goal is to be in Top 3 and for long term to sustain that place,” concludes Prakarsh.