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Afthonia Lab} Helping FinTech startups expand in India & the globe + Advice for aspiring FinTech startups

Read more at thetechpanda.com

This FinTech focused incubator handholds every startup from start to finish. Startups incubated with them speak of the support they receive. Also, some advice for aspiring startups that want to make it in the complex FinTech sector.

India is counted amongst the fastest growing FinTech markets in the world. The Indian FinTech market is valued at US$31 billion at present and is projected to expand to US$84 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 22%, according to Invest India. Its transaction value size is set to grow from US$66 billion in 2019 to US$138 billion in 2023, at a CAGR of 20%.


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Of the 2,100+ FinTechs existing in India today, more than 67% were setup in the last five years. However, becoming a reliable FinTech startup is not that easy. To taste success, these FinTech startups face several daunting challenges.

Afthonia Lab, a FinTech incubator, is most interested in solving these challenges, Tanul Mishra, CEO of Afthonia Lab told The Tech Panda in an interview.

Tanul Mishra

We have supported our startup founders and team to refine their vision in some cases and experiment with the product with support from industry experts across the globe in others. I believe it is this sense of safe autonomy that has allowed for our startups to take a slightly different path from the traditional and forge a successful path

“We aim to be the one stop destination for FinTech startups, by providing a runway for building a successful business, provided the idea holds true merit, by ensuring they have access to mentorship from experienced panel of global mentors from diverse sectors and provide a framework for growth to any startup who is at an idea stage and also provide access to capital at the right time so that they have everything they need in order to become successful,” she says.

Afthonia Lab is India’s only private startup incubator that focuses on empowering FinTech startups. With a vision to build the future of finance in India, it provides access to global mentors, value-based learning, timely access to investors across globe and safe environment for startups and team to explore the product.

“We have supported our startup founders and team to refine their vision in some cases and experiment with the product with support from industry experts across the globe in others. I believe it is this sense of safe autonomy that has allowed for our startups to take a slightly different path from the traditional and forge a successful path,” she adds.

Case in Point: BlockSurvey

The founders of BlockSurvey early in 2019 had built a cryptocurrency exchange at which point they approached Afthonia Lab for incubation and got selected for the program. Whilst working with the incubator’s panel of global mentors along with industry experts they realised that the cryptocurrency space was still foetal and the regulations as a result were still ambiguous.

Launched in January 2020, BlockSurvey currently has 500+ active members and is used by individuals and companies. The total data downloaded using their services is more than 100GB to date.

This kind of pivot in business altogether was only possible because of the support they received from our carefully curated panel of mentors and advisors who helped them crack enterprise deals at an early stage in their new avatar, giving them the confidence and validation in their idea

“BlockSurvey turned cash positive within six months of the launch (during the pandemic) and broke even a few months down the line in 2021. This kind of pivot in business altogether was only possible because of the support they received from our carefully curated panel of mentors and advisors who helped them crack enterprise deals at an early stage in their new avatar, giving them the confidence and validation in their idea,” explains Mishra.

Case in Point: tarakki

Another example is tarrakki, a unique wealth tech platform focused on enabling wealth creation for anyone and everyone, irrespective of the stage of life they stand at. It is this thought process and the corresponding product they had built that prompted Afthonia to onboard them.

With the mentor panel support, tarrakki has been able to forge many industry first partnerships to deliver plug and play solutions for the wealthtech ecosystem, paving the way for a truly collaborative environment which has been unheard of so far in this industry

“Today, not only is their flagship offering, tarrakki Zyada, very popular, but with the mentor panel support, tarrakki has been able to forge many industry first partnerships to deliver plug and play solutions for the wealthtech ecosystem, paving the way for a truly collaborative environment which has been unheard of so far in this industry,” says Mishra passionately.

Solving Challenges

As is evident from the above examples, Afthonia Lab works closely with the startups as a part of their team to help bring in the objectivity and handhold them in the initial stages of their life cycle and provide the momentum they need in order to reach the next inflection point effectively and efficiently.

As such Mishra says they see different types of challenges hindering a FinTech startup’s path. Here is some valuable advice for aspiring startups that want to make it in the complex FinTech sector.

Data Security

As more players enter the market and grow transaction volumes, data security is a challenge startups can’t ignore, Mishra says.

“FinTech is a very sensitive space with customer’s financial data and there are a lot of concerns which become important to solve in order to build a business and sustain it,” she says.

FinTech is a very sensitive space with customer’s financial data and there are a lot of concerns which become important to solve in order to build a business and sustain it

“But to be fair, it’s a new industry, and as such the regulatory environment is also evolving, and as we move ahead, I do expect the regulations to catch up to ensure secure transactions just as we did with the financial industry itself when it was formed in the early days,” she adds.

Ethical Practices

It also becomes important for startups to focus on ethical practices with a secured and trusted platform, says Mishra.

“BNPL (Buy now pay later) can lead to chaos later if good practices are not inbuilt at the initial stages. So being discerning about your business model becomes critical,” she advises.

Gender Parity

Gender parity is another challenge, says Mishra quoting Cathy O’Neil, “algorithms can and do perpetuate inequality.”

“FinTech is all about artificial intelligence and machine learning, an algorithm is being created by man or woman to collect and share data. I think if only men or only women build an algorithm then it will have only one perspective, and this might turn biased,” she says.

If only men or only women build an algorithm then it will have only one perspective, and this might turn biased

Here, the 2019 incident of Apple’s credit card comes to mind, when the company was sued under for discrimination in providing unequal credit limit (higher for men and lower for women).

Startup Testimonials

 The Tech Panda also spoke to three startups that have incubated with Afthonia Lab to find out the kind of support they received straight from the horses’ mouth.

Monech

“Afthonia Lab has been the backbone of Monech right from Day 0. The team has helped us across each division of the business, company with an extremely focused and goal driven approach. Afthonia Lab brought us trust in incubation as it continues to thrive in the market and they reinstall the belief in startups. They give us confidence that incubators are partners and add tangible, intangible and “result-oriented” value” says Darsh Golechha, Founder of Monech.

Ginger Root code Factory

“Afthonia Lab has helped us to revisit our business plan, market strategy and discover not only local but also international experts and give access to markets enabling early breaks in business. They have always been very proactive and helps us to give logic and guidance in planning and execution of our fundraising,” says Hozefa Muchhala, Founder and CEO of Ginger Root Code Factory.

Earnvestt

“Afthonia Lab has helped us to refine and redefine the product, build the partnerships, expand our networks and create a viable business. Afthonia Lab’s mentors have provided us with true advice and gave us access to their personal network when required. Afthonia Lab has also provided us access to an ecosystem where we can share knowledge and ideas with fellow entrepreneurs and share the journey forward,” says Kunal Ahirwar, Co-founder and CEO of Earnvestt.



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