It Is Your Tenacity That Keeps You in the Game - Bandhul Bansal

1. Tell us more about your company and your journey.

Finstreet is India’s most trusted financial coaching platform. We specialize in personal finance and work with the objective to make India financially literate. Our team of driven individuals is focused on making vital knowledge about the finance sector accessible and coherent to the masses.

It was in 2015 that I founded Finstreet and ever since, our journey has been full of many ups and downs. We started off as a crowdfunding platform where we educated poeple about various investment opportunities. By this time, I had already co-founded a company with my friend and colleague, Litesh. 

QuadB, a custom apparel manufacturing brand, had serious potential for growth and so I counselled my clients to invest in it. All of our investors were able to yield a good profit from investing in us and told us as much.

However, once we decided to put a pin in it, our clients came up to me asking me continue as a financial coach since they had benefited a lot from it in the past. They wanted to know more about this avenue of life and insisted that I remain their consultant. It was then that I realized the importance and need for financial education in India.

We registered Finstreet as an education company and started conducting workshops and classes to spread the fiscal word. We focused our offline coaching model for four years, during which time, we were able to successfully coach many people and help them secure their future.

But we soon realized that an offline model was keeping us from reaching our goal of expanding financial literacy amongst people. This is why in 2019, we shifted to an online education model which was more accessible to people. We set up an online platform and almost immediately, had an overwhelming response from students all over the country. 

2. How did you come up with this idea and go about executing it?

The idea for Finstreet came to me while I was overseeing finances for QuadB. Since it was completely bootstrapped, we had to creative in order to raise funds for it. This was when I had my Eureka moment.

Two things that I had always enjoyed, even when I was in college, were trading in the stock market and advising my colleagues on how to make better portfolios for themselves. The plan was that since I already was consulting people on how to manage their finances, I could also land possible investors for our company. 

I quickly managed to get the attention of a few of them and began consulting them on how to improve their portfolio. They received great returns on their investments and were satisfied with our service.

Gradually, we realized the importance of an online education model for our company and started working towards creating a more accessible platform for our students. We first expanded our reach through several social media channels by creating good-quality content and making it easily available to people. 

We made sure to keep all our content simple enough so even people who were not from a finance background could understand it just fine. This proved to be a more scale-able model since a major portion of the Indian population lacked the necessary skills to create a financially secure future for themselves. 

An online platform helped us reach more people, irrespective of their location. Since then, there has been no turning back. We have always moved forward with the idea to boost the financial literacy of India and are constantly working to bring it to fruition.

3. What has been your biggest challenge that you faced and how did you overcome that?

In a country where over two-third of the population lacks basic financial cognition, the biggest challenge in front of us was making people understand the importance of financial guidance in their lives.

Most individuals spend a good portion of their lives unaware of the influence this avenue has in shaping their future. Therefore, they lack the proper skill-set necessary for building a profitable portfolio, or even understanding what it is. What’s more, they prefer taking the "advise" from their acquaintances when making investments rather than that of a professional.

In order to put Finstreet on the map, we had to first start a dialogue on the need for financial literacy. Since we were newcomers in the field, we had the gargantuan task of building our reputation from scratch. We started by making vital financial information available to the public in a simple and clear manner.

College students were an important classification in our purview since it is at this age when it becomes important to cultivate healthy financial habits. We conducted free workshops in colleges and taught students how to manage their finances and create a comprehensive portfolio. 

Since I already had first-hand experience in the finance sector and had always had a penchant for teaching, the workshops went by smoothly. It was in my third workshop that I was approached by a student at the end who made it a point to thank me personally and told me how informative the session had been. 

The happiness and pride that I felt then was enough reassurance that I was in the right field. Slowly, from word-of-mouth, more people came to know about Finstreet and soon we were being invited to colleges to conduct workshops for students.

IIT Delhi, IIT Bombay, IIT Gandhinagar, IIT Roorkee, IIT Ropar and BITS Pilani are some of the prestigious institutions in which we had the opportunity to hold our sessions. 

4. What do you think are the most important qualities of a successful entrepreneur?

I believe the most important quality in an entrepreneur is perseverance.

Starting something new, without a safety net in place, is difficult. However, what is even more challenging is keeping faith in your idea and holding on to it, even in the face of your darkest adversity.

When you’re starting something new, you are bound to crash into dead-ends, face situations you may think you cannot recover from; these are the moments when your mettle as a businessman is measured.

Therefore, while creativity is an essential attribute in an entrepreneur, it is your tenacity that keeps you in the game. 

5. How can one know if finance is the field for them? Can one take a test for the same?

Finance is nothing but the art of managing money. And I believe it is safe to assume that each one of us, at some point in our lives, will have our own to take care of. Therefore, finance is an essential part of our lives that we cannot do away with.

There is no special test one needs to take in order to know whether this is a field for them. The only test perhaps is asking yourself if you have, or will have in the future, money to manage. If yes, then you need to have a proper understanding of what finance is.

It is only when through a complete knowledge of this subject that you can ensure a secure future, not just for yourself, but also for your loved ones. 

6. Your tips to the younger generation on how to go about understanding the basic financial stuff.

The one very important piece of knowledge that the younger generation, or even my generation, seems to have forgotten is the importance of investments and savings. The lack of proper financial education to students has created a generation that does not even know what personal finance is, let alone understand its importance.

While the present COVID-19 pandemic has done a lot more harm than good, perhaps one of its few positive impacts have been the dialogue it helped start about financial security. The sudden crash of the economies around the world was enough to wake everyone up and start introspecting.

People today of all ages need to understand that finance is not a choice; it is an inherent part of their lives. Acknowledging different avenues of finance like making smart investments, saving for future and building a profitable portfolio amongst other things is what gives one the security of a bright future and that is my advice for the younger generation. 

7. One advice that you feel would have helped you while starting out in this field.

The one advice I would have like to hear before entering the finance sector myself is that it is not hard. Learning about finance is not hard; it is definitely easier than learning calculus because this is one subject that I guarantee you will practice your entire life.

You may get thrown ff by some of the terminology in the beginning or get confused by how some avenues of finance work, but in the end, all of it will come together to give you a brighter, more secure future. 

- Bandhul Bansal, Finstreet 

- Interview by - Chamanth Krishna

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