I grew up in Chembur, Mumbai, and am proud to say that my son is the fourth generation of our family in Mumbai. People are often shocked to discover that our grandparents – my wife and mine – have been here since the 1940s! I feel privileged to have seen the city evolve since the 1980s.

After pursuing my schooling and engineering degree in Mumbai, I had the honour of having front-row seats at Directi, among the first 20 people back in 2006. Working closely with the founders, Bhavin and Divyank, sowed the early seeds of entrepreneurship in my young, impressionable mind.

Since I came from a traditional, academically-oriented, working-professional family background, the pressure to do an MBA was excessively high. So, I gave the GMAT and applied to SP Jain, where I was honoured to see that the panel liked my differentiated work experience and green-lighted my admission. 

Being in SP Jain fabricated an incredible experience because it took me out of my comfort zone. I lived in two new countries-Singapore and UAE-and travelled to Malaysia, all within one year. We lived in a hostel with four people in a room. It taught me how to survive outside the home and highlighted to my young mind that human belongings could fit within the confines of a bed and cupboard, let alone four walls.

It was also the first time I came across a broad spectrum of people from varied backgrounds and thought processes. It exposed me to higher-level ideas about managing companies. 

This fascinating period assisted me in growing considerably in knowledge and understanding of the world. I will always be grateful for the SP Jain experience.

My understanding strengthened upon becoming a young working professional with KPMG in Dubai through campus placements, where I worked from 2008 to 2012. I subsequently moved back to KPMG India and then EY.

The one thing that remained constant through this period was my desire to make an impact. As a consumer of value created by someone else, I wanted to create value that benefits others. In 2015, I took baby steps into the venture-building world by incubating ventures for Innoterra, a Swiss Impact firm in India.

Later, I founded three ventures – CredSaver, Finovate Capital, and BharatNXT. Each of them turned out to curate a rich, incredible journey and continues to weave a learning experience for me every day.  

How COVID-19 Impacted Fintech

COVID-19 has accelerated digitisation across industries and geographies, which has created data footprints like never before. These data breadcrumbs have been around since 2020 and have built enough records for statistical analysis. 

With the need to operate remotely, digital payments saw unprecedented adoption. Ultimately, it has created historical records for financial transactions that may not have existed before COVID-19. 

Governments also pushed legislation that made the compliance processes regarding KYC a lot easier, and APIs from Account Aggregators exploded, that allow us to validate the customer digitally. There has also been an explosion of service providers, who, now via APIs, share their technology that helps us detect fraud at various stages of the customer journey.

All of this, put together, has commoditised data and technology and created an environment ripe for innovation, which has and will continue to manifest in three forms – cheaper financial products, efficient or convenient financial products, and financial inclusion of the underserved.

Advice to young start-up enthusiasts

My advice to the youngsters would be that there is no substitute for being in the thick of things. Secondary knowledge through books, conversations, or even angel investing can get you only so far.

If I ever get a chance to redo things in 2022, I would get an internship with as many start-ups (Seed Stage) while in college to understand how things work. Post-college, I would try to find myself a part of a growth story, understanding scaling before either doing a start-up myself or moving to a large corporation. It would help me learn how to sustain scale. All these experiences teach varied, valuable lessons and ensure that you will always be sought out. 

Additionally, the best part of this journey would be the exposure to the best minds to elevate your existence. It is crucial to know that your full potential starts getting unlocked only when you are uncomfortable. So, put yourself out there, especially when the stakes are lower.

About the Author – Aljo Joseph (GMBA 2006)

Aljo Joseph, a renowned entrepreneur, is the founder of BharatNXT, CredSaver, and Finovate Capital. The young working professional-turned-businessman marked his career with KPMG in Dubai via campus placements. Later, Mr Joseph worked with KPMG India and EY India before advancing into the venture-building world.

When he’s not working, you can find Aljo playing with his son and dog, going for a swim, cycling, or playing golf.

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