You are running Asia’s largest crowd-funding platform. When you look back at your journey, how did you visualize growth? Is what you see today different or similar to what you had envisioned?
Zaheer Adenwala: When we started we never envisioned that our growth will be so tremendous. Our goal was very simply to add value to a much fractured ecosystem, which is when non-profits were raising funds from donors in India before 2012 the costs incurred in soliciting contributions, gifts, grants, etc. were very high. Our goal at that time was simple to reduce the cost of fund raising and to add value to this entire ecosystem. We obviously knew that there was a great opportunity in the market for a service like Ketto, what we definitely did not envision that crowdfunding will be adopted with open arms in India and we will be able to grow to the extent that we have grown to the point that not only the non-profits but also a lot of other individuals are raising funds on our platform for varied reasons.
Your thoughts on your collaboration with Amazon India?
Zaheer Adenwala: Ketto is thrilled to partner with Amazon India to help entrepreneurs and small businesses raise funds in a quick, convenient and secure way. Crowdfunding can definitely play a pivotal role in helping entrepreneurs, especially businesses that foster either social impact or practical innovation. We are excited about the Amazon Wings initiative, as it allows us to reach out to a community of verified small businesses with genuine needs towards business expansion and innovation.
Kunal Kapoor: There have been a lot of great ideas that couldn’t raise funding through traditional means, including through venture capitalists who aren’t sure of early-stage ideas. This collaboration with Amazon India will help such start-ups in not only raising money, but also in telling their stories the right way. This will also help them create prototypes to show before they start raising funds on our platform.
Having been in a start-up mode yourselves not so long ago – how do you feel being a solution to finance problems of small businesses?
I firmly believe that being from different backgrounds, the combination has really worked for us (Kunal, Zaheer and I).
Varun Sheth: We feel very proud and we understand that we were a start up at one point of time and we have seen the difficulties and challenges that a startup has to go through when it comes to fund raising and in getting customers. We understand that having a creative idea alone doesn’t help a startup to grow; we would love to support them from inception all the way to scale-up.
We are sure most campaigns will be close to your heart. However, is there any particular one that motivates you for more reasons than one? Or maybe one that keeps you awake?
Zaheer Adenwala: I have two. The first one is the OGQ (Olympic Gold quest) campaigns for the 4 athletes at the Asian Games which helped these athletes to be the stars of our motherland.
OGQ (Olympic Gold quest) is an NGO who has been campaigning with Ketto to raise funds for the aspiring and successful athlete to reach their goals. Aim is to bridge the gap between the best athletes in India with the best athletes of the world helping them win Olympic gold medals. Athletes like KT Irfan (speed walker), Vikas Gawda (discus thrower), Pooja Ghatkar and Ayonika Paul (air rifle shooters) were lucky to have the NGO Olympic Gold Quest supporting them, helping them get the training and equipment they sorely needed to prepare for the competitions.
Second is Hyperloop – Chennai. The IIT students’ team is fundraising to develop India's first ever self-propelled completely autonomous hyperloop pod, thus making history as the first Indian team to win the international competition. The aim is to place our nation at the forefront of developing innovative technologies in the field of high-speed transportation. Great news is they are part of the only Asian team shortlisted for Space X's Hyperloop competition.
These both because the impact of each for India as a country is Huge!
All the three of you who have started Ketto come from diverse backgrounds/professions – how did you sort out difference in opinions? (a mantra for others maybe)
Varun Sheth: I think having a diverse background team is a good thing as because it gives us the chance to experience different things and different opinions. If all three of us were of a similar background then this we would have more or less same opinion which is not a good thing. This would mean that our point of view would be similar and there would be no discussions and debate. I think as long as people are from different backgrounds and are logical in nature, difference of opinions can override with data. I firmly believe that being from different backgrounds, the combination has really worked for us.