Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Cube Wealth.
Satyen Kothari: I believe that life is an adventure. My path to starting Cube Wealth has been full of opportunity, kick, and some old fashioned hard work. It all started at Stanford, where I completed my Masters in Human Computer Interaction, CS & Entrepreneurship. I was then in Silicon Valley between 1995 & 2010, which is when I came back to India.
Of course, it’s not like I returned enlightened and became a serial entrepreneur. I was fortunate enough to earn my corporate scars while working at companies like Apple Inc and Frog Design with stints at brands like Intuit, First Data, Cisco, AOL, and Yahoo as well as Plus 3 startups in Silicon Valley taught me a lot – especially everything I didn’t know how to do.
The last company I founded was Citrus Payments. We, as a team of 300 plus, drove the company to a valuation of $100 million in 4 years. Citrus Pay was eventually sold for $130 Mn in 2016 in one of India’s largest fintech deals. Since then, I’ve invested in many companies across the fintech, solar, and education sectors.
The question then was “What’s next?” and Cube Wealth was the answer. In the early days of Cube and exploring the product-market fit, my team and I saw a huge gap. We realized that high-quality wealth advice was only accessible to the ultra-rich. Having grown up in the middle class, this was something I knew we had to solve for. The mission then became to simplify wealth creation for middle-class investors &, more specifically, busy professionals. That is the need out of which Cube Wealth was born, and today we know we’re onto something special not just based on numbers but also the overwhelming feedback we receive from Cubers.
How does Cube Wealth innovate?
Satyen Kothari: At Cube Wealth, innovation is a regular affair, be it small or big.
We were the first in India to offer direct investments into global stocks such as Apple, Netflix, and Starbucks, with a simple and quick process. This, accompanied by advice from an award-winning RIA from the US, is a win-win service for our users.
In continuing our mission to have members build a well-balanced portfolio, we also launched a ‘perfect Portfolio Builder tool last year, which guides you on your personal risk level based on life stage, and then provides recommendations about asset diversification, current investment replacements, and portfolio requirements.
Cube Wealth was the first fintech company in India to launch habit-building investment games. This helped to make investment a fun experience for our users, along with exciting rewards and returns.
We are now building a private blockchain-based rewards system to run a closed-loop transparent smart contract and ethereum based program for our users.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Satyen Kothari: It was during the pandemic when a lot of people understood the importance of savings and investments.
The markets have proven year after year that while such global events have a short-term impact, in the long term, patience always wins. Hence, we suggested our users stay put with their investments during these uncertain times and start to build a perfect portfolio for the future.
According to us, this pandemic is an inflection point for digital wealth management as customers are now getting accustomed to and demanding digital services for everything, from KYC to tracking their investments.
Keeping this in mind, we raised USD 500,000 during the pandemic that included investments from existing investors Singapore-based venture fund Beenext and Japan-based Asuka Holding along with yours truly. This fund is being used to expand our teams as well as market our new cross-border SaaS service called Cube Cloud. This service helps fund managers in India and South East Asia track capital from investors across 50 countries. This, too, was launched during the pandemic.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Satyen Kothari: It’s a good life if you get choices, is my belief. Of course, there were many choices made but no regrets, for instance; Going for a safe well paying job vs. starting up, starting up multiple times. Hard decisions to let go of team members and partners. When you have the privilege of being offered a choice, this should be appreciated. That’s my philosophy.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Satyen Kothari: It sounds cliched to say this, but it is really an ongoing, almost spiritual training that one needs to undergo as a founder. Being intense but letting go, making hard priorities, and hence making a call bot to do some things. I use a few personal frameworks to help me deal with both regular workloads and stressful situations. More than anything else, I just remember in tough times that we are all mortal, and everything we do is really not that significant in the cosmic sense, so why worry beyond a point.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Satyen Kothari: Cube is taking the old world of human-powered wealth management and portfolio creation and bringing it to busy middle-class professionals globally…Others in the space include Groww, IND Wealth, Scripbox, etc., each with their own take on the problem.
Cube focuses on curating quality assets & giving access to top-notch financial advice from experts with proven track records. Not a buffet – a personal, curated multi-course meal that helps you build the perfect investment portfolio.