The participation of insurers from rural areas is abysmally low in our country. And life insurers, especially private companies, have always been focussed more towards the urban population. For a long time now, the sector has not found many takers from rural areas due to several reasons such as low literacy rates, low incomes, etc. 

According to IRDAI, the insurance tech is a business that is yet to penetrate more than five percent of India’s population in the life segment, and in the non-life segment it is only 15 percent of the total viable market of $100 billion.

Spotting a gap in the segment, Abhishek Tiwari founded iAssure in 2015. The Jaipur-based startup aims to increase insurance penetration in semi-urban and rural areas, and is providing a platform for people to buy all general insurance products with point of sales persons (POSPs). 

“While working in Tier-II and III markets, we realised there was a huge gap in distribution as far as insurance is concerned. For example, Rajasthan has 33 districts and 300 plus tehsils. The presence of private insurers is not more than ten districts, whereas public players have their presence in all 33 districts and another 30 tehsils. It implies that rest of the market is served by individual or corporate agents who have their own limitations when it comes to offer choice of product and servicing,” says Abhishek. 

“We decided to solve this problem of distribution by digitising the insurance services, create mass level networks, create employment, and serve the unserved and underserved consumers in semi urban and rural markets of Bharat,” he adds. 

According to the company, it is helping individuals sign up with the right insurance plans at affordable price. At present, the startup is providing services in the northern regions of the country, and is currently present in ten states.

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The journey

A law and CA graduate, Abhishek worked with the ICICI Bank for a decade. He also served as the CEO at Au Insurance broking, and it was here the idea of iAssure was born. 

Abhishek says his mission statement is simple – he wants iAssure to insure 5,600 tehsils of India and become a one-stop solution for all financial protection needs of the customers in the next five years. 

“iAssure aims to solve the problem of lack of awareness, trust, digitisation, and distribution in semi urban and rural markets, which is home to eighty percent of the Indian population. iAssure also aims to bridge the deficit of trust by getting the transaction executed through a hyper local trusted resource who talks to the customer in his own language. It’s a sociable, sustainable, and scalable business model,” says Abhishek. 

“When I started out, there were difficulties. Like any startup, there was lack of trust initially among customers. Building a team, creating a model, and establishing a PoC with the technology platform was difficult. Three years down the line, we realised it’s a natural path, which any business or entrepreneur has to travel,” says Abhishek.

iasureThe product

The startup appoints point of sales people (POSP) who travel to towns and use digital means to show different products and pricing to customers that suits their needs. They assist individuals in choosing the right product and also help people with digital payments. 

“We recruit people with basic qualifications from remote areas, provide training to these individuals, and enable them to sell insurance in semi urban and rural markets. These people enjoy the trust of local customers as they belong to the same place, thus helping in the creation of employment/self-employment in these markets as well,” says Abhishek. 

IAssure’s point of sales person can use the phone to access products from multiple insurers, and compare and advise people about the best insurance plan to suit their needs. Since all this happens on a digital platform, it is easy for them to explain the product to the customers. They can also cross sell/upsell to same customer along with a motor insurance and the POSPs can also pitch a health insurance.

The company claims to be having 5,500 POSP counters in the last three years and has issued close to half a million policies.

The insurance market in India

In FY-16, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) introduced and came up with guidelines for Point of Sale Persons, which was aimed at increasing penetration of insurance products by spreading distribution. Under these guidelines, intermediaries were allowed to appoint point of sales people under them who could sell pre underwritten products.

iAssure

Iassure founder Abhishek

Speaking about the current scenario, Abhishek says: “In the life insurance space, about 65 percent market is dominated by individual agents, 25 percent by corporate agents, five percent by insurance companies directly, and the rest is distributed among others. Only five percent sell online. So 95 percent of the market in life insurance is B2B and only five percent is B2C.”

According to the startup, in the non-life insurance segment ,about 30 percent is contributed by individual agents, 12 percent by corporate agents, 28 percent is direct, and 22 percent by brokers. Therefore 80 percent market is B2B and 20 percent B2C.

With the advent of technology and the release of POSP guidelines by IRDAI, the model is now evolving to assisted sales, where there will be physical touch points (individual advisors) with digital enablement. That’s where iAssure’s sweet spot is. 

The business and plans ahead

The bootstrapped startup, which is funded by family and friends, has made a total investment of close to Rs 12 crore in the company till date. 

The startup follows a revenue sharing model. iAssure shares 75 percent of the revenue with the POSP who sources the business and retains a margin of 25 percent on each transaction. 

Till date, the startup, which competes insurtech startups like Acko, Policy Bazaar, and Artivatic, claims to have served half a million customers. The startup clocked a revenue of Rs 9 crore in FY-20, and is eyeing Rs 15 crore in revenue by FY-21. However, the company is yet to become profitable. 

“Q-1 has been encouraging so far owing to the all-time high risk recognition among customers due to the COVID-19 outbreak. There has been a positive shift in the product mix and we have booked more business in health and life insurance vertical as compared to motor insurance,” says Abhishek. 

In the next 18 months, the startup wants to cover 1,400 tehsils in 10 states in its current area of operation and penetrate vertically. So far, it has covered 500 tehsils in North India. 

The government and IRDAI are also relentlessly working on reforms to improve the situation. Recently, the government increased FDI to 100 percent in the insurance intermediation business, and this alone means that iAssure can scale up in the future. 

Edited by Megha Reddy

Original Source: yourstory.com

Future Group founder Kishore Biyani on Wednesday said the homegrown retail major lost nearly Rs 7,000 crore revenue in first three-four months of the COVID-19 pandemic due to closing of stores, which led him to sell his business to Reliance Industries.

In August this year, billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries announced acquisition of retail and wholesale business and the logistics and warehousing business from the Future Group as going concerns on a slump sale basis for Rs 24,713 crore.

"We got into a trap to be very honest with COVID-19. In the first 3-4 months, we lost nearly Rs 7,000 crore of revenue, Biyani said at the Phygital Retail Convention.

There was no way the company could have survived losing such an amount, he said, adding the problem is rent doesn't stop, interest (on debt) doesn't stop .

"We did too many acquisitions in the last six-seven years… I thought there was no other answer but to exit," he stated.

He said for retailers the worst is yet to come.

"We have designed business to be profitable at 90 percent of our targets. In any scenario… we will not be able to touch 70-80 percent (of target)… If you look at long-term planning 5 to 10 years — it will not be easy for physical stores," he said.

Through the deal made in August with Reliance Industries, the Ambani led firm will acquire Future Retail, which owns BigBazaar that sells everything from groceries to cosmetics and apparel, and Future Lifestyle Fashions Ltd that operates fashion discount chain Brand Factory.

reliance industries mukesh ambani

Image: Flickr

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While Reliance will take over Future Consumer, which sells food, home, and personal care products, Future Group's financial and insurance business is not part of the deal.

Future Retail operated 1,550 stores. Its flagship brands BigBazaar, FBB and Foodhall, Easyday, Heritage Fresh and WHSmith. Future Lifestyle Fashion operates 354 stores.

Investment from Reliance would help Future's founder Biyani pare debt.

Last week, US online retailer Amazon slapped a legal notice on Future Group, alleging that the retailer's Rs 24,713 crore asset sale to Reliance Industries violated an agreement with the ecommerce giant.

"We have initiated steps to enforce our contractual rights," a spokesperson for the Seattle-based ecommerce giant said. "As the matter is sub-judice, we can't provide details."

Amazon last year bought a 49 percent stake in one of Future's unlisted firms, Future Coupons Ltd, with the right to buy into flagship Future Retail after a period between 3 and 10 years. Future Coupons owns a 7.3 percent stake in Future Retail.

In August this year, Future reached an agreement to sell its retail, wholesale, logistics and warehousing units to Reliance.

The deal is awaiting regulatory approvals.

Edited by Megha Reddy

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Original Source: yourstory.com

One of the most exciting parts of becoming an adult is moving out of your old place and starting your own life. However, as is the case with most major life events, moving out comes with a lot of added responsibility. Part of this duty is knowing and understanding your budget when shopping for the perfect apartment, condo, duplex, or rental house. So how much should you really spend on rent?

The 30 Percent Threshold

The first step in deciding how much you should spend on rent is calculating how much rent you can afford. This is done by finding your fixed income-to-rent ratio. Simply put, this is the percentage of your income that is budgeted towards rent.

As a general rule of thumb, allocating 30 percent of your net income towards rent is a good place to start. Government studies consider people who spend more than 30 percent on living expenses to be “cost-burdened,” and those who spend 50 percent or more to be “severely cost-burdened.”

When calculating your income-to-rent ratio, keep in mind that you should be using your total household income. If you live with a roommate or partner, be sure to factor in their income as well to ensure you’re finding a rent range that’s appropriate for your income level.

If you’re still unsure as to how much rent you can afford, consider an affordability calculator. Remember to consult a financial advisor before entering into a lease if you’re unsure if you’ll be able to make rent.

Consider the 50/30/20 Rule

Consider the 50:30:20 Rule

After you’ve set a fixed income-to-rent ratio, consider the 50/20/30 rule to round out your budget. This rule suggests that 50 percent of your income goes to essentials, 20 percent goes to savings, and the remaining 30 percent goes to non-essential, personal expenses. In this case, rent falls under “essentials.” Also included in this category are any expenses that are absolutely necessary, such as utilities, food, and transportation.

Let’s consider a hypothetical situation in which you make $4,000 per month. Under the 50/20/30 rule with a fixed income-to-rent ratio of 30 percent, you have $2,000 (50 percent) per month to spend on essential living expenses. $1,200 (30 percent) goes to rent, leaving you with $800 per month for other necessary expenses such as utilities and food.

Remember to Budget for Additional Expenses

Now that you’ve budgeted for rent and essential utilities, it’s time to make a plan for how you’re going to furnish your apartment. One of the biggest shocks of moving out on your own is how expensive filling a home can be. From kitchen utensils to lightbulbs and everything in between, it can be pricey to make your space perfect.

For the most part, furniture falls under the 30 percent of personal, non-essential expenses. Consider planning ahead before a move and saving for home goods so that you don’t go into major debt when it comes time to move out.

Be on the Lookout for Savings

If your budget is slightly out of reach for your dream apartment, try to nix unnecessary costs to see if you can make it work. Look for ways to cut down on utilities, insurance, groceries, and rent.

Utilities: Water, heat, and electricity are all necessities, but your TV service isn’t. Cut the cord on TV and mobile services that may not serve you and your budget anymore. Consider swapping out your light bulbs for eco-friendly and energy-efficient light bulbs to cut down your electric bill.

Insurance: Instead of paying monthly renters insurance rates, save a fraction of the cost by paying your yearly cost in full. If you have a roommate, ask to share a policy together at a premium rate.

Groceries: Swap your nights out for a homemade meal. You can save up to $832 a year with this simple habit change. When grocery shopping, add up costs as you shop to ensure your budget stays on track.

Rent: One of the best ways to save on rent is to split the bill. Consider getting roommates to save 50 percent or more on your monthly rent.

A lease is not something to be entered into lightly. Biting off more rent than you can chew can lead to unpaid rent, which can damage your credit score and make it harder to find an apartment or buy a home in the future. By implementing these best practices, you’ll hopefully find a balance between finding a place you love and still having room in your budget for a little bit of fun.

Sources: US Census Bureau

The post How Much Should You Spend on Rent? appeared first on MintLife Blog.

Original Source: blog.mint.com

Fintech platform MobiKwik on Tuesday said it has promoted Chandan Joshi as the co-founder and CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of the company's payments business.

Joshi has been part of the MobiKwik leadership team for the last 2.5 years as senior vice president, payments, a statement said.

"This is the first time the company has bestowed the co-founder title on anyone outside the original founding team. The company has kickstarted its IPO 2022 campaign with this major appointment," it added.

Previously, Joshi had founded Paketts, a last-mile logistics service company, and exited the business after Paketts was acquired by Nuvo Logistics (Peppertap) in 2017. Prior to being an entrepreneur, Chandan was a financial trader in global financial markets with Credit Suisse in London and Hong Kong.

MobiKwik co-founder and CEO, Bipin Preet Singh, said:

"Chandan has demonstrated all the right traits that we look for in a business leader – he leads from the front, is invested in his teams, is tenacious in driving business results and in closing large strategic deals. He has been a strong growth driver for MobiKwik and we want him to partner with us as a co-founder in the overall build-out of the company."

In its recently published financial year 2020 annual report, the company had reported net revenue growth of 133 percent year-on-year to Rs 379 crore, and cash EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization) loss reduction of 91 percent y-o-y to Rs 8.5 crore.

"My journey with MobiKwik so far has been very fulfilling – I joined in the aftermath of demonetisation and my first assignment was organising the retail payments business, then to run ecommerce payments and finally to grow all of the Payments business…I am confident that together we will be able to profitably grow MobiKwik and take the company public," Joshi said.

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As CEO of the Payments business, Joshi will take on complete ownership of the company's flagship Payments Business which drives 75 percent of the revenues. While he was already driving the business (Sales, Marketing, Product, Engineering) in his existing role, all functions in the payments business unit will now report into him, the statement said.

MobiKwik has two business verticals – payments and fintech (includes credit and insurance).

Bipin Preet Singh is the CEO of the overall business.

Edited by Megha Reddy

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Original Source: yourstory.com

MakeMyTrip Founder Deep Kalra

MakeMyTrip Founder Deep Kalra

Battered by the coronavirus pandemic that crashed its revenues to zero, India’s largest online travel booking company MakeMyTrip was forced to let go of 350 people, which is nearly 10 percent of its staff, in June.

Initially, around March-end when the country entered into the first phase of the lockdown, the company had hoped it would not have to fire any of its employees, having affected pay cuts across the board.

“But then, two months into the pandemic we realised this is going to take longer and we had to take a very tough decision. I think it's fair to say the toughest decision we have ever taken, which was a large scale retrenchment — almost 10 percent of our staff, which was 350 people — we had to ask to go,” MakeMyTrip Founder Deep Kalra said during a recent chat with YourStory Founder and CEO Shradha Sharma. The company has around 3,200 employees on its rolls.

The layoffs were from businesses which the company thought would not come back in a long time or at least would not be done the same way. These were primarily the retail businesses, which the Nasdaq-listed Gurugram company is in the process of converting into franchises and hopes people will still have gainful employment in these functions when the stores come back in their new avatars.

“But I don’t think we want those (jobs) on our rolls, we were anyway talking about restructuring this (retail business). But it was a tough time. I know for Rajesh (Magow, MakeMyTrip Co-founder and CEO) and myself, we had many sleepless nights. As did our HR, as did every leader, actually. It’s very hard." 

“I think for us, the way we are wired — we are Indian, we don’t have that hire-fire mentality — at least, we certainly don’t. Asking one person to go for (a) reason (that’s) not his or her fault is hard and when you do it mass-scale, it’s very hard,” Deep said.

In March, the World Travel and Tourism Council had warned that 50 million jobs in the travel and tourism industry could be lost worldwide due to the coronavirus pandemic. It projected Asia as being the worst affected with the possibility of 30 million job losses in the continent.

deep-kalra-founder-and-ceo-makemytrip

Deep Kalra started MakeMyTrip at the age of 30 in 2000

The 50-year-old founder of one of India’s early internet successes who went on to become a poster boy for the Indian startup ecosystem and the online travel industry, said, the company wanted to ensure the separation process, albeit painful, was made as easy as possible.

“It’s the right thing to do. So we did extend the benefits and perks, whether it was medical insurance till a whole year, we did let them keep the laptops [sic]. For people who had done long service, we did even more, like linked to how long they had served us." 

“And then, even on a personal front, both Rajesh and I wanted to help anyone who had done a long time with us, more than 10 years, which we did. But it’s the worst thing to do and hopefully we never ever have to do that again,” he said.

At the peak of the pandemic, as travelling came to a standstill, MakeMyTrip’s revenues plummeted from $500 million a month revenue run rate to zero. “We did $6 billion gross booking (in) the last year, the last fiscal that we reported and we were suddenly down to zero,” Deep said.

He reflected on the irony that 20 years after the travel company was launched on April 1, 2000, it found itself in a position where on its anniversary there was virtually no travel happening, with everyone locked down inside their homes.

“We had our earnings call for the worst hit quarter, which is April, May and June, which is the first quarter of our fiscal and it’s open knowledge, since we are a public company, we were 95-96 percent down on revenues. So I was half jokingly saying, this should be called a lack of earnings call not an earnings call,” Deep said.

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After assessing the initial damage to the business, the MakeMyTrip management got down to figuring out the things they could control to salvage the situation. “We are in travel, not really diversified. So it’s been great for us for so long. We can sit and mope or fret and get into a panic, but neither of those are going to solve our problems,” Deep said.

The management figured the “only thing” it could do was act on two fronts — cutting costs and keeping employees’ motivation levels up, which became even more critical in the backdrop of the job cuts.

Deep elaborated: “How could we be completely maniacal about cutting down on cost wherever possible? So variable costs were (a) little easier, most of them were related to marketing and sales promotion. Semi-fixed cost, which was outsourced partners for post-sales service, call centres was a little harder, but again we gave notices, we negotiated, and we cut back. And the toughest of all, of course, was when it came down to people-cost.” 

According to the company, it tried to do everything possible to avoid the layoffs, especially through the deep pay cuts at the top, but eventually had to take the tough call of letting people go after an extended phase of little or no business.

 

“So, we took cuts, personal cuts in salaries at all levels, literally starting with managerial level at 10 percent, going all the way up to the top where Rajesh and I are still basically going 100 percent cut [sic] because it was not only symbolic but it was the right thing to do. "

“Our entire leadership team, I think it was creditable (that) they took a 50 percent cut and they continue to do so. And even though travel is coming back and now we have started restoring, it’s been (a) good four-five months of being like that,” Deep said.

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MakeMyTrip started restoring salaries of employees till the senior manager level by July end, once the business started to come back. “Some of our lines of business have definitely started like domestic flights, I think we are back now at 15-20 percent capacity, which is a start,” Deep said. For hotel bookings, demand is at 10-12 percent of the capacity, as is the demand for bus and other inter-city travel modes, he added.

(Edited by Megha Reddy)

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Original Source: yourstory.com