By Mohit Saini:
Contree is the name of our startup which is an app-based solution to manage, settle and pay expenses within the group. I had brainstormed the idea with my cousin who is an IITian and we decided to work on this concept as it was a genuine problem faced by college goers who would have to chase their respective friend circles to get back their money which they may have paid for a group expense, be it a movie, trip or a night out. Moreover, not everyone has cash in hand when they need it, which leads to small loans between friends leading to either people forgetting or constant followups. Other times people don’t have exact change which leads to the same problem. These instances happen so often, and since not everyone has access to internet banking, this makes the process even more cumbersome.
All excited and passionate, as we were about to enter the mystic world of entrepreneurship, we started building our app with the focus on providing the best of technology and product experience which would be simple yet elegant. But, as things started moving, we had to overcome some major setbacks in terms of the legal framework which we had to comply in order to function as a wallet entity. The fact that India is ranked very low on the index of ‘ease of starting business’, we knew that we had to tackle many challenges which were outside the scope of product development. We had a bad time completing the legalities of launching an e-wallet for which RBI has stringent policies and it is impossible for any other startup to fulfill their conditions. When we pitched it to the other wallet providers, they simply rejected our idea and said that this concept would not work in India. And as a turn of fortunes, we had never expected that these guys would be in the last phase of launching a similar app on group payments. They simply had the necessary wallet license and paid up capital percentage (specified by RBI). All they had to do was put their tech team to work and voila! What we saw was the same idea being replicated on their platform (but with an average interface though).
The Startup India initiative launched by the government is a significant step but, to put words and plans into action is a task which would not be a cakewalk. Unless the government significantly make steps in easing the norms and works towards implementing the ‘Startup Plan of Action’, it would be difficult to scale up with the likes of Silicon Valley and other such startup hubs in different parts of the world. The action plan is largely optimistic since it shows a very positive intent by the government. However, going forward, it is critical that the government sets up a team of founders, investors, angels, lawyers and accountants who can ensure that the final policies surrounding startups are as flawless as possible and maintain the right balance between accountability, transparency and doing business. It is undeniable that India’s start-ups need to be saluted, encouraged and fostered. The government deserves to be lauded for recognizing this. But, there are a few unexplained points under the plan, for example, the government seems to have given only one, narrow definition for start-ups. This needs to be changed because it excludes many innovative businesses. Also, start-ups have been exempt from paying taxes for the first three years. But considering most start-ups don’t make money so early, such an exemption would have little impact.
Talking of our startup, we have made significant advancements in our product offering and we have partnered with a semi-wallet entity to offer our solution for Android users. With Contree, people can transfer instantly the collected money to bank account using bank transfer feature with registration taking only less than 10 seconds. The main USP of product is that it offers Free Bank Transfer to it’s users unlike the wallets in the market. Contree’s business idea has been appreciated and applauded in various events and was selected by IIT Roorkee under its Incubator “TIDES” for business support and development. But nonetheless, with all our enthusiasm and vision to create a dent in the universe, we are challenging the startup ecosystem. What drives us?“Where there is a will, there is a way!”