Case Study

AssetVault's co-founder tells us how a UK presence helped kickstart its early growth.

AssetVault provides bank grade security to third parties such as banks or financial advisers allowing their end customers to securely record key details of their most valuable assets by cataloguing all of the physical and digital assets in a secure private register, protecting them through insurance products and digital wills and unlocking the value of these assets through advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and Blockchain.

We spoke to Vishnu Chundi, AssetVault's Co-founder and CEO, about the company's expansion plans and how the firm's UK presence helped kickstart its early growth.  

What does your company do?

I set up AssetVault to solve a personal bugbear of mine. My uncle had passed away without a Will and Testament and I saw first hand the amount of pain that it took us a family to figure out what all his assets were and where they were.

This problem is pretty universal. Most people work extremely hard in their lives but they don't take a moment to make a list of everything. That was really the driver for AssetVault and, as the name suggests, the intention was for people to consolidate all of their assets in one secure place be this an old watch belonging to their grandmother, membership cards for private clubs, bitcoins, bank accounts or even medical data.

Our product helps customers obtain a bird’s eye view of their total net worth in real time, to protect their assets better using insurance and estate planning tools and to unlock value by allowing loans against their assets or transactions on a marketplace.

Our primary route to market is via partnerships with banks, insurance intermediaries, wealth managers and also as an employee benefit.

Tell us about your UK and global operations.

Our very first office was in Paddington (during Techstars program) and then we moved to Shoreditch in the UK's Silicon Roundabout where we have been ever since. At the moment we are around 10 people including contractors and freelancers.

In India, we recently launched a direct to consumer estate planning product due to increased need from Indian families post COVID.

Being based in the UK was a complete no brainer for us. It helped us take part in a number of competitions which proved crucial in accelerating the growth of our business

What are the main benefits to being based in the UK?

Being based in the UK was a complete no brainer for us. It helped us take part in a number of competitions which proved crucial in accelerating the growth of our business. In 2017 we won the London Business School incubator program which gave us an office at LBS for a year in Baker Street which was awesome.

We went on to win a finalist position at UBS's annual Future of Finance competition which is how we managed to land our very first client. After that we secured a place at Accenture's annual FinTech Innovation Lab in the 2018 cohort. Then, later in 2018, we won a place PwC's Scale Insurtech programme which supports high potential scale-up businesses. All of these programmes helped us jump start our business and meet potential clients and understand their problems first hand.

The UK is also very entrepreneur friendly when it comes to encouraging student entrepreneurs. I made the transition to entrepreneurship as a student in the UK utilising the TechNation Exceptional Talent Visa. That allowed me to complete my MBA from the London Business School and still run a company as a director.

The wonderful thing about the UK is that there are a lot of different bodies promoting trade and investment and entrepreneurship. For example, the Mayor of London's Business Growth programme, Santander scheme for student internships and City of London delegations etc. So if you are a start-up these can give you extra wind behind your sails. You can find amazing mentors in the London Tech community and 9 out of 10 times people have helped out whenever we reached out for help. Easy access to technical talent due to top Universities and a favourable PSW Visa. 

Also, the presence of so many different angels, financial services and consulting professionals in the UK, makes it easy to get Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) and EIS funding. This is further encouraged by the recent Kalifa Review where they are proposing to expand R&D tax credits, Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Venture Capital Trusts (VCT).

Finally, the Financial Conduct Authority regulatory sandbox, which lets businesses road test innovative propositions with real consumers, was incredible. It was a massive opportunity for us to tell the world that we knew how to operate in highly regulated industries and it helped us attract good talent and more angels.

The wonderful thing about the UK is that there are a lot of different bodies promoting trade and investment and entrepreneurship... So if you are a start-up these can give you extra wind behind your sails

Tell us about your company's growth ambitions.

Market need in a post COVID world has increased tremendously. Death has been brought into our collective consciousness in a strong way. With people contemplating what would happen to their loved ones if they were no longer around, we have witnessed a 70% increase in demand for Wills, driven by the millennials especially.

We expanded to India via a subsidiary in Hyderabad. Thanks to the UK/India corridor and the great work done by the City of London and their team, we were able to attract great talent locally in India and offer our products to India's enterprise customers such as banks and insurance companies.

Going forward, we are looking to continue to expand into growth markets like India where there are huge middle classes with growing assets. We will be launching a direct-to-consumer estate planning product in the market to help Indians. For example, 97% of Indian families with businesses have no succession plan in place. There is speculation that the government may reintroduce inheritance tax in order to enhance tax revenues. This will impact a lot more Indians significantly.

In the UK, we would love to distribute our product to charities and healthcare workers at cost to do our part in the fight against COVID. Anything we can do for that audience would be fantastic.

Asset Vault are kindly offering a special Wills offer of 95% discount to our readers.  Use the following discount code on their payments page: CITYOFLONDONFRIENDS

 

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