This is a guest post by Mukund Mohan, on an event in Bangalore that involved technology and finance. Mukund is the Director of Microsoft Ventures, which runs a fund, an accelerator and startup engagement programs globally. You can follow his blog on startups at Best Engaging Communities.
On Sunday I had a chance to judge the #hackafin hackathon at the NASSCOM 10K startup warehouse. While many other industries are going through immense disruption globally, (Books – Kindle, Cabs – Uber, Hospitality – AirBnB) the innovation in Finance is largely at the fringes (Second Market, Angel List and smaller companies).
The Yodlee team provided a set of API’s and training for the 100+ entrepreneurs and hackers that attended the 2 day event. There were 16 teams that participated at the hackaton. My experience has taught me that hackathons that focus on a specific vertical tend to get far fewer attendees (example the travel hackathon tHack organized by Tnooz) but the level of sophistication of the apps themselves is very high.
Overall the conversion of hackathon participation to entrepreneurial ventures is fairly low (2-4%) and in India it is much lower (0.5 -1%). Which means of the total of 60+ hackathons held in India in 2013, only 7 hackathons had startups created after the event. On average a total of 23 teams participated, so about 1400 hacks and ideas were generated. Of these 1400 hacks, only 11 ended up becoming startups, which resulted in a conversion of 0.7%. The positive news is that hackers are participating in droves, with the average attendance reaching 85 developers per hackathon.
There were some very interesting ideas that the hackers presented at #hackafin. Here the top 5 that caught my eye, in no particular order.
- El Pancho (FinUp). Imagine you are a startup and an investor is “interested”. The investor wants to get some initial due diligence before they decide to offer you a term sheet. One of the due diligence items is to check your finances. This online service actually automates the generation of your income and expenses based on your bank statement and gives them a pre-release (not pro forma) version of your finances. It should help speed the process of your due diligence with your investor.
- Thirukkural: This app provides a simple voice to text interface to your finances. Instead of logging into your credit card website to get your card limit, or log into your bank account to get your bank balance, or log into your DEMAT account to get your asset allocation, you can just ask it simple English questions by speaking to it. For example: say how much did I spend last month and it collects information from all your credit cards and debit cards and gives you one simple answer. Pretty neat. They were a crowd favorite and the winner of the hackathon as well.
- iCredit: Getting credit in India is hard. Managing a credit score is limited to a handful of providers. This site helps you build your credit history by looking a more granular level at your transactions (company not individual) and building your credit worthiness as a company. This tool could be used by credit assessors or loan processors to determine credit worthiness or risk.
- DI: With this app, you choose the type and issuer of your credit card. You don’t have to enter your credit card information. Based on the location and your cards, it will tell you what the local deals are available for your card. If you select from a list of merchants based location, it will also tell you the card to pay with so it gives you the best points / offers etc.
- Bullfinch: This is an offer app. You download this app to your phone. It looks at incoming SMS and other spending data from Yodlee to provide proactive offers for you. E.g. if you have spent INR 700 at Pizza hut in Benson Town one week and the next week you spend INR 800 at Pizza Corner, then you might get a coupon from Dominos for Pizza the following week.
While I think most of these won’t be actual companies, many will end up being just good ideas that are part of a product, the fact that we have so many creative folks thinking of disrupting the existing way of doing business is excellent.