Imagine being a college student with a head full of dreams and pockets full of “nada” (nothing in your pocket). College years are probably the best years of your life and are also the years during which you are not entirely financially independent. What if a student is in a financial crunch but wants to register for an online course, register for an exam, go to the movies or do anything else? What can a student do other than call his or her parents, relatives, or friends for some money? For a student with no credit score, it is difficult to approach banks or traditional lenders to solve one's financial struggles as they generally lend only to salaried individuals.
Trust and ease play critical roles when money changes hands. With the advent of sketchy lenders and malicious websites, it has become very risky for a student to find loans. So a convenient app that offers micro loans and can help you keep track of your lending seems like a safer bet. “Pocketly is a micro lending app for college students that provides them with credit whenever they need it instantly” says Aarav, the co-founder of Pocketly.
The total number of microfinance loan accounts stood at Rs. 92.70 million in April-June quarter of the fiscal year 2019-20, as compared to Rs. 66.80 million accounts in April-June quarter of the fiscal year 2018-19, as disclosed by MFIN, an RBI recognized self-regulatory organization. This drastic increase makes it evident that the market grew by 42.9 percent in the first quarter of 2019-20 over the corresponding period last year.
The market for student micro-lending is lesser compared to the one for blue collar workers. But recently, with the change in lifestyle, this market is opening doors for tremendous growth. And with 750 universities and more than 35,000 affiliated colleges enrolling more than 35 million students, India offers an enormous opportunity to platforms like Pocketly for targeting students.
Aarav and Navdeesh both started their journey as roommates at VIT University. During their second year, they realized that their fellow tech-savvy millennial students did not have a penchant for the old way of communication. They soon decided to come up with an app, VITgo, that could keep their peers updated on the college timetables and notices and would help them navigate their day easily. In just two days of launching the app, they had around 10,000 plus users and in about a month they had reached the 30,000 daily active visitors mark.
Aarav and Navdeesh stumbled upon another problem in their college years. They realized that just like salaried professionals, college students also faced the month-end financial crunch. And Aarav and Navdeesh founded Pocketly with a simple business model. They wish to lend a helping hand to college students who need urgent cash. Their app allows a user to create a profile, be authenticated, and loan money in just a few taps. Pocketly provides small ticket size loans ranging from Rs. 500-10,000 for a tenure of 30 days.
“It’s basically a virtual credit card that is with them for their needs during the month-end” says Aarav.
Their history with the successful development of an app, inclination towards and experience in the fintech sector, and problem-solving attitude turned out to be their most significant advantages. They launched the app on 23rd Oct 2019, and within just two days, they had over 1000 downloads. They were only 20 days old when they approached 100X.VC but their success story and zest was enough to convince us to take the risk.
Just like the rest of the lending sector, Pocketly was impacted by COVID-19, but due to their small ticket size and their strong community, the impact was marginal.
Within less than a year of operations, Pocketly is affiliated with 1500 colleges across India. They have over 6000 active users and have sanctioned over 16000 loans amounting to over Rs. 10 million. They are now looking at their next phase of rapid growth.
Published on: August 21, 2020