IIMB warmly welcomes Kunal Kapoor and Varun Sheth, co-founders of Ketto, India’s largest online crowd-funding platform for fund-raising. We join them as they narrate their journey in giving shape to this relatively new concept that has the potential to disrupt the way we contribute monetarily to causes we care about.
Q: A lot of celebrities are investing in various startups. What made you invest in Ketto and use the internet to help raise funds for social causes?
Kunal: There are a lot of companies you come across the internet today that are making a positive impact. Making revenue is a part of the business, but if a company can change the world around it while doing so, it would be really special. So that was the idea that was in my head. I was associated with a few NGOs at that time, I could see the challenges that they were grappling with and I wanted to help. It was then that I met Varun, who was working on a similar idea. With that, Ketto was born. The name actually stands for Key to Tomorrow, and we really believe it will live up to its potential.
Q: How does one ensure that when the authenticity of campaigns they are donating to online?
Kunal: Only when you reach out to your friends and family and raise a considerable amount of money from them does the campaign get featured on our site. And I believe the sheer effort of raising money from your close network would ensure that your cause is really worth contributing to.
Varun: Adding on to that, other than being self-regulatory, there is a verification check that we do by collecting documentation before starting a campaign. So there are two checkpoints, your network and the documentation, which ensures that what everything on our site is absolutely genuine.
Q: What is one achievement of Ketto that is really close to your hearts?
Varun: This was during the early days, 6-7 months into the startup, when we launched an initiative to help Shweta Katti, a sex worker’s daughter. She dreamed of travelling abroad and getting an education. Ketto helped her raise Rs. 6.5 lakhs, eventually helping her to pursue her dream. Many other organizations chipped in to help her with her travel and accommodation. We’re really proud of where she is today and hope she gets to be the next Malala some day!
Q: Varun, thanks for taking out the time. Do tell us about yourself and how the interesting idea of Ketto came to your mind?
Varun: My background is in finance as I’d studied for a bachelor’s degree in commerce. After graduating, I applied to about 20-25 companies and I was rejected in all of them. Then I thought of what I needed to do to get a good job. So, I started doing the CFA and FRM degrees. But, six months into working in the financial services industry, I realised this was simply not for me. I was drawn to the idea of being my own boss and that’s where the inspiration for becoming an entrepreneur struck me.
As the internet became a more important platform, I thought of marrying it with using ideas from finance unconventionally.
The world is defined by inequalities- where nearly 99% of the people who need money are running behind the 1% who actually have it. The internet is a powerful platform that connects millions of people around the world on so many issues- be it buying groceries, socializing or even finding soulmates! We leveraged the internet growth story to create a level playing field for anybody who is looking to raise funds.
Q: What are the measures of success would tell you that Ketto has moved to the next level?
Varun: The first thing you need to think about in entrepreneurship is to see whether it will remain sustainable in the long term.
I never started this venture thinking about whether it needs to be social impact based. But the avenues for us increased substantially, as we kept working on creating a sustainable revenue model.
There are two ways in which we measure success. Quantitatively, we look at how we’re funded, because that determines how we will scale. Qualitatively, we look at the number of lives we change positively and how much of an impact we’re having on our end-users.
Ketto is a platform where social change begins, where you raise awareness campaigns and funds, where you get to do your part in making things with the world right again.