• Chinmay Soni

Groww's Journey to Becoming a Unicorn

The online investment platform Groww was founded during the times when consumer experience was on its way to becoming a key element for any product offering. Everything was aimed at providing the consumer more flexibility, may it be food ordering through Zomato or Swiggy, Cab booking through Ola or Uber, or making payments through PayTM or PhonePe. However, the investment services were lacking on this concept. In order to capitalize on the same, Groww was started with an idea to make India more inclusive towards investing, by making investing simple enough even for a novice.

Groww’s Founders – Ishan Bansal, Lalit Keshre, Neeraj Singh and Harsh Jain (Left to Right)

Groww is yet another start-up by ex-Flipkart Employees, and this time, the innovators were Lalit Keshre, Harsh Jain, Neeraj Singh, and Ishan Bansal. The four founders quit their jobs to start Groww in 2016.

Graduated from IIT Bombay, Lalit Keshre, Co-founder and CEO, is the face of Groww. He looks after the product and consumer experience. He has led many projects launching products like Flipkart Quick, Flipkart Marketplace, and Eduflix. Harsh Jain, Co-founder and COO, is an IIT Delhi alumni and was part of the product team of Flipkart. Neeraj Singh, Co-founder and CTO, is the head of product development and customer research. He was an engineering manager at Flipkart and had set up the customer returns and refund system for Flipkart. Ishan Bansal, Co-founder and CFO, is a CFA charter holder and MBA in Finance from XLRI Jamshedpur. He worked in the corporate development domain at Flipkart, and now heads Finance at Groww.

When Groww was founded, it was observed that out of the total 200 million people with investable income in India, only 20 million people actively invested. The majority of the population saved their money and didn’t even consider investing as an option. This was due to the complexity and ambiguity prevalent in the investment industry. Here, the founders of Groww identified the need of making investing simple. They wanted to offer a product that would attract the rest of 180 million towards investing. Building on this, Groww became a platform that provided necessary information and resources along with enhanced user experience to its users for the purpose of investing.

After proper market research and numerous experiments, Groww was launched in 2017 and its services were made available to its users. It initially started as a mutual fund distribution platform and offered only three mutual funds on its website. Along with these three mutual funds, Groww also offered various services like Robo Advisory, risk analysis, and customer profiling, which were later dropped. Groww eventually started focusing only on offering mutual funds and had partnered with 34 mutual funds, offering more than 5000 schemes by June 2018.

As the platform got older, it started gaining more interactions with users. Groww had raised seed funding in January 2018 on the platform Y Combinator, and from the likes of Mukesh Bansal and Ankit Nagori. It had raised $1.6 million combined in seed funding and Pre-Series A funding round, held in June 2018, with major contributors being Insignia Venture Partners, Kairos Fund, and America’s Lightbridge partners. At this point in time, the user base of Groww was looking at 50,000 registered users.

With the growth of the platform, many awards and achievements started coming Groww’s way. It won the following recognized awards :

  • 2017-18: BSE Star MF award for 2nd best performer in RFD category in Karnataka.

  • 2017-18: 3rd place in BSE Star MF Fintech – Highest Transactions 2017-18.

  • 2018-19: 1st place in BSE Star MF Fintech – Highest Transactions 2018-19

The Series A funding round in January 2019 fetched Groww a handsome amount of $6.2 million with major contribution from Sequoia India and participation from Y Combinator, Propel Venture Partners, and Kauffman Fellows. The registered users had then increased to more than 10,00,000 which suggested a user growth of 2000% in a year’s time. The money raised was proposed to be utilized for bringing new product innovations. As a result, Groww introduced UPI payments in May 2019, the first big addition after the funding.

Only within a few months, in September 2019, Groww again raised $21.4 million in Series B funding round from US-based venture capital firm Ribbit Capital. Moreover, previous investors Sequoia India and Y Combinator also contributed to display their trust in the firm’s growth. The registered users by this time had grown to over 25,00,000, 2.5 times what they were in January 2019. The purpose for this fundraising was presented as follows :

“Groww will use these funds to get top talent on board across engineering, product, and growth teams, and is looking to increase the team size to 200 plus soon. The company also aims to use a significant portion of the capital to fortify tech capabilities and build super scalable infrastructure for investing.”

Immediately after raising the funds, Groww made some important improvements in its offerings. It started offering Zero Commission Mutual Funds and enabled perhaps the biggest move forward in their story yet, Stock Trading.

One year later, in September 2020, Groww raised $30 million in Series C funding round, with major contribution from YC Continuity. The existing investors Sequoia India, Ribbit Capital, and Propel Ventures also took part in this round. By this time, the firm was valued at $250 million with more than 80,00,000 registered users. The objective stated for the funding was to facilitate further technical advancements and building new teams, products, and infrastructure. One month later, Groww introduced intraday trading, ETFs, and Gold investments on their platform.

On to the most recent event, in April 2021, Groww raised a mammoth $83 million at a valuation of more than $1 billion, becoming one of the newest entrants to India’s Unicorn Club. The funds were raised in Series D round led by Tiger Global Management. Moreover, existing investors Sequoia India, Ribbit Capital, YC Continuity, and Proper Ventures also participated in this round. The registered users of Groww at this time had already crossed the mark of 1.5 crores.

Looking at the future, Groww has stated that it is working on launching deposits, US stocks, sovereign gold bonds, and derivatives trading in the coming months. Also, the company is also considering launching financial education initiatives for the current generation to expand the overall market for financial services.

The track record for the company till now has been very promising, with exceptional growth pattern and strong backing by the very first investors till now. Groww has in its short 5 years of life achieved great heights and with the vision of its team to make India more inclusive towards investing, it can go on to become one of India’s major players in Financial Services.


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