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84. Building for the Future: A Conversation with Paritosh

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Podcast with Paritosh Part 1

Summary: In this insightful podcastepisode, Andrew Liew hosts Paritosh, the co-founder and CTO of Liquid, a
fintech startup aiming to empower middle-class Indians with smarter wealth
generation. Paritosh shares his entrepreneurial journey, which started from his
school days of selling nameplates, leading to various business attempts, tech
consulting roles, and ultimately co-founding Liquid. He delves into the
challenges and learnings he gathered while working on startups and digital
transformations. The podcast explores Liquid's genesis, its mission to address
the lack of accessible and inflation-beating investment options for the Indian
middle class, and its innovative approach to personal finance.

In this engaging podcast, Andrew Liewinterviews Paritosh, co-founder and CTO of Liquid, a fintech startup. Paritosh
recounts his entrepreneurial journey, beginning with his school days when he
sold nameplates, and highlights the lessons learned from previous ventures. He
elaborates on his tech consulting experience and the critical role of trust in
B2B sales. Paritosh discusses how Liquid emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic's
second wave, as the team realized the need for accessible and inflation-beating
investment options for middle-class Indians. Liquid aims to create wealth and
foster financial security by offering personalized financial advice, investment
baskets, and more. The podcast offers insights into successful digital
transformation, focusing on the importance of a clear purpose and a strategic

[00:00:00] Andrew Liew: hi everyone. Thanks for coming tothe podcast show, AI of Mankind. Today, I am very proud and honored to have a
wonderful guest with us, Paridosh. Which is the co founder and the chief
technological officer of Liquid and let me tell a bit more about him So he's a
builder having built a few digital businesses across India and Southeast Asia
in the past 18 years You know currently he's trying to solve for wealth
generation across the middle class Indians with his Khakis and his co founder
buddies and of course his talents, you know called Liquid He has worked mostly
with startups in the past decade of the last 10 years.

[00:00:39] Andrew Liew: He likes to work on large scaleproblems concerning fundamental issues in life like education, health,
entertainment, and personal finance. Liquid is his third venture, previous ones
being Flygrids, an education tech startup that serves K5 to K10 for mathematics
and there's the other [00:01:00] one is calledThe Gradiator, which is the digital transformation studio.

[00:01:03] Andrew Liew: Apart from his own startups, hehas built some of the largest digital platforms in Asia for his clients during
his stay with McKinsey as a digital consultant. Haridoshi is a technologist at
heart with a business oriented mindset. He likes to operate at the cusp of
large scale products. And real life problems.

[00:01:24] Andrew Liew: Yeah. He also holds a master's insoftware engineering from BITS Pilani, in addition to his bachelor degrees in
statistics from the university of Delhi. He has also worked in various company
apart from his startup, which is McKinsey, Samsung, and WePro. Of course, later
on, you can see his social media LinkedIn handle after this podcast.

[00:01:45] Andrew Liew: So let's welcome Paritosh.

[00:01:47] Paritosh: Thanks, Andrew. Glad to be here,man.

[00:01:49] Andrew Liew: Yes. So please tell us yourstory. Not just I telling, introducing your story, but please share with the
audience about from the days[00:02:00] finishedschool to the days where you discovered doing a startup and then KNZ days and
eventually land up to your third venture.

[00:02:08] Andrew Liew: Let's

[00:02:08] Paritosh: go ahead. Yeah, sure. So see threeventures. Those are the ones that I like to talk about, but there are a few
more before that starting from school. I, tried to run I don't know if you
remember, but he used to have those name plates in schools, right? I used to
buy them cheap and sell them in the school for a very high profit.

[00:02:30] Paritosh: But then my parents caught me. , howcome I had so

[00:02:33] Andrew Liew: much cash? All cuts, or B, a cutsthose kind

[00:02:36] Paritosh: of no, they were name plates whichyou can stick. They were stickers, which you can stick on your books and copies
and and you can write your names and they were various characters on that.

[00:02:48] Paritosh: So I, I found a guy in my, I'm from,I come from a very small town in the Hindi heartland of India. So there I found
a guy who used to sell it to me very cheap. And then I used to go to school and
[00:03:00] sell it to my friends. And I got alot of cash. And my mom said, where did you get this? And so I stopped that
from that.

[00:03:06] Paritosh: I did a couple more and I see everystartup, which I did every venture which I did, I learned a lot. I think this
is my fifth attempt at building a business. The first one was in college,
wherein I got together with a few friends and tried selling customized t
shirts. We made a lot of losses as we tried to get stuff for cheap and try to
keep the prices low.

[00:03:33] Paritosh: Thinking that college students won'tbe able to pay much, but we learned very hard in a very hard way that users pay
for value and not cheap products, right? So that was the first lesson. Then I
had a web app building business just out of college. We, I used to build a
websites and web apps for, this was early 2000.

[00:03:52] Paritosh: 2005, I used to build that fordifferent clients had a few clients and then I had to shut it down because [00:04:00] then I joined Wipro and I figured out thatit's very difficult to do your business if you are moonlighting, right? So you
have to focus. Focus and doing one thing at a time is the most important thing.

[00:04:11] Andrew Liew: Why do you decide to shut downthe T shirt business and join Wipro? Was it, was the T shirt business doing
well then?

[00:04:16] Paritosh: No, it did not do well. We lost alot of money. We effectively sold things. Yeah. But one thing was very
important there, right? When we figured out that people were not buying the
product because of the quality, we.

[00:04:29] Paritosh: Created a story around it. We toldthem why we why the product quality is low, why we wanted to keep it cheap so
that everyone can afford it. And I think we sold around 90% of them, right? We
still had inventory left. So another another Learning out of that, that people
buy stories.

[00:04:48] Paritosh: They don't buy products, right?They, believe they, they buy you first before they buy the product that you're
selling. Yeah, so that was there. Then this web app business came and then I
went into [00:05:00] a corporate job. I workedwith, did a lot of good things and then went to Samsung. From Samsung, again, I
came back to startups as Wipro.

[00:05:08] Paritosh: I was working with Wipro's CTO inthe CTO office. He started on his own startup called Crayon Data. It's still
one of the world's biggest recommendation engine providers to enterprises. And
I built their platform and there is where I. I learned how to build businesses,
earlier it was all hobby. I used to do it because I like building getting money
from my own skillsets, right?

[00:05:33] Paritosh: But this is when I started thinking,actually thinking about building an organization, building a business,
building, getting people on board selling your ideas to the employees and all
of that. And I think a lot of who I am today comes from the. It comes from my
interaction with the founders of crayon and other early stage employees.

[00:05:56] Paritosh: I met there, right? A lot of themare still very good friends. So [00:06:00] thatis when I started flag rates did really good, but the problem was we were again
building product because I came from technology. My co founder was an analytics
guy. We were building a very nice product.

[00:06:12] Paritosh: It was one of the best at that time.A lot of people liked it, especially the industry liked it. A lot of people who
we respected in the industry came and saw and told us that this is very cool
that you're doing, but we were not building a business. We didn't know how to monetize
it well. And the problem is that with edtech, especially the K10 segment is
that the user and consumer are two different people, right?

[00:06:35] Paritosh: The parents pay, but the child uses,and we didn't realize it. Then we tried a lot of things to do To make it work,
but unfortunately it didn't and we came out of that and then we started this
digital transformation studio. It was not called digital transformation by back
then, right? It was 2015 14 and 15 16.

[00:06:56] Paritosh: So we started doing that did a lotof [00:07:00] good work. We worked we actuallywon a lot of competitive proposals, RFPs against McKinsey's and BCZs of the
world. How do you guys

[00:07:10] Andrew Liew: win over there? What was thesecret?

[00:07:12] Paritosh: Because we were this rag. And a momand pop thing, right?

[00:07:17] Paritosh: We used to, so the biggest thing Ilearned there was how to do B2B sales. It is more about the trust again, coming
back to the first one, right? People buy your story first. So when we went to
say we worked with Aviva to create their digital Agent platform. So when we
went there and we spoke to them, we showed them the picture of how things could

[00:07:38] Paritosh: And why are we the best people to doit? Because we are already doing it, right? We are not consultants. We are
operators. We have done it. We know what things can, where things can go wrong.
What what all can they what all risks are there when you're building a new
business out. That's, I think that, and of course we were very cheap, right?

[00:07:56] Paritosh: like one 10th the cost of aMcKinsey. But of [00:08:00] course, the valuethat you bring to the table, right? Jokes about the value that we brought to
the table was good enough for these clients to understand and to trust us,
right? So I did that, and then McKinsey came calling. They said, why don't you
join us?

[00:08:14] Paritosh: And I joined McKinsey worked with alot of good clients across the region, built Built us unicorn by value. I can't
unfortunately name it, but it's in healthcare in India and it's a big one. And
then worked in Southeast Asia. Actually, I built a Netflix competitive in
Southeast Asia.

[00:08:33] Paritosh: Again, can't name it, but lot ofgood stuff. Had some fun worked worked. Surprisingly, I loved working in mining
sector because industry 4. 0 was just beginning and I worked a lot with coal
mines across Southeast Asia, Australia, in India. And then it was fun. I loved
traveling. I loved doing things with the clients.

[00:08:57] Paritosh: The clients used to trust me mining

[00:08:59] Andrew Liew: companies

[00:08:59] Paritosh: that [00:09:00]go mining, oil mining coal, the basis of them all power station. Yeah, so it
was fun. I had a lot of fun doing that. Met a lot of good people because this
is a place where you get to meet a lot of good people, right?

[00:09:14] Paritosh: And then did a lot of digitaltransformation across these mining companies, banks, and digital lending
platforms and all of that. And there is where I worked a lot with Aniket and
Anuj and then we said, why don't we build it? So that, that sort of happened
and then liquid came. So liquid is currently in the my fifth attempt.

[00:09:38] Paritosh: And I think hopefully the finalattempt at building something valuable, hopefully we'll, I'll just keep scaling
it up. It's very

[00:09:46] Andrew Liew: easy. Yeah. Fine. I think like.When you're at McKinsey, like I said, it's a great place to work. You meet some
many wonderful people, you get to travel. Of course, we all know that McKinsey
pay handsomely well.

[00:09:56] Andrew Liew: What is it that got yourentrepreneur [00:10:00] each coming back thatyou want to scratch and ah, I gotta go and...

[00:10:04] Paritosh: If you heard my story, I think youwill know that I always wanted to do this, right? So it is something that I
will always keep doing. So as I said, it is hopefully liquid is hopefully my
last attempt, but I'll never stop doing it.

[00:10:17] Paritosh: It is who I am. I like to buildthings. I like to. Create new things out of thin air, right? It's almost sort
of magic. Get together with people and you start building things which actually
people use, right? All my products that were there, right? They were all things
that came out of a need that I saw and which was solving for real problems in

[00:10:40] Paritosh: For as many people I could touch andthat's why I always knew I will come out of McKinsey at some, point that came
with I found these two gentlemen. They were the best of the best. So Annie
Keith was the best of data scientists in the region. And AOJ built a lot of [00:11:00] digital products and businesses as actingc e o.

[00:11:04] Paritosh: And so it was the when stars align,you get together and then you come out. So who was the guy that discovered

[00:11:11] Andrew Liew: this? Each, discovered this likepersonal finance or wealth management problem? Yeah. A among us.

[00:11:18] Paritosh: So there is a very. Tragic storybehind it. So I, yeah. See, we, when we decided to come out, all of us were
working on digital lending products, and we thought that digital lending is the
best thing to do.

[00:11:30] Paritosh: This was early 21. Yes. COVID firstwave had just ended. And we were planning to come out of McKinsey. We started
working on this idea. Got a few angels. We started. storyboarding. We started
it was more than whiteboarding. It was a concrete shape. We wanted to do
livelihood lending for the gig workers, right?

[00:11:57] Paritosh: Yes. Like the Swiggy is [00:12:00] partners for Swiggy, Zomato. These arelike companies in India, like DoorDash, right? These are parallels for that. So
we wanted to do that. But then COVID second wave hit and everyone said digital
lending is doomed going by their experience in previous cycle of COVID, right?

[00:12:16] Paritosh: So we took a pause and we started wewere not doing anything, right? We had already quit McKinsey and we. We were in
what we call the search phase, wherein we were searching for something that we
can do. And we ran a volunteer organization called CoreSQ wherein we were like
700, 800 volunteers across 70, 80 cities in India.

[00:12:39] Paritosh: And we were helping people withgetting oxygen, things like oxygen, masks The hospital rooms, medicines, it was
a tough phase. The second wave was really a very, tough phase in India. A lot
of people died. Every house has a story that someone died in COVID phase two.
And that is where we figured out that credit[00:13:00]is good, but the problem with middle class Indians is they don't have enough
savings, which is adjusted against inflation.

[00:13:09] Paritosh: So what we do in India, we have avery good habit of saving. We are a saving first economy. We are a low trust
economy, right? So we save first and spend later. It is changing with the new
generation, but that is how we our generation has been brought up. But the
problem is savings is in banks, FDs and mostly ill or illiquid assets, right?

[00:13:31] Paritosh: Gold or houses, land, real estate,and people. Didn't know how to liquidate those fast to need to meet their
urgent needs, like what COVID brought huge hospital bills. A lot of people
didn't have money to pay that. So we figured out that there has to be a better
way to save your money and which has to grow and create wealth for you.

[00:13:56] Paritosh: So money versus wealth, that.Concept. We wanted to [00:14:00] create that.And when we came out of wave two, we knew exactly what we wanted to build. It's
that's why I said it's a very tragic story, but something good came out of it
for us. And hopefully for Indians had large liquid grows.

[00:14:16] Paritosh: Yeah. So we have started buildingthis post then. So in August is when we formally came out of McKinsey and we
incorporated in October and then we onboarded by the time we onboarded Wave
three eight. So we got delayed again. And then finally we started building in I
think April, may of.

[00:14:38] Paritosh: 22, we launched around July 22 andwe started monetizing in October 22. So that's the timeline. Yeah.

[00:14:49] Andrew Liew: And then I remember that, I thinkI met you at one of the FinTech expo. Yeah. That was just like about a year

[00:14:57] Paritosh: right? Not exactly a [00:15:00] year. Seven, eight months. Seven, eightmonths.

[00:15:01] Paritosh: Seven,

[00:15:01] Andrew Liew: eight months ago. Yeah. Yeah.Yeah. And how has things changed since then?

[00:15:05] Paritosh: So we fortunately we have found alot of acceptance in the market, a lot of people are using the platform we have
got around. We are closing 5 lakh users now for

[00:15:18] Andrew Liew: the audience,

[00:15:18] Paritosh: 500, 000, sorry, 500, 000 users.

[00:15:22] Andrew Liew: And,

[00:15:23] Paritosh: yeah, and we have started monetizingmodels. We have got a lot of experimentation done and and we built iteratively,
right? We figured out what people needed and they. Came to us and they told us,
okay, why don't you build this for us? And then we experimented with it. See
how much acceptance was there then industrialized it.

[00:15:44] Paritosh: So a few features have really foundproduct market fit. There are people who are paying us for a few things like
that. Of course, the trade recommendations that we give them, then there is
connect with an investment advisor, where in they come and they talk about [00:16:00] what they want to do in the next few yearsand how do they structure their investments.

[00:16:05] Paritosh: So that's there. Then there is an AIbot you can come and ask very specific questions about one particular stock.
And it will tell you what to do with the stock, depending on whether you have
that in your portfolio or where did you buy it, where is it currently and all
of that. So that's That's there.

[00:16:24] Paritosh: And this has found humongous supportamong the users, right? We have already delivered around 300, 000 personalized
reports in the last, five, six months. And then there are other parts of the
puzzle also, which we are building, we are now looking for again, coming back
to that initial idea that you should start investing in market related
instruments, which are safer.

[00:16:48] Paritosh: And which are. which will give youmore return than inflation. So we are coming out with our own baskets, wherein
you can start investing in things like ETFs and direct [00:17:00]stocks and commodities and bonds, right? All of them together create a basket
and then you can buy. And that is risk adjusted, right?

[00:17:06] Paritosh: According to your risk profile. So alot of good stuff happening. So that's, where we are right now. A lot of more
work to do. Ah, okay,

[00:17:15] Andrew Liew: cool. So thanks for sharing withus this story, man, like from the days in school and selling stickers to

[00:17:21] Andrew Liew: apps and then digitaltransformation, McKenzie, and then now they're doing a liquid now, like what
advice would you want to give for leaders or c suite executive?

[00:17:32] Paritosh: See, so I have been part of a fewlarge scale digital transformations and a lot of smaller ones. So having been
through that there Actually, three key differences between what a successful
transformation versus a not so successful transformation is, right? For the
leaders, the C sec executives, C suite executives, and N 1s and the Ns, there
are [00:18:00] three things which are veryimportant.

[00:18:01] Paritosh: The first one is the why of thetransformation. Why is this transformation? If you are in a industry just don't
do it because everyone else is doing it. That's the worst possible thing to do.
What you should

[00:18:15] Andrew Liew: bring syndromes, like everythingis shiny.

[00:18:17] Paritosh: Exactly. Don't join the bandwagonbig just because it is there, right?

[00:18:21] Paritosh: So it's not like a mountain, whichyou have to climb because it is there. You have to figure out why are you going
for this transformation? This leads this question leads. To the right business
lines being transformed the right if you're creating a new line of business,
then it gives you these, this leads to questions where you can filter out where
exactly do I need to put my effort?

[00:18:47] Paritosh: And if you look, if you think aboutit The Amazon didn't become successful because it created a digital shop,
right? It created the largest ever shop possible with an experience which
cannot be replicated in a real [00:19:00] lifeworld. So you have to think about that. If you're trying to transform, then
think, try transforming into.

[00:19:06] Paritosh: an entity or create a new entity,which is not possible in your current business paradigm and then leverage
technology to do that. So this is the why of transformation, right? Once you
have figured out, why do you want to transform? Why do you want to leverage
digital technologies? Then comes the what of the transformation, right?

[00:19:27] Paritosh: I don't know if you have seen this,but everybody shows that agile model, wherein you build a scooter before you
build a bike, before you build a car. Oh, yeah. I

[00:19:37] Andrew Liew: think it's called the AIP way ofthinking.