Marketing

Money, money, money — in a decisive woman’s world

Chitra Narayanan | Updated on March 08, 2021

Aditi Sholapurkar, co-founder of financial products and services app SALT

Chaitra Chidanand, co-founder of financial products and services app SALT

Cash in on conversations #SALTStories

Shinjini Kumar, co-founder of financial products and services app SALT

Start-up SALT wants to break feminine stereotypes around money, and is asking women to reassert agency

“I learnt one thing quickly and clearly — if you have no money, you have no voice”

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“I think of myself as someone who will be at the top of my profession and I’m well on my way there. But even today, when my salary hits my account, I text my sister and say “we made it”.

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“Since our approach towards money was always cautious, the concept of taking a loan was discouraged at home. To this day, I am terrified of debt. That’s why I opted for a second-hand car.”

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For a month now, Twitter and Instagram users may have seen tales of women and money being shared with the hashtag #SALTStories — some of them accompanied by eye-catching animations.

What’s going on?

 

Well, it’s a teaser campaign of sorts, for SALT, a new financial products and services app built by Shinjini Kumar, former head of consumer banking at Citigroup, along with fintech professionals Chaitra Chidanand and Aditi Sholapurkar. It’s also a community building effort to band together women who want to take independent charge of their finances.

“Did you know that a large majority of women in India hardly handle their money. It is usually the husband, father, brother or wealth manager who does this,” asks Kumar indignantly.

The goal behind SALT, she says, is to solve for a behavioural issue. “Women score higher in education. They earn. They are independent in all other aspects. So what is it that deters them from being the decision-makers on investments?”

Sometime during the last quarter of last year, the high-profile banker, who was the first CEO of Paytm’s Payments Bank, got together with Chidanand and Sholapurkar to see if they could change this. “The three of us had known each other for a while. We brainstormed, discussing what type of organisation we wanted to build, what product, what TG (target group), what value would we offer, what would be the culture and so on.”

To start with, SALT is going to be focused on millennial women who are digital-savvy, earning and independent, and yet not really taking the decisions on their investments. “Decision-making was the key missing piece and we wanted to fill that gap,” she says.

So what exactly are they offering?

Well, here’s the interesting twist. SALT Stories are out, the social media handles are up, as is their website SALT.One, creatively done up by Syamantak Bhuyan, but there is no product yet; that is expected only two or three months later. The app will be launched sometime in May.

“We are taking a ‘build community first, product later’ approach,” says Kumar. Of course, they do have a crystallised vision of the product. Says Kumar, “We are not going to be a marketplace offering financial products from here and there. Nor are we going to be just a curated service.”

Instead, she says, the products will be designed in partnership with established financial institutions, and personalised to suit individual needs.

To understand the contexts behind each woman’s relationship with money,, the three founders have so far done 80 to 90 interviews with women. And they will keep these conversations going even as they grow. The conversations are, after all, leading to insights that will shape the product and service design.

A crystallised vision

A lot of creativity, and thought, has gone into the name and design of SALT. On the surface, salt and money seem to have nothing to do with each other. But, Kumar points out, salt is an everyday staple, as is money. Salt has shaped life, commerce, love, lore and warfare. As have women and money. That’s the connect, embodied through the big white crystals you encounter on the SALT website. Click on these and it leads you to more connections between the two.

Initially, SALT will be a digital-driven platform. But the vision is to have an offline distribution, especially essential in Tier 2 and 3 towns, where they intend to go. Also, they may be setting out with a millennial TG but, over time, every age group of women will be covered.

SALT’s mascot, designed and developed in-house, is a cow. “I had a cat in mind,” says Kumar, but the team came back with a cow with the name Moo-lah.

Well, let’s wait and see if it becomes a cash cow — for the customer and the founders.

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Published on March 07, 2021
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