Enabling smarter and faster trading is the motto of the one-year-old company uTrade Solutions. Kunal Nandwani, 32, who founded the company with three friends – Ashish Grover, Harwinder Sidhu and Mayank Mathur – says they provide faster, smarter and more efficient trading solutions to brokers, banks and investors.
“We analyse the trading process for information access, trading decisions and post-trade analytics. Our unique trading and technology experience helps us build smarter and futuristic trading platforms,” Nandwani said.
The Chandigarh-based company also provides risk management solutions, low latency infrastructure with algorithms, and portfolio analytics products, which are used by brokers, bankers, fund managers among others.
Software for stocks
Nandwani, a computer engineer from Punjab and an MBA from Paris, worked for six years with Lehman Brothers, Nomura and BNP Paribas in London in capital markets, electronic trading, prime brokerage and account management before returning to India to start uTrade.
“While on a trip to India, I met a few brokers and bankers and from them what I gathered was that there weren’t many companies in this segment and those that did exist were technologically out-dated, slow and over-priced. I sensed an opportunity here as I had enough experience in his segment,” Nandwani said. He added that the company’s unique approach of combining pre-trade analytics with manual and automated trading platforms differentiates uTrade from other trading platforms.
Nandwani said, “Indian software products in capital markets were not very evolved then. I got the idea to start a company in India and eventually expand the product coverage to global markets.”
Besides, Nandwani had sensed that the growth in the financial markets had slowed down dramatically after the Lehman Brothers crisis in 2008 and there was not much scope for professional as well as financial growth. “I had started looking around for bigger business ideas. It took me a while to identify the right business idea, and I quit my comfortable well-paying investment banking job in July 2010,” he added.
uTrade went live in April 2011 after a few months of business analysis and planning along with his co-founders. Mayank used to work in London at Morgan Stanley with Nandwani while Ashish and Harwinder studied at Punjab Engineering College with him. Besides, uTrade also has strong backing from John Lowrey (former CEO of CHI-X Global) and Arjun Malhotra (former CEO of Headstrong and co-founder of HCL) as advisors and board members.
Nandwani and his co-founders created a corpus of Rs 2 crore from their savings. In 2012, the venture got funding from a Hong Kong-based seed fund. From a garage with just four people, uTrade is now a full-fledged company with about 40 employees and over 15 financial institutional clients from India, Singapore and UK. uTrade hopes to enter the international market by next year with a partner and is also seeking venture capital funds. Nadwani expects the company to break even within FY 2014.
A first-generation entrepreneur, Nandwani said the biggest challenge for start-ups in India is finding the right talent. “There are lots of engineers in India, but the vast majority is not employable by start-ups. We worked hard to overcome this and created a good team. We interviewed about 20 candidates whom we shortlisted from over 100 resumes to fill every single position,” he adds.
On the company’s plans and achievements, Nandwani, said that uTrade has filed for six patents in India and one each in the US and the UK. These patents focus on innovation around how the future of capital markets trading may evolve.