In Conversation With Ravi Kumar – CEO & Co-founder, Upstox

Having traded in the stock markets since he was 16 years old, Ravi Kumar is now the co-founder and CEO of Upstox, a leading fintech brokerage firm based in Mumbai. Under Ravi’s leadership, Upstox has more than doubled its number of clients–just within the last one year.

We had a chat with Ravi to know why he chose the off-beat path and entered the fintech space in India.

1. Give us a snapshot of your academic and professional background. What responsibilities does your designation entail?

After completing my degree in Computer Science from the University of California–Irvine, I started an algorithmic high frequency trading fund out of Chicago with my brother. I have been passionate about trading in the stock markets ever since I was in my teens so it seemed like the most natural thing to do. To start a trading fund of our own! Fortunately, our first attempt at starting a trading fund was highly successful. We generated 500% returns year on year for several years. That gave us a much-needed confidence boost!

After the markets crashed in the US in 2010, we realized that India was an emerging market that had a much greater potential. I co-founded the then RKSV Securities along with my brother Raghu Kumar, and Shrini Viswanath, to provide the opportunity to invest in the stock markets to retail traders and investors in India.

For me, it is all about the user experience. Every person, whether you are a working professional with a 9 to 5 job or a freelancer or an entrepreneur, you need to invest. Financial literacy is at an all time low in India and that needs to change. That’s what I hope to change with the help of Upstox.

With a low brokerage cost and highly reliable trading platforms, you can begin investing in various instruments–stocks, derivatives, mutual funds–right from your phone! That kind of easy access and affordability is what I would like every young investor to take advantage of.

At Upstox, we make it a point to not think like your stereotypical financial firm. That’s because our average customer uses Uber, Swiggy, MakeMyTrip and all these other apps on a daily basis. It has almost turned into a habit. My dream is to turn investing and trading via Upstox into a habit!

My designation as a CEO consists of staying tuned to what the users want. I talk to our team of software engineers, designers and the back office team to get a feel for what the trends are in design and UI in order to come up with strategies that would ultimately benefit the customer.

2. What are the key recruitment trends in the financial industry?

Currently, in the financial industry you’ll see that fintech firms are hiring individuals from different backgrounds. It used to be the case that a broking firm only hired CAs, finance experts, research analysts.

We look for financial experts, of course. However, with an online broking model like ours, you need people who can design, architect and code a world class mobile-first user experience. You also need people who can strategize, develop content, and market it to our audiences across platforms.

3. What is the most important trait that you look for in a candidate, irrespective of what the job description demands?

At Upstox, I rely on some of the best people on my team to help me understand what the user needs at every step of the way. That’s why hiring highly motivated and talented individuals is our company’s philosophy.

Personally, I look for a candidate who is willing to share ideas and continue to learn. Especially in the current scenario wherein the technology is changing at a fast pace I would like to work with someone who can adapt and is resourceful.

 

4. A piece of advice for candidates willing to pursue a career with your organization?

What we look for is sincerity and drive. We want folks who are passionate about changing the way people invest and trade in India. Our firm belief is that technology and design can change a lot of things, and all our employees work hard towards getting all of India to optimally invest and trade.

Rapid Fire

1. What do you love the most about your city, Mumbai?

Fast paced character of the city. You can never be bored in Mumbai!

2. One gadget you cannot live without?

My iPhone

3. If not in the current profession, you would have been?

I can’t imagine doing anything else!

4. Your hobbies and interests?

Jamming & composing music

5. Ways to unwind or relax?

Read & Travel

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