smallcase: The theme of things

Salil Panchal
Published: Feb 4, 2019 02:02:48 PM IST
Updated: Feb 5, 2019 11:09:04 AM IST

Life is not a template and neither is mine. Like several who have worked as journalists, I am a generalist in my over two decade experience across print, global news wires and dotcom firms. But there has been one underlying theme in each phase; life gave me the chance to observe and tell a story -- from early days tracking a securities scam to terror attacks and some of India's most significant court trials. Besides writing, I have jumped fences to become an entrepreneur, as an investment advisor -- and also taught the finer aspects of business journalism to young minds. At Forbes India, I also keep an eye on some of its proprietary specials like the Rich list, GenNext and Celebrity lists. An alumnus of Xavier Institute of Communications and H.R College of Commerce and Economics in Mumbai, I have worked for organisations such as Agence France-Presse, Business Standard, The Financial Express and The Times of India prior to this.

From left: Rohan Gupta, Vasanth Kamath and Anugrah Shrivastava's smallcase helps people invest in theme-based portfolios
Image: Nishant Ratnakar for Forbes India

smallcase: The theme of things
Vasanth Kamath | 27
Anugrah Shrivastava | 28
Rohan Gupta | 28
CEO; founders, smallcase
Category: Finance

In end-March 2015, Vasant Kamath was feeling restless—he had quit research firm Tracxn with the aim to create a finance product—when he called his friend from IIT Kharagpur Anugrah Shrivastava. Shrivastava was then creating thematic products for institutional investors at Nomura.

Keen to work on their own, Kamath and Shrivastava connected with another IITian friend, Rohan Gupta, a tech expert at Goldman Sachs India. In July 2016, the trio launched smallcase, a platform that offers investors the option of creating, or investing in, theme-based portfolios of stocks or exchange-traded funds.

Some of its earliest themes were GST, affordable housing and digital India—at a time when there were few options in the industry, such as consumption and natural resources. The most popular themes now are all-weather, smart beta, bargain buys and brand value. The Bengaluru-based company, which employs 51 people, has created over 60 portfolios itself, and its users have created about 50,000.

“smallcase is an inbuilt tool that encourages investors towards diversification and thinking portfolios rather than just stocks,” says Ravi Varanasi, chief business development officer at the National Stock Exchange of India.

smallcase has broking platform Zerodha, Axis Capital, HDFC Securities and Edelweiss Securities as partners and over 2.4 lakh active customers. The company earns revenues through fees of around ₹100 whenever a user invests in a portfolio, but not each time they buy or sell stocks. Revenues for FY18 touched ₹1.6 crore, a fivefold jump from FY17. 

smallcase has raised ₹55.5 crore from Sequoia Capital India, Blume Ventures, Straddle Capital and other institutional investors through three rounds of funding. “We are expanding to 10 brokerage firms [from four] by March and will also tap advisors,” says CEO Kamath.


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(This story appears in the 15 February, 2019 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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