Bharosa Club is a start up based out of New Delhi, India and aims to be one of the leading robo advisory firms. Sanjay chairs the board and is the principal founder. He has no executive responsibilities which gives him the bandwidth to work on creating a Market Expansion Exchange that will solve the Infinity equation and bring us closer to the goal of ending poverty in India by 2022.
Sanjay Bhargava – sanjay bhargava
Sanjay handled the cash management business in India, Thailand and New York over the span of 17 years at the Citibank Group. He then joined the founding team at PayPal Inc and is credited by Elon Musk as having figured out the world’s first low cost method of authenticating terrestrial bank accounts, which was critical to making the PayPal business model work. Post Paypal, he went on to start the Universal Financial Access (UFA) movement in India and IIC Fellowship with the University of Chicago.
Sanjay is an alumnus of IIT B, IIM A and Stanford University, and firmly believes that a company can ‘Make Billions and Help Millions’. He started Bharosa Club to provide simple, transparent and commission free financial advice to people – products that pass the ‘friends and family test’.
Sanjay Bhargava is now on a mission to make Indians embrace financial wellness. According to him, 90% of Indians suffer from FDD (fixed deposit disorder).
Sanjay and Elon : The First meeting –
It is difficult to find people who share the lead entrepreneur’s passion. But entrepreneurs who do build billion dollar businesses are able to find people who are better than themselves and get them to share the passion and the belief.
My final interview with Elon Musk started at around 8am in a diner and went on till about 3am the next day. Once he felt that I was the kind of person he was looking for, most of this time was spent by Elon on convincing me to join. His only reservation was that prior to PayPal I had only worked in large companies, and whether I would be able to deliver in a start-up environment. On my part, I had to take a very large pay cut, which was unsettling to say the least.
We finally decided on a 15 day trial period once Elon convinced me that we were going to build a rocket ship and he felt I should be one of the astronauts. Fortunately, the 15 days were enough for the two of us to realize that we had made the right decision. We did end up building a rocket ship.
Elon says :
“A large percentage of the critical executives and other personnel came from X, including: Sanjay Bhargava, a former Citibank executive, who figured out the world’s first low cost method of authenticating terrestrial bank accounts, which was critical to making the PayPal business model work.”
Anita Kapur Bhargava – Anita Kapur Bhargava
1999-2004 : PayPal
2004 – 2015 : Worked closely with Bureaucracy and Politicians on using a constituency as a lab to find sustainable scalable solutions for urban issues.
2015 : To present co-founder Bharosa Club, formed to provide transparent commission-free advise and execution to people.
Special interest : Ending poverty and Community Action. Anita led the Let’s Do It Delhi citizen’s initiative to get Dilliwalahs to pitch in to make their city environs clean and stop blaming the authorities in 2010.
People from various parts of the city volunteered along with companies like Mahindra, Jindal Steel, PNB. Her vision has been to create coalitions among all stakeholders from politicians, citizens, corporations, non-profits to bureaucracy, to achieve complex social goals .
Prakash Pai – Prakash Pai
An Experienced professional with three decades of expertise in providing cutting edge technology solutions to the banking and financial services industry in the retail banking, lending, cash management and payments space. Experience cuts across technology, domain knowledge, business development, general management and talent management. Proven experience at building start up companies and teams with ability to attract and lead talented professionals. Member of senior leadership teams in private, MNC’s, public sector companies. Experience of banking and financial services operations in India, emerging and developed global markets. Current areas of interest payment banks, mobile wallets, payment systems, banking systems and lending business. Motivated by challenges of building a start up venture or leading a turn around in an established company.
Prakash Pai has spent over 25 years in the Indian financial software systems and payment Industry and can be said to be its founding member. After his masters from IIT Delhi, he joined Nucleus Software which became an Industry leader for over a decade. Post that he launched the Indian mobile wallet operations of Nokia, which subsequently was sold off. Presently, he is now in a startup mode helming a new age robo advisory firm which aims to take financial services products to the masses.
The start-up story of Sanjay Bhargava in his own words :
A tale of two Mafias
My journey with startups began twenty years ago when I was 41. Till then I was an intrapreneur in Citibank. I was very fortunate to be part of The Citibank mafia ( 1980 -1989) which was a group of super talented individuals put together by Victor Menezes. This group made Citibank the innovation leader in India. I was inspired by people I never met like Tom Peters who wrote a ‘Passion for Excellence’. In the summer of 1998, I was introduced to Silicon Valley by my brother Sunil Bhargava and I found that innovators like me were made to feel extra special by the leading VC’s in Silicon Valley. One of these Mike Moritz told Elon Musk about me and Elon went out of his way to get me to join X.com ( the precursor to PayPal). In PayPal, I was again fortunate to be a part of the PayPal Mafia – a group of super talented people who laid the foundation for PayPal to become a 100 billion $ company by solving the infinity equation. Many then went on to form other great companies ( Tesla Motors, LinkedIn, Palantir Technologies, SpaceX, YouTube, Yelp, Yammer , Geni.com , Kiva.org ).
From 2004 I have been In India trying to encourage infinity and platform thinking in India and many individuals like Abhishek Sinha, Nitin Chaudhry, Sunny Narang and Prakash Pai have inspired me to try and achieve the impossible in India. Warren Buffet and Jack Bogle have been great inspirations in my current adventure Bharosa Club. My greatest inspiration has been my wife Anita and my son Sahil.
Whenever I have felt that I have done enough they make me think of Robert Frost’s words ” The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep”
Members of the PayPal Mafia on Fortune magazine dressed in mafia-like attire. From left to right, top to bottom: Jawed Karim, Jeremy Stoppelman, Andrew McCormack, Premal Shah, Luke Nosek, Ken Howery, David Sacks, Peter Thiel, Keith Rabois, Reid Hoffman, Max Levchin, Roelof Botha, Russel Simmons
From Sunny Narang’s Facebook Page
February 18th, 2018
Sanjay Bhargava was original team member Pay Pay, directly head hunted by Elon Musk . Sanjay is credited with innovation of verifying bank accounts and credit cards via that minimal transaction , that is returned. He now is co founder of Bharosa Club a mutual fund advisory and operating platform only into direct funds .
He writes how the regulatory mechanisms in US aid innovation not block it.
A good read in context of PayTM an Alibaba funded company crying wolf at What’s App payment play .
Just like Flipkart founders tried playing the Swadeshi angle .
Everyone in this game is global .
And let’s get used to this or have the ability like China to firewall everyone and create the best technology in-house .
“All four legs of the ecosystem in India regulators, government, bureaucracy and judiciary have to support disruptive innovators. I am very optimistic this will happen.”
What were the learnings from PayPal. Read on to find out.
Sanjay’s journey in his own words :
May 27th, 2017
Given that most founders are much younger; I am often asked why someone who is close to retirement would dive into the turbulent world of start-ups.
In fact, investors worry if you would have the same hunger and drive to create wealth when you are already wealthy and have nothing much to lose. Not to forget the self-doubts that have crept in from time to time on being able to deal with the physical and mental stress that accompanies start-ups.
However, I can confidently say now that there is no right age for starting up. There are those factors that push you to be an entrepreneur and those that make you pause.
The birth of Bharosa was rooted in the realization that Mutual Funds have created enormous wealth in India over the last few decades. The problem was that a little less than 1% of Indians took advantage of this opportunity. Digging deeper one realized that the root cause of the dramatically low penetration of mutual funds were a set of systemic problems plaguing the industry. Bharosa was formed to address these systemic problems so that great financial products, starting with mutual funds could reach and benefit millions.
Startups are never about just one person. My wife Anita and my co-founder Prakash were very much part of the group who believed that we could make a difference to millions. All of us were over 50 but we knew we brought different skillsets to the table, which together could help solve this problem. We then started building a core team of like-minded people who shared our passion and believed in our vision
What I can’t emphasize enough, and this is what I often say to people I meet who are much younger to me, is that it is really never too late to start. This may sound like a cliché, but I can tell you from first-hand experience that this is true.
If you think that you have a great idea that can solve a definite problem, age shouldn’t be a factor at all. In fact, your experience and the business acumen you have developed over the years will stand you in good stead.
The start-up ecosystem has greatly evolved in India, and with the government pushing and incentivizing home-grown startups, there has never been a better time to do business in the country.
Once you have the conviction to back your idea and see merit in pursuing it, do yourself a service and give it a try – sometimes even failure can teach you a lot.
April 7th, 2017
The fact that a few savvy domestic investors and many FIIs gained while over 90 per cent of domestic Indians missed out is what we are calling THE GREAT INDIAN MUTUAL FUND TRAGEDY 2000-2016.
This article assumes that during 2017-2033, India will continue to grow rapidly. During 2000-2016, India’s GDP grew five times, from around $400 billion to $2 trillion. Most predictions are that by 2033, Indian GDP will be over $10 trillion. In other words, it will grow five times again. The wealth-creation opportunity is likely to present itself once again!
27th November , 2015
Says Sanjay, “Customer unfamiliarity, relative absence of unbiased advice, high commission structures and systemic inefficiencies in the distribution mechanics have collectively resulted in the current under penetration. As a result, an entire generation has lost out on a great wealth creation opportunity in the last 15 years – by not investing in mutual funds. By choosing to invest in FDs, they have lost out on the enormous benefits of investing in equity. Through the club, we want to bring households and businesses on the same platform, reduce costs and middlemen, eradicate poverty, and make billions by serving millions.”
Back to Sunny’s Facebook Posts :
15th May, 2015
The BIG DREAM is to get hundreds of millions to understand all kinds of savings and investment better and not be taken for a ride by Mutual Funds, Insurance Agents, Bonds, Companies deposits etc. From Drivers and Maids to people like us.
We all have actually just 3 ways of income. Earning , Reducing Consumption costs and getting better return on our investments . Obviously inheritance and gambling and lottery are also there.
And to earn and consume you need Credit. And getting credit without reputation is expensive. And so building reputation is the key to lower borrowing costs.
And build ‘Reputation Capital’ of individuals, small enterprises and corporations.
The club will launch on October 2, 2015 and will be shaped by early members. The larger the club the more the club can do for its members.
There is strength in numbers. By joining today and enrolling others you can shape the club and help it grow. You can also take action by reading the blog and improving your financial health and confidence. Here are some of the actions that some members have already taken:
Set up direct SIP into Equity Mutual Funds for themselves Gifted a micro SIP to their domestic help Surrendered money back life insurance policies Bought term life insurance policies
Becoming a member is easy. Just put your email in the form above and subscribe. We will send you a monthly newsletter. Our newsletters and how to guides will empower you even prior to launch so join today. Membership is Free.
Disclaimer: Bharosa Club gives general advice to members treating them as friends and family. It takes no commission or advertising so it has no conflict of interest. The club may modify advice based on member feedback and takes no liability for actions based on advice it may have given. Members should use the advice with caution and do their own due diligence before acting.
Join here Bharosa Club
20th April, 2015
Last year IIC : International Innovation Corps was an unique start-up which was just a collaborative entity which I was a co-funder/mentor of, is now moving home from University of Chicago Law School to University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy.
The programme of putting 15 fresh graduates from Indian Universities and University of Chicago on real-time PSU and industry-sector solution in partnership with the Government bureaucracy has now support from USAID and may soon become a multi-national programme.
Even an established top private US university is now working in start-up and stealth mode of learning on the ground. The Indian University system is so decayed and past-century, by the time it wakes up, the whole concept of the University will have changed into an incubator and consultant, a live-process entity that creates and documents as it experiences.
I am happy I was part of it. It showed me possibilities. And I haven’t ever cared about institutional education and there is no dearth of smart Professors I am associated with !
A new partnership with the Research and Innovation Fellowships program of the United States Agency for International Development’s Global Development Lab is helping IIC grow. Phoebe Holtzman, director of operations, said the IIC plans to add at least one more team of five fellows for the 2015-2016 program. Further expansion in India and in other Asian and Latin American countries is also possible in future years.
This partnership with USAID opens new doors to project opportunities with U.S. Missions in India and other countries,” Holtzman said. “This will expand our network of project partners and provide fellows a larger global support-system.
For more information or to apply for a fellowship, visit Uchicago
I wrote about it on my post in Linked In last November calling it
“PPP 2.0 = 6P ! International Innovation Corps in India.”
7th February, 2015
We see IYM as a platform that connects a billion minds, industry and Government to produce results using collaborative innovation and lean start up methodology. Bureaucrats and politicians will submit projects that have well defined goals and time lines. If these are approved by at least five trustees the projects will be launched. The role of the CM will be to champion the projects and remove road blocks. In addition to providing funding for the project teams, industry will also provide inputs through ethical lobbying. The youth working on the projects will be expected to put in sixty hour work weeks and deliver. They will be paid well and it will be a great opportunity for them to learn, build their resumes and some may become or join world class entrepreneurs. For flagship projects an attempt will be made to find a lead mentor / team lead who have an innovative way of addressing tough problems. Youth 14+ can join the platform using mobile and the internet to contribute their ideas as well as monitor progress on the projects. Building a platform which can effectively excite a lot of stakeholders and contribute to big fast results is not easy and this is why the IYM core team needs to be world class.
September 15th, 2014
This is the first year of the IIC initiative and three teams of five students each have been assigned different projects. While one team is helping the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation plan in Greater Noida, another team is working with the National Skills Development Corporation to improve local textile production through vocational academies in the Vidarbha, Maharashtra. The third team is helping the Central Electronics Limited to develop a network of organisations to boost indigenous electronics production.
11th November, 2014
Indian Public Sector or autonomous State-funded Corporations. Industry experts and professionals. University of Chicago. 5-6 well-intentioned , intelligent, passionate interns from all over the world and India. This is a visionary experiment imagined by Sanjay Bhargava ex- PayPal India  which radically transformed the global financial payments industry, disrupting the banks huge fees.
Sanjay Bhargava is partnered by his wife Anita Kapur Bhargava who was incharge of Data Warehousing in Paypal, and when she left it was already competing with Walmart in its volumes ! And their University of Chicago co-founder is another brilliant Indian, Anup Malani, Lee and Brena Freeman Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School.
When Sanjay and Anita came back few years ago they dreamt they will work pro-bono and support their passions of creating scaled up solutions in financial inclusion, better governance and sanitation and health. They both are brilliant, well-intentioned professionals who have explored Indian bureaucracy and politics to see how smart people can help implement solutions that India needs. They both were part of the Anti-corruption movement as well as initial pre-AAP formations before they moved on to more structural and foundational work.
They realised that there are many great bureaucrats and Public sector professionals and top managers who do not have the support staff and consultants who can dream , plan, network, collaborate and finally implement the goals. In just about every department there is a lethargy due to great talent either going out or in the private corporate sector due to the huge difference in financial packages or the way the Indian Government works.
So what can be a possible way out ?
1. Find the bureaucrats and Public Sector heads who are still dynamic and will chase a dream.
2. Build a team of passionate interns fresh out of University of Chicago and young professionals from India willing to give 14 months and pay them decently.
3. Create a space in the PSU/PPP for such a team with a Lead Mentor who is a domain professional from the Private sector willing to give his time and skills.
4. Create what I have always believed in, a ‘Cloud’ of Mentors with various skills and networks to help the team assess and understand and then try their best to implement new vision .
I have met many of the interns, mentors and the PSU/PPP heads and their top teams via this. I met University of Chicago team from USA and in Delhi.
There is a new energy and desire to get things done like never before. There are still many road-blocks , the main being creating trust between the public and private agencies , and getting the right partners to roll out B.H.A.G (Big Hairy Audacious Goals ) who believe that everyone can win.
The first three PSU/PPP are CEL (Central Electronics Limited) to dream a huge solar and renewable energy industry for India , DMICDC (Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation) to dream of sustainable new cities and how to plan and roll them out , NSDC (National Skill Development Corporation) to dream a better future for textiles and textile workers and industry that employs more than 45 million people , the largest outside agriculture , from growing cotton/jute or silk/wool to the fibres, fabrics , garments , industrial uses.
I was part of the NSDC group as you can see in the mentoring cloud on the link below , but I have ended up talking and dialoging with all three ! I am interested in sustainability so renewables are exciting , as well as rolling out the options between a China and a Gandhi for habitations and textiles are a life-long passion.
I somehow don’t seem to be able to say no. Tried all my life , still not managing.
But hope many such new experiments bloom in Public-Private-Professional-Professor-People Partnership space ! Many universities and many National and State level Public Sector enterprises are showing interest in this new model.
This is a kindda start-up for a new kind of Envisioning, Planning, Networking and Implementing Commission . Just my kindda fun !
14th April, 2014
Talking of successful Bay Area types who came back Swades-style !
Here are Sanjay and Anita Bhargava.
Anita believes in starting Municipal Ward upwards to find solutions for urban-waste management while Sanjay believes in Universal Financial Access and finding solutions by huge collaborative University-Entrepreneur-Professional-Public Sector-Government networks.
I hear many such couples are working in every geography in India. The Once Upon a Time Brain-Drain is now a Brain-Adventure to build scalable solutions back home.
Sanjay Bhargava was one of the chief business architects of PayPal, the payment service now owned by E-Bay Inc. A graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai and the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, he spent 18 years at Citibank in the U.S., India and Thailand. In 2002-2003, he was a Reuters Digital Vision Fellow at Stanford University. In 2009 he founded the Universal Financial Access (UFA) movement in India . He describes himself as UFA Evangelist Number One. Sanjay has been living in New Delhi since 2004.
Meanwhile Anita was in charge of Data-Warehousing in Pay Pal . She was a Navy kid and worked in New York and then in California, in the Bay Area .
The lack of bureaucratic will is the largest reason India is the way it is,” says Anita , who has identified politics and governance, rather than technology, as the key issues that need to be tackled if she is to achieve her ambitious goal of ridding Delhi of its slums in three years.
Anita’s strategy has been to find a willing councillor – in this case Satvinder Kaur Sirsa in Delhi’s Ward 103 for Punjabi Bagh and Madipur – and become that person’s appointed ‘shadow councillor’, a position that allows her to apply management solutions from business to apparently intractable urban problems. The idea is to start in this ward of 150,000 inhabitants, and then apply the solutions that work to the whole of Delhi.”We want people who have good solutions to use this ward like a laboratory. We will make sure it is replicable.
Meanwhile Sanjay believes in the mobile phone as the biggest disruptive enabler of credit and saving. It can help circulate more than a trillion USD in rural and unbanked-as-yet micro-credit.
The magnitude of the problem in rural India is large. A common estimate for the number of unbanked adults in India is 300 million. Of these probably 70% are in the rural areas or 210 million. For these the credit needs even at $5,000 per adult gives credit needs of US $1.1 trillion. $5,000 in rural India is not enough to buy an affordable home, transport, consumer durables and education.
Rural India presents some exciting design challenges. Devices cannot use continuous electric power; they must be battery operated and use very low amounts of power so they are not bulky or expensive. Transactions and usability cannot be complex as otherwise the education barrier will be too high. Connectivity requirements should be limited because high speed connections will either not be available or be very costly.
The devices must be able to withstand tough conditions like dust, heat, cold and require close to zero maintenance. Very basic mobiles meet this need and even the rural poor have them in ever increasing numbers but the poorest of the poor cannot afford low cost mobiles. For them they could be given signature booklets and the transaction can be done for them by a Business Correspondent.
If a mobile wallet paying up to 5% tax free interest with a maximum balance or 50,000 rupees (about $1000) was created and 30 million Indians had these with an average balance of 10,000 rupees (about $200) then 300,000 crores or $6 billion of deposits could be raised. These could be earmarked for lending to the rural and urban poor but before that is done a reputation bureau is a must.
Financial service providers are yet to realize that the power of technology and innovation as outlined above could enable them to profitably serve rich and poor consumers in rural and urban India and win market share. If they do that in India they could over time win globally as well. UFA for rural consumers could well be a big engine of growth for them to dominate retail banking globally.
The market cap of State Bank of India is around $22 billion. The market cap of Visa is approximately $50 billion. Can SBI, which caters to one sixth of the world’s population, aspire to disrupt Visa with a division that provides branchless banking and cardless payments? If this division became half the size of Visa today, its market value would be $25 billion, which is more than the market cap of SBI today. I would urge Indian banks to think big and not small.
14th April, 2014
In another time were the Peace Corps, now is the age of International Innovation Corps!
With the huge number of successful Indian professionals in academia in USA and in software/ services in the Bay Area, and the large number of start-ups that scaled in India in the last 20 years, it was a matter of time before all this ‘creative surplus’ interconnected to work on the social and public sphere. IIC as they call it will start with three projects in 2014, it has been funded entirely by India based companies and PIO/OCI/Indian HNI’s from the tech and services world.
It starts with 3 projects. One in electronics manufacturing in the Public Sector. Second in new urban infrastructure and the third in Farmer to Garment Manufacturing in Cotton based on Rural Employment .
Energizing domestic electronics manufacturing with Central Electronics Ltd. (CEL) Developing industry-focused sustainable charter cities with the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation (DMICDC) Revitalizing cotton production in the Vidarbha region with the National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC) – A Microspin led disruptive scale-up of Indian cotton industry .
Sanjay Bhargava the Co-Founder of IIC invented one of the key technology/business processes for PayPal, ‘random deposit’, that revolutionized the entire field of verifying bank accounts for electronic transactions. Anup Malani the other Co-Founder is the Lee and Brena Freeman Professor at the University of Chicago Law School and Professor at the Pritzker School of Medicine. He is also a University Scholar at Resources for the Future in Washington, a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Boston, a Senior Fellow at the Schaeffer Center at University of Southern California, an editor at the Journal of Law and Economics, and on the board of the University of Chicago Press. He is the principal investigator on the Indian Health Insurance Experiment, a 12,000 household study of health insurance in Karnataka, India.
To catch up with the development of India, the Indian public sector needs to be able to execute innovative and scalable solutions. The IIC hopes to jump-start the process of using innovative solutions to solve India’s social problems.
The IIC is a program to connect top-performing US and Indian college graduates with Indian public sector enterprises for one-year assignments that tackle discrete and tractable but important social challenges.
Each team will be comprised of graduates from a variety of disciplines who will be trained in the US and India in innovative design, social entrepreneurship, management consulting skills, and leadership.
Two top performers from the partner institution will work with the IIC team for the duration of the project, with each team totaling seven members. The seven person team will receive support throughout the project from an India-based mentor who understands rapid innovation in the Indian context and a US-based mentor experienced in global best practices.
The 2014 class of IIC Fellows included eight graduates of the College, two graduates of other parts of the University, and five graduates of Indian universities.
The idea to create IIC came to Malani while conducting his own research. Since 2010 he has been studying how health insurance can be provided to more low-income individuals and families in India. While undertaking this study, Malani kept coming across government officials who were looking for assistance in many different areas. For example, one official asked for help with how to clean up a database of information on household assets so that such information could be placed on cards that individuals could carry with them. The portable cards would make it easy for them to sign up for a variety of government services all at the same time.
“The questions and requests for help kept coming in and I thought that these were really neat problems to solve, but I simply didn’t have the bandwidth to do it.” The government officials sought help because the Indian government, which does not pay well, has a shortage of well-educated, well-trained employees. Talented graduates there are going into the private sector,” Malani explained.
Then he met Sanjay Bhargava , one of the chief business architects of PayPal, in June 2013. Bhargava also felt that that the Indian government was interested in taking on intriguing projects but was unable to execute them because of a lack of trained labor. During their conversation, it occurred to Malani that back in Chicago, he had just the opposite problem., he had access to lots of skilled and educated new graduates who were eager to make a difference but could not find public-interest jobs with decent pay and a high level of responsibility. “I realized we had to figure out a way to bring the skilled labor from Chicago to India. And we had to raise funds for competitive wages, wages that the Indian government wouldn’t or couldn’t pay,” Malani said.
Malani Bhargava and Phoebe Holtzman, who led development and operations for Malani’s health insurance project, decided that they could raise philanthropic funds to provide both expertise for the Indian government and good jobs for the potential fellows. Over the next several months, the trio began searching for funding with assistance from the University’s Office of Alumni Relations and Development. By February 2014 they had funding in place for three projects and began active recruitment. They hired both Chicago graduates and accomplished Indian university graduates to join the project.