As co-founder and CTO of Hektor – a nine-month-old startup that automates savings intelligently for millennials – Vidur Malik is a true-blue coding geek. He shares his experience accumulated from working in four different startups in the past three-and-a-half years.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I’m originally from India, went to Brown University in the US for both my undergrad in aerospace engineering and masters in computer science. So, as you can guess, I’m a nerd through and through. After school, I worked as a software / algorithms engineer for a startup in New York City for a couple of years and saw it grow from ~50 employees to ~250 employees. I also started an insurance startup in NYC before moving to Singapore. Aside from Fintech, I’m also very interested in AgroTech. I think there are tremendous business opportunities in the world of agriculture; after all, we all have to eat!
What is your business venture about?
Hektor is an intelligent and automated savings assistant for millennials. Every day, Hektor transfers some money from your checking to your Hektor savings account based on your lifestyle habits. For example, Hektor can punish you if you’ve been shopping too much.
What is your mission at the outset?
Very simply, to improve the financial health of millennials.
How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
The original idea was very simple; I just wanted to save some money. But the forces of behavioural finance work against us. We essentially sabotage ourselves when it comes to handling our personal finances. I honestly wanted to solve a personal problem, and frankly, a problem I was seeing in nearly all my millennial friends.
Of course, the idea has now grown and developed beyond what we had thought initially. Always Be Iterating!
What is unique about your business?
The front-end of our business is very simple; we help you automate your savings and manage your money. But what people don’t see is the complex back-end, which includes our algorithms, payment integrations, partner integrations and compliance frameworks. This has essentially formed a moat around our company, and gives us a competitive edge.
Why will customers stay or do repeat business with you?
Customers love us because we transform the essential act of saving from something you have to do, into something you want to do. Once the intelligence and automation of Hektor kicks in, we take over that aspect of the customer’s life. It’s all about seeing that extra cash they have in their accounts at the end of the month, that’s almost magically appeared, that keeps millennials on our platform.
What have been the biggest obstacles?
As with all Fintechs, regulation was a hurdle, as was general understand of the business model. It was hard to convince people that we were building a business around savings, when businesses are almost always built around spending.
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Figure out your primary customer acquisition channel early and hammer it to death. Acquiring customers is the single most important thing you’ll be doing as a business, and it took me embarrassingly long to realise this fact.
Do you have any final thoughts?
Startups and especially fintech startups are very tough. Make sure that you have a plan and that you run your startup like an actual business. As a famous man once said, “Hope is not a tactic”!
What’s next for you and for Hecktor?
We’re focusing on building our team and on building partnerships with FIs. My end goal is to build the best possible team with an aligned vision. There are few things as powerful as a bunch of talented people working on the same mission.
Hock Lai has 18 years of experience in the financial industry, having performed roles in both business and technology. He graduated from the National University of Singapore (Real Estate), Nanyang Technological University (Infocomm Technology) and Nanyang Polytechnic (Fund Management & Administration).
He is also a Fellow of the Singapore University of Social Science, advisor to FinTech Startups and mentor to student FinTech projects.
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