Propelld: Revolutionizing Education Financing with Innovative Solutions and Strategic Partnerships

CXOToday has engaged in an exclusive interview with Brijesh Samantaray, Co-Founder, Propelld


1) Please tell us about your background and why did you set up Propelld?

Propelld is the sequel of our passion and perseverance as three IIT alumni – Victor Senapaty, Bibhu Prasad Das, and Brijesh Samantaray. We have been childhood friends and always shared a desire to create something meaningful for society, something that would positively impact people’s lives. Despite having high-paying jobs, we felt unfulfilled and wanted to make a difference.

In early 2017, during our discussions about our shared passion for societal change, we realized a significant gap in a significant gap between how education financing is offered in the country versus what is verily required by the students. Motivated by this insight, we dedicated months to researching the education financing industry, studying existing models, and brainstorming ideas for a different approach. Finally, we came up with a truly unique concept – an underwriting system that could democratize access to education.

We embarked on building a financial product with a distinct underwriting methodology that would help students who couldn’t afford education otherwise. we aimed to make it fair, transparent, and accessible to everyone. As we expanded our offerings and tailored underwriting policies for different education segments, we witnessed the validation of our efforts through the appreciation and support of both students and institute partners.

Since then, Propelld has been soaring towards a future where no deserving student in India is deprived of quality education due to financial barriers. Our journey has been fueled by the vision of creating equal opportunities and transforming lives through accessible education financing.


2) In the rapidly expanding fintech landscape, What critical market need(s) or problem(s) are you addressing?

At Propelld, we leverage the best practices and tools of the financial services industry to make the Education ecosystem more efficient. Furthermore, we think that the investment perspective linked to educational costs requires a distinct FinTech player focused on education, which handles these expenses differently than other expenses. This is one of the problems we are trying to address as well. Because, due to the high NPAs associated with education loans, majority of the lenders look at education lending with a sceptical lens. But what we are trying to prove is that we cannot look at an education loan similar to any other retail loan which only considers the present repayment capability of the individual or the family. Education has the highest ROI and therefore the repayment capability should also be based on the future repayment potential of the individual/family.

On the same note, the penetration level of education loans in India at the moment is just 2-3%. That too concentrated on Tier 1 or Tier 2 Engineering or MBA colleges. But that just consists of a minimal percentage of students in comparison with the rest who wants to pursue quality education in different segments but cannot due to financial constraints. This is where we fit in solving these concerns with our personalized loan products for different education segments (School, coaching, university, Skillup) with a unique underwriting technique.

Ultimately, we have realized that the diverse nature of educational products and consumers demands a high degree of product customizability to enable a specialized player to delve deeper into the sector. Our vision is to democratize access to education, and we acknowledge that financial products have traditionally played a crucial role in any ecosystem to achieve this goal. As such, we leverage financial technology to offer innovative solutions that simplify the education financing process and make education more accessible to all.


3) By partnering with educational institutions, Propelld has established a strong presence in the education financing segment. How do these partnerships benefit both the institutions and the students they serve?

Propelld’s partnerships with educational institutions in the education financing segment bring mutual benefits for both the institutes and the students they serve.

For institutes, the partnerships offer access to working capital with upfront fee realization, higher approval rates for deserving students, quick sales and onboarding through a fully digital process, the ability to attract more students with monthly instalment options, and relief from the collection burden.

Parents and students benefit from flexible financial options, a hassle-free digital process, collateral-free loans with minimal documentation, a unique underwriting process that considers factors beyond credit scores, and inclusive income categories (including salaried and self-employed individuals like farmers, shop owners, and small contractors).

Overall, these partnerships enable institutes to effectively manage finances, enroll diverse and talented students, save time and resources through digital processes, and maintain positive relationships with students. For parents and students, the benefits include access to education despite financial constraints, a streamlined loan experience, and increased opportunities for higher education.

In summary, Propelld’s partnerships with educational institutions bring working capital, higher approval rates, convenience, and relief from financial burdens to institutes, while offering flexible financing, simplified processes, and inclusive loan options to parents and students.


4) How are you thinking about the competition in the Indian fintech market? How is Propelld different from its competitors?

Our competition primarily consists of upstart startups, both horizontal and vertical players, as we operate in a niche market. Horizontal players view education merely as a sourcing channel, while education-focused vertical players lack experience and market dominance. Our sustained leadership position in this segment and the vast market potential leave us with limited competition.

In terms of retaining our institute partners, we continuously strive to improve our product offerings and leverage non-traditional data sources to serve a higher number of learners better. Our close-knit relationship with the institutes enables us to make frequent product modifications, integrate with their systems, and remain their preferred partner.

Regarding students, we plan to transition towards more relationship-based offerings shortly. This will involve assisting students in rating and reviewing courses and educational services, enabling them to make informed decisions and fostering better connections.

Overall, despite the healthy competition we strive to cut-edge innovation to stay as the preferred education financing partner for our partner institutes and every Indian family.


5) As technology evolves at a rapid pace, how does Propelld stay at the forefront of tech advancements to ensure that its platform remains innovative and relevant in meeting the evolving needs of students and educational institutions?

Our technology accomplishes several crucial objectives. Firstly, it offers a high degree of customization, facilitating personalized user experiences and allowing Propelld to serve various sub-segments within the education industry. This degree of flexibility enables us to delve deep into customer profiles and meet their specific needs.

Secondly, our plug-and-play SaaS product for institute partners provides transparent revenue receivables, aiding reconciliation across different levels of the organization. This feature offers a significant advantage, as it allows our partners to manage revenue receivables with ease and clarity.

Thirdly, we unify loan booking, management, and data flows for multiple lending partners. This task presents a considerable challenge, given the nuanced nature of loan management across various booking and management service providers utilized by lenders. However, our technology streamlines these complex processes, providing a centralized and cohesive solution.

Finally, our technology features multiple engines, such as decision-making, fraud prevention, lender allocation, and communication, to name a few. These engines work in tandem to offer a comprehensive and efficient solution for all stakeholders.

Our technology is designed in a modular fashion, allowing for the decoupling of individual components for isolated use or repurposing for new applications. This approach provides a high degree of flexibility and enables experimentation, a crucial aspect in this traditionally challenging segment. While no silver bullet exists, we believe that our technology empowers us to come closer than any other player in the market, thereby making Propelld a leading force in the industry.

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