Expert Speak Digital Frontiers
Published on Nov 03, 2020
We are at the cusp of globalisation and digital connectivity, which has transformed how product building needs to be thought out.
Streak AI Technologies: Democratising stock markets with retail intelligence software ORF: Streak is revolutionising the daily retail investor’s trading experience. Tell us how you developed Streak’s unique value proposition. Jayalakshmi Manohar: The stock market has evolved thanks to technology since its inception. From the trading floors at exchanges, to placing orders via telephone, and now trading via terminals made accessible by brokers’ software applications on your mobile phones, the markets have been at the forefront of adopting technology quickly. However, although the trading applications available to retail traders have eased order placement, they do not equip the trader with sophisticated tools to make timely trading decisions. We see traders lose out in the markets, with over 90 percent of trades making a loss. On the other hand, institutional traders have financial resources, large teams and advanced tech infrastructure that help them take calculated positions to minimise risk and maximise profits. Streak was founded to democratise the retail trading landscape and empower traders by equipping them with sophisticated state of the art technology that can be wielded via a simple easy-to-use interface that requires no coding knowledge. Retail traders can now access Streak's intelligence layer to make quick trading decisions while being able to track their positions in the market with pre-defined entry and exit strategies. On Streak, retail traders have run over 35 million backtests, deployed over 4.3 million strategies and placed orders that have generated a traded value of over US$1 billion. We wanted to provide traders with an end-to-end platform — from being able to strategise the trading ideas they see on charts, to backtesting their strategies and finally being able to execute these strategies in the markets. With Streak, a trader is no longer blindsided by market moves but is equipped to handle market movements across multiple asset classes like equities, commodities, currencies and future contracts on the go. ORF: The average Indian’s participation in equity markets is minuscule compared to other major economies. How can a platform like Streak change this? What are the challenges you will face? JM: In a country with a population of 1.2 billion and one of the highest household savings ratios in the world (30 percent), India’s retail participation in the stock markets is a feeble two percent. The number drops drastically when you look at active day traders or swing traders. To add to the low retail participation, another problem that goes hand in hand is traders drop off. The predominant reason behind this is a lack of financial literacy that prevails in the country, which has been the biggest challenges that we have faced. With Streak, we want to bring about a radical positive change by addressing this issue within our product offering. Several features of the product, such as backtesting and paper trading, act as training wheels for novice traders or those who have not previously participated in the markets. The other challenge is trading biases and behavioural biases that people have, which causes huge losses and sometimes leads to wipe-outs. Our platform is also designed in a way to address some of these issues and measures are inherently built into the platform. We believe that strategic trading is the future of stock markets and retail traders are quickly adopting our technology. Over 380,000 traders have used our platform, with most being millennials. We have seen a phenomenal growth uptick among millennials who are investing their time in educating themselves, with the number of demat accounts opened nearly doubling in the last quarter. The advent of new age tradable assets such as cryptocurrencies, where markets run 24/7 across the globe, has put Streak at the forefront, making it the go-to platform for traders due to the ease of trading multiple instruments in a simplistic way.  ORF: What lessons do you share for fellow entrepreneurs who want to Make in India and deliver quality digital products to domestic and international customers? JM: Think scale, think global. We are at the cusp of globalisation and digital connectivity, which has transformed how product building needs to be thought out. We now live in a world where a product built in any corner of the country, even from a small town can be quickly adopted by people around the globe. It can be overwhelming to build a product that can be accepted by millions of users globally; after all, people's behaviour is influenced by the geographies and culture they are exposed to. However, this can be simplified when you break down the product building process into two parts — functionality and user experience. With functionality, you have heard it before — solve a real problem and users will flock to your product. To solve a real problem, you first need to put yourself in your consumers’ shoes and then tackle it in a way that will produce a simple yet powerful solution. The solution needs to be at least 10x better than the current alternative. This part is often the hardest and most iterative in nature. It will require you to build prototypes, betas and test it in the market and sometimes question your own beliefs. For digital products, UI/UX plays multiple crucial roles in a user's journey. UI/UX is how a user gets to know your company and it is vital to deliver a seamless, consistent experience across the multiple touch points. This process will require a different kind of research, where you will spend most of your time getting to know what kind of UI your user is already familiar with and the UI/UX that might work locally may not necessarily work globally. Finally, the tech stack you use to build your products needs to be well architected. Great ideas and market research most often fail due to poorly architected tech infrastructure. It is imperative to not only design a good stack but to also keep evolving it as your product scales, something that works for the beta stage might not necessarily work for a scale of 100,000 and it might need to be evolved further when you hit one million.  ORF: As a serial entrepreneur focused on delivering a stellar product experience to all Streak users, what would you recommend to those who are contemplating or just starting out on an entrepreneurial journey? JM: First, make sure entrepreneurship is for you. Entrepreneurship is not a career path, it is a mission to solve real world problems to make this world a better place for all of us to live in. It requires dedication, will, determination and zeal to overcome every obstacle that may come your way. Therefore, picking a problem that you are passionate about and creates a huge impact in society is half the battle. Second, learn from the mistakes of other entrepreneurs. In the last three decades, we have seen technology startups rise, boom and also fail. There are lessons to be learnt in every startup that you see around you, from the ones that have succeeded as well as failed. If you are contemplating a startup of your own, you have abundant resources at your disposal to learn from. Third, discover your unique strength. The foundation of a great startup is the team you start out with. Ideas are dime a dozen but only companies that can execute them well will see the light of day. It is imperative to discover your unique strength and then find team members with complementary skillsets who are equally passionate about your mission.
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