Bill and Melinda Gates foundation gets $1 lakh grant from Pune startup

Pune-based startup Serv’d, which aims to bring about financial inclusion in the unorganised sector has been given a $100,000-grant from Digital Financial Service (DFS) Lab, a fintech accelerator funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. DFS Lab identifies startups that have the potential to create an impact across a large number of households in Sub-Saharan Africa, South and Southeast Asia.

According to the report, Jatin Agarwal, CEO, Serv’d the company was one among four that had been selected from among 700 applicants worldwide at a recently concluded bootcamp in Tanzania. The funds would be used towards developing tech for new roles as well as driving activation for the existing product.

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The startup has been set up by Agarwal, along with Tarun Sharma and Suhas Kelkar, CEO and CTO respectively, at IT services firm BMC Software, with an initial investment of about Rs 3.5 crore. Agarwal said that the company was in the process of raising another round from friends & family of $3 million.

Serv’d is a peer-to-peer platform, a house management system, that allows users to manage payments and terms of contract for workers in the unorganised segment, like domestic workers, drivers, construction workers etc — people who typically have been a part of the cash economy.

According to Agarwal, India has an unorganised workforce of 450 million, of which about 10 million reside in urban areas. This is the segment that he intends to cater to. A user can update the terms of service and details of the worker on the platform, which the Serv’d team would independently verify with the worker.

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The company was scheduled to launch operations in early 2017, but the demonetisation drive was a trigger to launch sooner than planned. Agarwal said that they already had a 45-member team – similar to those marketing consumer products – in place, which was reaching out to people in the unorganised sector and explaining how Serv’d works.

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