Vishnu Teja Chundi MBA2017 and Co-Founder of AssetVaultBy Lauren French
Vishnu Teja Chundi (pictured left) is an MBA2017 student and Co-President of the LBS Entrepreneurship Club. He is also the CEO and Co-Founder of AssetVault, a UK based financial services technology company that we started at the LBS Hackathon 2015. AssetVault is backed by Techstars, one of the world’s leading accelerators.
Hi Vishnu! Could you give us a bit of background about yourself?
Born and raised in India, I graduated with a Masters in Physics and Bachelors in Electronics Engineering from BITS Pilani, India. My first full time role was with Bain & Company, New Delhi where I was part of the Global TMT Practice. I picked up some much needed business acumen here and learnt the value of humility. However, I discovered that consulting was not a career option for me and pursued my interest in technology. I moved to the UK to read for the MPhil in Nanotechnology at Cambridge University. Post Cambridge, I joined Wonga to gain experience of working in a startup environment.
I decided to make a shift from intrapreneurship to entrepreneurship and pursue an MBA from London Business School.
Technology, startups, entrepreneurship and leadership
In your own words, what is AssetVault?
AssetVault allows customers to catalogue, protect and unlock the value of their physical and digital assets.
- Catalogue and record all their physical and digital assets in one place. Digital assets range from financial records (e.g. equities, bank balances, P2P lending, cryptocurrencies etc.) to non-financial records (e.g. birth certificate, educational qualifications etc.) and physical assets include property, vehicles, jewelry, art, wine, and other accessories
- Secure these assets through digital wills and simpler insurance claims and
- Ultimately unlock the value of these assets through advanced AI, intelligent analytics and asset- backed lending
We are in one of the most interesting phases of our lifecycle and are all set to launch our product at the Techstars Demo day on 20 September 2016. In the last 2 weeks alone, we have logged £23 million in assets (and counting!) on our platform. We have also secured a distribution deal with one of the world’s largest banks and are in discussions with other market leaders in reinsurance, media, retail and telecom to launch our product as a B2B2C offering.
Where did the idea for AssetVault come from? What inspired you?
AssetVault was born out of a personal need to solve a large scale problem that everyone has faced at some point in their lives.
My uncle was a successful business man between New Delhi and Dubai but had not catalogued his assets.
At age 55, he had passed away without cataloging his assets and preparing a will. It took the family about six months, after the funeral, to locate and understand the nature of all his assets. Distributing these assets among family members led to dischord and divisions in the family.
My co-founder Farid’s (pictured right) inspiration comes from his father’s story. His father has recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Through the years, Farid’s family has lived all over the world with assets in Canada, UK and the middle east and his dad’s condition has made it difficult for him and the family to monitor and locate assets in different parts of the world.
As we dived deep into finding a solution we realized the enormity and scale of it. Today, for Farid and I, AssetVault is not just a company, but a relentless journey that we have undertaken to provide people with comprehensive protection products and peace of mind.
Have you always been interested in Entrepreneurship? Why?
I had my first tryst with entrepreneurship during my undergrad when I did an exchange at the University of Geneva. My project was about developing a device to implement quantum cryptography. I had an ‘aha moment’ that made me realize that technology products had great potential to solve large scale problems. However, this experience was very academic and I wanted to gain some business experience and hence joined Bain & Company.
I tried starting up after my Cambridge masters but discovered that I needed some more operational experience. I felt the need to get my hands dirty with real work and decided to join a startup. An opportunity at Wonga opened up through my Bain network and I joined them as a product manager when they were approx. 200-member team. I saw Wonga grow to a force of 1000 people and after launching a peer to peer lending product in the UK, I understood how to build a new product within a heavily regulated industry under the aegis of a larger parent company. I directly led cross functional teams across the organization without formal reporting relationships. Armed with product development and management experience, I decided to make the shift from intrapreneurship to entrepreneurship and use the MBA to do so. I wanted to test the validity of my ideas and acquire missing skills and resources that LBS can offer to get closer to the goal of entrepreneurship.
Have you had support from the LBS community? How and who?
The LBS community has been one of the strongest pillars of support in my entrepreneurial journey. We actually tested AssetVault as a prototype at the Fintech Hackathon organized by the E-club seniors (MBA16s). The LBS community has been incredibly helpful: MBA17s, MiM16, SLN16s, Jane Khedair, Erica Hensens, Helen Foley and David Morris.
I discussed my ideas with my study group, stream A, flatmates and the wider MBA2017s. They provided constructive feedback that helped me shape my ideas. In fact, I completely changed the first idea after the first two months of the MBA based on the feedback.
I am also thankful to my professors Michael Bikard, Anna Pavlova, Nader Tavasolli, Simona Botti, John Bates, Jeff Skinner and several others. They took time out of their busy schedules to coach us and give feedback on our product.
All this support is invaluable and I look forward to giving back to the community and to the school as much as I can.
Proudest achievement so far?
My proudest achievement has been building the AssetVault team from scratch and creating employment for talented individuals in Karachi (our dev team) and London.
LBS offers an amazing talent pool to source from. We have hired our first full time employee, Gintare, a MiM 2016. We also have MiM 2016s, Roshini and Jason and an MBA 2018, Joshua as associates on board. Their support has been invaluable and they are all smarter than myself.
One of the founding values of our company is that we do not believe in unpaid work. All the members of our team significantly contribute to our growth. A $120K funding from Techstars allows us to pay salaries to our team and make sure that they grow with the firm. LBS has a Santander scheme that also supports LBS interns at startups.
Next steps, personally and for AssetVault?
Using my time efficiently to complete the MBA and develop AssetVault simultaneously. As the CEO, my priorities are to define the strategy, raise funding and grow our team. As MBA2017, will try to do my best on the courses.
I’m grateful to LBS for the Haas exchange opportunity and I look forward to learning more about entrepreneurship from my time in California. I had come to LBS with the goal of becoming a fin-tech entrepreneur and had the chance to start AssetVault with the support of LBS. I’m building ‘leadership by doing’ skills and would love to share my insights and learn from other budding entrepreneurs in the LBS network.
Thank you Vishnu!