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Kalpesh Desai
Kalpesh Desai

Kalpesh Desai

CEO

Agile Financial Technologies

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Company Profile
Agile Financial Technologies was founded in 2008 as a software products company focused on the banking, financial services and insurance sectors. We built our product portfolio using a concerted strategy of acquiring intellectual property from other software companies and completing the product portfolio by building and enhancing the same. Today, Agile FT has a suite of over 10 product groups, branded as belonging to the Agilis suite of products, which cover:

  • Investment Management (Wealth and Funds)

  • Treasury

  • Lending

  • Financial Inclusion

  • BancAssurance

  • Core General Insurance

  • Core Life Insurance

  • Pensions & Annuities

  • Health Insurance

  • Insurance Broking
Agile FT has built a formidable channel practice with over 95% of it’s revenues coming in through channel partners. We now have channel partners in 22 countries and our customer community, which includes some of the largest banks and insurance companies, isspread across 17 countries.
My Role
As CEO, my role takes shape as the enterprise evolves. I am supported by an efficient and dedicated core team that works together on our objectives. Prior to the launch of Agile FT, members of the core team and I were engaged in identifying and evaluating acquisition targets. IP acquisitions were completed between 2007 and 2008 and we finally launched in November 2008. In the initial days, I worked closely with the sales and marketing teams to outlay our strategic initiatives in terms of go-to-market processes – identifying the countries we would target and the partner selection, driving research to analyze data points covering the socio-economical and political landscape in the various geographies, and identifying the risks and opportunities. As we grew and evolved, my role has shifted to looking at tightening our systems and processes. My core team and I drive the deployment of internal systems, which have included our HR, CRM, support and project management systems. Sustenance and repeatability are determined by a foundation of good internal systems and governance.
Relationship with potential investors
Agile FT has been well received by the investor community. As you may be aware, IDG Ventures, a global fund managing over 6.8Bn USD, had invested in our Series-A in 2012. We are in constant touch with potential investors. Communication is key to the investor community and investor relations comes under my direct portfolio. We are very fortunate to have partnered with a very supportive investor group that has helped define who we are.
Difficulties faced
Execution is key and it isn’t sufficient to have a plan or strategy. Effective execution is not possible unless you have effective people and efficient processes. Every product company has to go through a trial by fire when their people and processes are put to test. Ensuring that our product and project teams are led by the right teams and governed by the right processes as we go through various stages of maturity receives our constant focus.
Advice to young entrepreneurs
Do not take things for granted. Do not ever assume anything. As an entrepreneur, you need to first determine that what you are selling has a market, where customers desire to buy what you sell. A good idea is not enough unless someone pays to use it.  We’ve been trained very early on in life that when we fail, we must try again. However, life teaches us differently. If you continue to do the same thing expecting different results, then that’s termed as insanity. Do something different. Another lesson we learn is that when we take a decision we must stand by it. However, there would be no harm in examining at every stage whether the position you have taken is appropriate for the results you seek to achieve. Finally, you need to recognize that the words we utter have significant power. We cannot not communicate. What we articulate is what we bring to reality. The meaning of the communication is the response it produces. Hence, if an instruction that we have issued has not produced the desired result, we would first question whether we articulated that properly rather than identifying faults with the person we gave the instruction to. A successful entrepreneur is one who can demonstrate that he or she can lead from the front.That he or she is there for the team when they falter or fail and ensure that they can bring the ship home to the shore.
Key thoughts about Entrepreneurship
Transparency is key to a relationship between entrepreneurs and investors. It is understandable that most entrepreneurs are die-hard optimists. However, do not hesitate to share bad news immediately. This will help harbor trust and garner support when you need it most. You need to also select your investor/partner carefully. You need to seek a financial partner who would understand your business model and support your initiatives. These are long-term relationships and sufficient due diligence is required at both ends to ensure a durable relationship.
Culture as the Company has Grown
A company is just like a human being. If there is bleeding or a bruise, and if left untreated, it can fester. Recognizing this has been key to our success. We have fostered an open culture, which allows us to course-correct when things go wrong. Though hierarchies do exist to reflect the chain of command and accountability, we are all peers at Agile FT amongst our colleagues. We operate on a first-name basis and everybody is encouraged to speak up and act on bottlenecks. Our team is driven by a charter that was evolved by all the employees together. A couple of years ago, we took days off from work and sat in a closed room with our corporate coach, and evolved what would become the pulse of everything we do. We decided to address our teams as "We, the people", denoting that the enterprise is owned and driven by the people and for the people to achieve a common goal.  We evolved an anthem for Agile FT that goes as follows and defines our culture of being unstoppable, unreasonable champions:
"We, the people, hallmark excellence;
Dwelling in reality, masters of rapport;
Co-ordinated action; Raving Fans;
Explosive profits; Now!"

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