In an interview, Bibhu Prasad Das, CEO of Propelld spoke about the tailored financing solutions which are focused on assisting students to pursue higher education.
Read the complete interview:
TechGraph: Propelld is known for its innovative financing strategy. Could you explain how your platform differs from traditional student loans and what benefits it offers to students seeking higher education?
Bibhu Prasad Das: At Propelld, we consider ourselves a FinTech with a unique focus on the education ecosystem. We leverage the best practices and tools of the financial services industry to make the education ecosystem more efficient.
Education represents one of the most significant expense items for Indian families, and we recognize that it requires specialized attention to ensure optimal outcomes. Moreover, the investment mindset associated with educational expenses necessitates a specialized education-focused FinTech player that approaches educational expenses differently from other costs.
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. We also have an innovative underwriting system that not only looks at traditional credit parameters but also considers academic excellence and the future employability of the student.
Propelld prioritizes students by extending beyond credit scores and valuing potential and academic performance. Our tailored financing solutions, including moratoriums, income share agreements, and study now-pay later options, match diverse educational program structures. With a 100% digital, hassle-free process, flexible payment options, and dedicated support, we remove barriers to financial access.
Propelld has helped many students achieve their educational dreams by removing financial barriers. We also have partnerships with various educational institutions and platforms that trust our services.
TechGraph: One of the key challenges for students pursuing higher education is the financial burden. How does Propelld address this issue and provide affordable financing options for students?
Bibhu Prasad Das: Propelld addresses the financial burden faced by students pursuing higher education by offering affordable and flexible financing options. They provide different types of financing solutions, such as moratoriums, income share agreements, and study-now-pay-later options, which cater to educational programs’ varying structures and outcomes. These options allow students to pay according to their convenience and income potential.
Propelld looks beyond traditional credit scores and evaluates students based on their potential and academic performance, not just their current financial situation. This inclusive approach enables more students to access education financing, regardless of their credit history or income level.
We ensure a supportive experience by offering a streamlined and hassle-free loan process that is fully digital, with flexible repayments and dedicated customer support.
Additionally, we collaborate with educational institutions and platforms to provide scholarships, further supporting students in their educational pursuits. Propelld’s ultimate goal is to democratize access to education by removing financial barriers through our student loan offerings.
TechGraph: Education costs continue to rise, making it increasingly difficult for students to afford college or university. How does Propelld assist students in financing their education and managing educational expenses effectively?
Bibhu Prasad Das: Propelld is a fintech company that provides flexible financing solutions for students pursuing education programs at vetted partner institutions. Propelld extends beyond traditional CIBIL scores to value students based on their learning capabilities and employment potential.
Propelld offers various options for students to repay their loans, such as a moratorium, income share agreement, and study now pay later. Propelld aims to democratize education access by removing financial barriers through private student loans.
TechGraph: Many students face difficulties securing loans due to limited credit history or lack of co-signers. Does Propelld have any provisions to help such students access educational financing? If so, could you elaborate on the process and requirements?
Bibhu Prasad Das: Here’s how Propelld takes care of your education dreams:
We believe in analyzing data with an alternative approach. Unlike traditional methods that solely focus on your current financial situation, we consider your academic performance and potential job outcomes. By understanding your repayment capabilities based on these factors, we can serve a higher number of deserving students who may face financial challenges but have high potential.
We also aim to remove collateral and cosigner requirements. We understand that not everyone has access to such financial securities, which should not hinder your educational aspirations. That’s why our financing solution allows you to pursue your desired courses without collateral or cosigners. Education is an ever-evolving sector, and we recognize the need for personalized financing solutions.
We consider various student segments, course outcomes, and educational institutions’ performance when designing our financial products. For example, we offer financing options that require smaller EMIs during your course and higher EMIs once you secure a job after completing your education. This flexible approach ensures that you can manage your loan repayments even if you don’t have immediate job prospects.
We also understand the importance of collaboration with educational institutions. By involving them in our financing ecosystem, we ensure that the courses offered are value-based and thorough, giving you the most appealing chance to succeed and repay your loan comfortably.
Propelld is committed to supporting your educational journey and making your dreams a reality.
TechGraph: In today’s rapidly evolving job market, students often seek diverse educational opportunities and alternative forms of learning. Does Propelld support financing for non-traditional education paths, such as online courses, coding boot camps, or vocational programs?
Bibhu Prasad Das: Propelld supports financing for non-traditional education paths like online courses, coding boot camps, distance education, and vocational programs because we believe in democratizing access to education and enabling individuals to fulfill their educational dreams. Here are some reasons why Propelld’s vision aligns with supporting alternative forms of learning:
- Firstly, it ensures equal access to diverse educational opportunities, recognizing that not all individuals can or want to pursue traditional degrees.
- Secondly, it acknowledges the changing dynamics of the job market, where skills gained through non-traditional avenues are highly valued by employers.
- Thirdly, it provides flexibility and affordability, catering to the practicality and financial accessibility of online courses and vocational programs.
- Lastly, Propelld acknowledges the importance of personalized learning journeys, empowering students to pursue their unique aspirations and career goals.
Overall, Propelld’s vision to democratize access to education includes supporting alternative forms of learning because we believe that every educational dream deserves to be fulfilled, regardless of the chosen educational path.
TechGraph: Education is a global concern, and access to quality education is essential for socioeconomic development. Does Propelld extend its services beyond a specific geographical area? If yes, how do you ensure equal opportunities for students across different regions?
Bibhu Prasad Das: We are currently funding domestic education. In domestic education, we have no boundaries on the regions we focus on. We are a digital lending platform and don’t operate brick-and-mortar. One of our major advantages is that we focus on improving access.
Most traditional financial institutions have brick-and-mortar structures that limit their service area. But, this scenario is entirely different because of the fintech industry. Fintech platforms provide financing solutions to a larger demographic area. As a result, even students from rural and remote areas have easier access to education financing.
TechGraph: As the landscape of higher education continues to evolve, how does Propelld adapt to emerging trends and the changing needs of students? Are there any upcoming features or initiatives you’d like to share that will further enhance the educational financing experience for students?
Bibhu Prasad Das: Propelld operates as a B2B2C entity, partnering with educational institutes to provide financial products and enhance services for learners. Our customer base comprises institutes and students/parents. Our domain is relatively unexplored, with no significant traditional lending players.
The education sector’s unique risk-return tradeoff and opportunity cost may not appeal to traditional lenders, but Propelld recognizes the potential of this market. Our deep understanding and experience in this space have convinced us that it holds great promise for a large lender capable of taking calculated risks and being adaptable. As education is the first expense for a student, building a relationship here could provide an excellent starting point for a long-term association.
Our competition consists of upstart startups, both horizontal and vertical players, as we operate in a niche market. Horizontal players view education 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 in the near future. This will involve assisting students in rating and reviewing courses and educational services, enabling them to make informed decisions and fostering better connections.