In April 2015, IAG partnered with Intel India and India’s Department of Science and Technology (DST) with support from MyGov and the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY). This public-private group built a nationwide accelerator for Indian Makers called the Innovate for Digital India Challenge. The goal was to build social ventures – specifically products and services focused on e-government, e-health, e-finance and agriculture that drive upward social mobility. 1,913 ideas were submitted from across India and 20 teams were selected for the accelerator program.
Aniket Doegar, CEO of Haqdarshak, is an alumni of the Innovate for Digital India Challenge. With IAG’s help, he validated a brilliant, scalable business model. Haqdarshak helps citizens find and sign up for government schemes (grants, training programs, et al) using specially-trained sales representatives (haqdarshaks) who go out into rural villages. What makes the whole enterprise brilliant is that it’s a win-win model. Not only does Haqdarshak help citizens find the assistance they are entitled to, Haqdarshak helps government agencies efficiently find the right citizens to help! That’s a challenge in a country as large and diverse as India. In the final stroke of brilliance for this business model, it creates jobs by employing the haqdarshaks.
It’s been 2 years since we last spoke with Aniket. In that time, he has scaled Haqdarshak into an influential across-India business that has raised over $2 million in capital. Learn more from our interview below.
What is Haqdarshak?
ANIKET: Haqdarshak is a mobile and web technology platform working on delivery of government and non-government schemes to eligible citizens. We digitize the schemes database, use our AI based rules engine algorithm as the platform and deliver the paid services through a network of entrepreneurs on ground. The Haqdarshaks charge the citizens a nominal service fee to screening for eligible schemes and guided assistance for application and submission of forms and make around 4,500-6,000/- INR per month (100 USD per month).
How did you think of this idea? What is your motivation to creating Haqdarshak?
ANIKET: The lack of information on the ground for citizens at the bottom of the pyramid was the key motivation factor to work on this idea. I have worked in communities since 2009-10 working in different fellowships, organizations and non-profits. Citizens end up paying 10x-20x of the government approved fees to touts and agents due to lack of information. Also 90% of the schemes information is not available to the citizens to apply in the first place. If all eligible schemes reach the citizens who really need them, the livelihoods and standard of living can improve considerably with an additional 2000-3000/- per month (40-50 USD) of income coming as direct benefit transfers to the citizens.
How did IAG help you to Launch Haqdarshak?
ANIKET: The rigorous planning and sticking to knowing your customer approach is something that I picked up from IAG – Mark and Andre during the Innovate for Digital India Challenge. Most of the times, the focus tends to be on the product and not on the customer for whom the product is meant. The early shift in my approach towards going to the customer and building around their needs has really helped me scale up very quickly without spending a lot of time and resources in creating extra and unnecessary features in the product.
What is your success story for gaining large VC funding?
ANIKET: Our focus on the citizens and our Haqdarshaks who use our platforms has led us to scale quickly and efficiently. We have also consciously focused our energies and resources on B2B partners in this phase to grow wide and in multiple geographies with limited resources and in limited time. This has led to considerable interest from investors in the product which can potentially impact 750 million people and 250 million families across India. Potentially, this solution can also be taken outside India to economies where similar demographics and scheme delivery service issues are there.
What are your plans for the future?
ANIKET: We want to have 100,000 trained Haqdarshak entrepreneurs across 10 states of India in the next 12-18 months serving 200 million families and generating 2500 million INR (50 mil USD) worth of annual livelihoods. Apart from this we want to enable schemes benefits of over 500 mil USD in the next three years. We are also raising funds to take the platform on android play store so that citizens can download the app and go to the web page and access the platform directly.
At the beginning of this year, Haqdarshak reached $2 million in angel funding. They have also secured several grants and won several awards. They expanded to 10 states and work with over 5,000 initiatives. Each initiative connects the citizens to the government and private sector in a more transparent and empowering way.