Upstox Success Story - How it Empowers Investments with Zero Brokerage Model?

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Investing is not just limited to banks and insurance companies today. With the emergence of stocks and equity trading platforms, investment is now broad and brings a wide range of opportunities for stockbrokers, retail investors, traders, companies, and other individuals. Besides, the stock-trading, and broking, which was previously done in offices by putting pen to paper have now been digitalized. This certainly contributed to the integration of the whole system and made it convenient, but with this stockbroking has turned highly competitive too. However, with the help of fintech companies like Upstox, securities brokerage, and stock trading services are becoming easier than ever

Based in Mumbai, Maharashtra, Upstox is a fintech company that presents a host of innovative investment options for companies and individual users. Furthermore, Upstox strives to empower the traders and end-users with its all-new zero brokerage model.

Upstox has turned unicorn on November 25, 2021, following a funding round led by Tiger Global Management. It is now the 40th unicorn startup of India in 2021.

Read more about Upstox Company Highlights, Industry, Upstox Founders, Name, Tagline and Logo, Startup Story, Partnerships, Business and Revenue Model, Mission and Vision, Funding and Investors, Competitors, Future Plans, and more.

Upstox - Company Highlights

  • Startup Name-Upstox
  • Sub-Organization of-RKSV
  • Also Known As-RKSV Securities
  • Headquarters-Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
  • Industry-Financial Services, Fintech, Trading Platform
  • Founders-Raghu Kumar, Ravi Kumar, Kavitha Subramanian and Shrinivas Viswanath
  • Founded -2009
  • Current CEO-Ravi Kumar
  • Funding-$54 million (November 2021)
  • Revenues-$48.88 million (Rs 385.64 crore in FY21)
  • Total Valuation-$3.4+ billion (November 2021)

About Upstox and How it Works?

Upstox is a financial technology firm that provides consumers with unique investing choices. With its tech-driven, fast, and simplified stock trading and securities brokerage services, Upstox aims to empower its clients to make wiser investment decisions with utmost convenience.

Furthermore, the company also promises a zero brokerage model that is designed to leverage prudent use of design and technology, which would help significantly cut costs for the company and would also greatly benefit the end-users. Headquartered in Mumbai, Upstox is driven by the aim of disrupting the brokerage industry by bringing down the costs accrued by the online trading platforms, thereby making stock trading, efficient, and cost-effective.

The Upstox services are primarily based on:

  • Stocks
  • IPOs
  • Mutual Funds
  • Futures and Options
  • Upstox charges

When speaking about the Upstox charges, it is important to mention that Upstox doesn't charge anything from its customers. "Flat fees, no hidden charges", says Upstox, where the startup charges 0 account maintenance charges and 0 commissions, while only charging Rs 20 brokerage, on Equity, F&O, commodity and currency orders.    

Upstox - Name, Logo, and Tagline

RKSV Securities India Pvt. Ltd., a proprietary trading business focused on specialized customers, was formed in 2009. It was in early 2012 that the company started extending retail broking services. The company rebranded these services to Upstox later in May 2016.

Company Logo of Upstox

Upstox's latest campaign, launched in 2021, reads as "Start Karke Dekho."

Upstox - Founders

Raghu Kumar, Ravi Kumar, Kavitha Subramanian and Shrinivas Viswanath are the Upstox founders, who founded the company in 2010.

Ravi Kumar

Ravi is a co-founder and member of the Upstox Board of Directors. He graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. At Upstox, Ravi is in charge of product development and investor relations. Before joining Upstox, he worked on his own money with his brother Raghu, devising different automated trading techniques to trade on foreign currency markets throughout the world. Ravi has also worked in engineering and business development at Thinkorswim Trading Platform, the flagship product of TD Ameritrade. Ravi Kumar is also known as the founder of RK Trading Partnership and RKSV.

Raghu Kumar

Raghu Kumar is the brother of Ravi Kumar and the Co-founder of both RKSV and Upstox, who was at the core of the company right from its inception. Raghu with his brother and Shrini founded RKSV, which eventually became the base of a retail brokerage platform. They opened RKSV to the retail public finally in 2012 and also rebranded that segment of the company to Upstox.  

Shrinivas Vishwanath

Shrinivas is another co-founder and a member of the Upstox Board of Directors. Shrinivas is in charge of technology at Upstox. He graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a bachelor's degree in science. He's a high-frequency trading specialist who's spent a lot of time in the field of automated trading developing low-latency, highly scalable systems. Shrini worked at Citibank in different managerial positions before co-founding Upstox. Shrinivas also served as the co-founder of RKSV.

Raghu Kumar, Ravi Kumar and Shrinivas Vishwanath - Founders of Upstox (From left to right)

Raghu Kumar, Ravi Kumar and Shrinivas Vishwanath - Founders of Upstox (From left to right)

Kavitha Subramanian

Kavitha has been serving as the co-founder of Upstox since October 2016. She is responsible for Upstox's growth, strategy, finance, and customer experience at Upstox. Kavitha has a B.Tech and M.Tech in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, as well as an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Before joining Upstox, Kavitha worked as the Associate Director at Leapfrog Investments and an Investment Principal at Actis Investments. Furthermore, she also worked for McKinsey and Co. as a Business Analyst and for SKS Microfinance as the AVP of Business Development.

Upstox - Startup Story

The brothers, Ravi and Raghu Kumar always have a knack for stocks and trading. Ravi had a small account since his school days and Raghu joined him while he was in college. They traded throughout and recollected that though trading was fun in the traditional way on a desktop, algorithmic trading got their attention quite early in the game. Soon after they realised their passion and came to India and formed RKSV.

Though they continued running algorithmic trading strategies, establishing a retail brokerage firm was their sole aim. This was finally materialised when in 2012 RKSV successfully forayed into the retail broking industry and was opened to the retail public. The company was rebranded to Upstox in May 2016.      

Beginning its adventure in 2009, Upstox is now ranked in the top five brokerage houses in India, as well as the second-largest discount broker in terms of active clients.

Upstox is a 100% online broker that specializes in equity, derivatives, currency, commodities, mutual funds, initial public offerings (IPOs), GSec, and bonds.

Upstox - Mission and Vision

Upstox's mission statement says, "At Upstox, we believe that the quality of the team determines the quality of the product. Hard work, honest effort, and sincerity are the traits we value."

Upstox was established with the objective of making financial investing simple, fair, and cheap for all Indian investors.

Upstox - Partnership

Mr Brijesh Patel, Chairman, IPL, said  "We are pleased to have Upstox on board as an official partner of the Indian Premier League 2021. As one of the most-watched cricket leagues in India, IPL along with Upstox, one of India’s fastest-growing digital-trading platforms, can create a huge impact on the audience, especially the millions of Indian youth who are financially independent and looking for more options to manage their portfolios."

The Governing Council of the Indian Premier League (IPL GC) has named Upstox, one of India's biggest and fastest-growing digital brokerage businesses, as an official partner for the 2021 season, which will begin on April 9th. This is a multi-year collaboration.

Commenting on the partnership, Mr. Ravi Kumar, Co-founder & CEO, Upstox said "We are thrilled to partner with BCCI for IPL 2021. In India, Cricket is more than just a sport. It is an important part of our culture and social life, with a huge fan-following, especially by the millennials. IPL has paved a bold new direction to Indian cricket in the last decade just like Upstox, which is revolutionizing finance in India. This is what sparks a natural connection between both the brands. With this integration of sports and finance, we intend to spread financial awareness across the country."

For the first time in IPL history, a brand from the Stock and Mutual Fund industry will be collaborating with the general public to raise awareness of this sector.

Upstox - Business Model

It is not free to trade stocks on the stock exchanges. You must pay a commission to the broker as well as a modest fee for the actual transaction. The brokerage commission is usually calculated as a percentage of the turnover, or the entire value of the deal. Upstox doesn't follow the traditional model, instead, it charges flat rates, resulting in considerable cost savings. This is why Upstox is a brokerage industry disruptor. Upstox believes in charging zero commission, whether it's a flat price per transaction or a flat fee per month. As a result, the consumer is able to save more money.

Is this, however, a sign that the Upstox brokerage business isn't profitable? No.

Upstox devised a novel business plan to implement its zero brokerage charge concept: an online-only company model.

Upstox has one central operating location, which is the Sunshine Tower in Lower Parel, Mumbai, whereas other brokerage companies have hundreds, if not thousands, of offices around the country. As a result, its operating costs are kept low and efficient.

Upstox - Revenue and Growth

In FY20, Upstox increased its yearly revenue by 99.6% to roughly Rs 124.9 crore. According to data from the National Stock Exchange (NSE), Upstox has the second-highest number of active users among all stockbrokers, with over 1.85 million active clients. Upstox earned 80.7% of its revenue from brokerage and associated services fees charged to customers on its platform, according to the data. The operating revenue, which was earlier registered at Rs 124.9 crore in FY20, increased by over 200% to become Rs 385.64 crore in FY21.  

Upstox Expenses

The share trading platform launched by RKSV Securities saw significant growth, but it came at a cost. During FY20, the Tiger Global-backed business grew its size of operations by 2.01 times, while its yearly spending climbed by 3.11 times to over Rs 187 crore.

Employee benefits expenditures increased 2.5X to Rs 32.4 crore in FY20, up from Rs 13.09 crore in FY19. Directors' salary costs accounted for 25% of these expenses and increased by 3.7X during the same time period. Upstox's advertising and promotion spending increased by 6.6 times to Rs 47 crore in FY20, compared to only Rs 7.1 crore in FY19. The Board of Control for Cricket in India has also inked a two-year sponsorship contract with Upstox to become an official partner of the Indian Premier League. According to reports, the contract will cost the firm Rs 45 crore each year. The Upstox operating expenses increased by 170% to become Rs 497.32 crore in FY21.

The loss of Upstox increased to Rs 71.67 crore in FY21 from Rs 37.98 crore in losses in FY20.

Upstox Financials FY19-FY21

Upstox takes pride in the fact that more than 80% of its customers are from the Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities of India. The Co-founder of Upstox, Shrini Viswanath mentioned that the increased penetration of high-speed internet, smartphones and rising digitalisation takes the credit. Speaking at the Fintech Summit 2022 of Inc42, Viswanath added that while more than 90% of the Upstox customers came from the top 7 cities of India in 2010-11, now the situation has reversed. Some of the key growth highlights of Upstox are:

It enjoys 1 cr+ happy investors

It has an app rating of 4.4+

Upstox - Funding and Investors

Upstox has raised around $54 mn over 3 funding rounds that it has witnessed. The last funding round worth $25 mn, led by Tiger Global Management came in on November 25, 2021, for the company. This round helped Upstox achieve a unicorn valuation, which made Upstox the 40th unicorn among the unicorn startups of India in 2021. The valuation of Upstox was last registered at over $3 bn.

Upstox - Competitors

The top 10 competitors in Upstox's competitive set are -

  • Finvasia Securities
  • Zerodha
  • 5paisa Capital
  • TradingBells
  • Sharekhan
  • Angel Broking
  • Beeline Broking
  • Karvyvalue
  • SAS Online
  • HDFC Securities

Upstox - Challenges Faced

Hackers have compromised security mechanisms at Upstox, the country's second-largest stockbroker by number of users, as of April 2021. About 25 lakh of its clients' KYC and other data were stolen by hackers. Following the data breach, the firm stated on its website that all of its clients' shares and cash were secure and that the security mechanism at its servers had been improved.

Upstox strengthened its systems to the highest levels after the data incident, Kumar stated in his blog post. He claimed the company quickly limited access to the compromised database, installed various security upgrades at all third-party data warehouses, set up real-time, round-the-clock monitoring, and ring-fenced its network. “As a precaution,” Kumar said, “we have also begun a secure password reset using OTP.”

“We want to reassure you that your cash and investments are safe and secure. Kumar said, "Funds may only be sent to your connected bank accounts, and your securities are kept by the applicable depositories."

Upstox - Future Plans

As a technology, disruption and evolution are the constants, and the company's co-founders think the next stage in that evolutionary process is to become the country's preferred destination for all banking and finance offerings.

“We want Upstox to be the financial services brand of choice to the millennials across the spectrum. So we are no longer going to talk about just broking, we want to be in financial services,” Kavitha Subramanian, one of the company’s three co-founders, told in an interview.

Upstox's goals are grandiose, with the company aiming to have over 300 million users on the network by the middle of the decade. Instead of poaching from the competition, it intends to do so by focusing on quality.


What does Upstox do?

Upstox is a financial technology firm that provides consumers with unique investing choices. It also offers stock trading and securities brokerage services. The program also allows ordinary investors to trade on the stock market.

Is Upstox an Indian company?

Upstox Limited is a stock brokerage firm based in India.

Who are the Upstox founders or who founded Upstox?

Upstox was founded by Raghu Kumar, Ravi Kumar, and Shrinivas Viswanath in 2009.

How does Upstox make money?

It charges flat rates, resulting in considerable cost savings. This is why Upstox is a brokerage industry disruptor. Upstox believes in charging zero commission, whether it's a flat price per transaction or a flat fee per month.

Which companies do Upstox compete with?

The top 10 competitors in Upstox's competitive set are Finvasia Securities, Zerodha, 5paisa Capital, TradingBells, Sharekhan, Angel Broking, Beeline Broking, Karvyvalue, SAS Online, HDFC Securities.

What is the Upstox revenue?

Upstox has registered Rs 385.64 crore in revenues in FY21.