OneAssist wants to help you when you lose your wallet, mobile phone or You are in trouble abroad

Launched in July 2011 by Gagan Maini and Subrat Pani, OneAssist Consumer Solutions Private Limited, the company which wants to help you when you have lost your wallet, mobile phone or important documents has landed a contract with HDFC Bank and has plans to reach 1 lakh paid customers in 12 months. The Sequoia backed company says that it will break-even in 3-4 years. In an interview with NextBigWhat, OneAssist’s co-founder Gagan Maini shares more.

Why should one use OneAssist. Blocking a lost debit card or backing up mobile phone data is something everyone can do?

There is only that much one can do in one’s day today life. Dependence on some elements like debit cards that help us carry on with life is so high. If any of it goes missing, it causes a huge amount of disruption. The areas we focus on are where there is too much disruption if you lose any of it. In times ahead, we will look at other products and other areas. Its convenient and everything works with one call.

Currently we have four offerings. They are WalletAssist, MobileAssist, EverydayAssist and TripAssist. These help you to deal with loss of your wallet, mobile phones and documents in India or abroad.

How does it work?

Today, your phone is like your second brain. You first put info on to the phone which has become an important element. While you can have apps that can backup data, you are worried about someone else getting hold of the phone which has personal data. And thats where we come in. We provide 24/7 access from around the world. We would be taking care of your anxieties and worries. Within the country, we can get you a temporary handphone with all your data. Our apps work on Android, Blackberry and Symbian which takes care of a large chunk of the smartphone market. We can protect you against misuse.

If you lose your wallet, we help you block all cards, give you cover up to Rs 1 lakh against card fraud, get you a free replacement of PAN card and Driving License, settle your hotel bills in case of emergency, help you with tickets, and provide cash assistance.

With Docusafe, you can store all your important documents online.

What about Everyday Assist and TripAssist?

With everyday assist, we will help customers in case they lose their wallet, smartphone or even passport. We will help them connect with the Indian consulate if they are traveling abroad and will guide them in between. If required, we will even arrange a foreign language interpreter. TripAssist is for travelers, domestic and international.

What has been the traction so far?

Our core way to get to customers is through partnership. We prefer a B2B2C model. We are tying up with various partners who we could market these. They are in turn offering these services to their customers. We have tied up with HDFC bank and are in the procecss of talking to a couple of other banks as well. We are working with Spice retail to sell our mobile assist product as well everyday assist product. We will also have  some other partners. There are also people who have bought our products online. We haven’t done any marketing as yet. Its just about to take shape so I’ll not be able to put numbers at this time.

Will Indians buy it?

If I go back a few years, to the evolution of card market, or mobile phones it was early days. Now there are 280- 300 mn debit cards in the country. Mobile phones are everywhere. What better way to safeguard it? These are relatively new products, in due course of time the relevance of these products will only increase because they are useful. For instance, when you buy a mobile phone, you will buy a screen guard and a cover for it at a cost. That is only protecting its exteriors. What’s inside is far more important and it makes sense to protect that.

What is your revenue model?

The products work on principle of annuity. Memberships are renewed every year. Because the benefits are there, they haven’t been priced too high. Its just Rs 3-4 per day for the services.

What will be your strategy to achieve 1 lakh users?

In 2013, that’s our target. Partners will be our core channels. Our business will come largely through partners and some through retail. We will continue to invest in customer acquisition and as a business, we’d like to break even in 3-4 years. We raised about $3.5 million from Sequoia.

Since you deal with private information and data, how do you make sure that everything is secure?

Data security is of prime importance to us. Our entire system has been designed with security in mind. We plan to get ISO27001 certified and PCI DSS security for card payments. The data that customer shares is data is that does not compromise security. For example, if we take credit cards, we only take 16 digits and not the entire cvv number and expiry date. We work in a paperless environment and as soon as data hits the system, its all masked. For instance, out of the 16 digits, only 4 are displayed.