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FinCocktail Founder Sayali Rai On Empowering Women To Take Charge Of Their Finances

khushboo sharmakhushboo sharma  |  Jul 22, 2021
FinCocktail Founder Sayali Rai On Empowering Women To Take Charge Of Their Finances

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Sayali Rai left her corporate job in 2019 because of its stuffy, male-dominated environment. As a woman in finance, she kept getting relegated to the background. Sayali knew she had to do something of her own to explore her love for finance. A financial conversation with her girlfriends showed her the way ahead. All she did was ask a simple question—‘how do you manage your money?’ The answers left Sayali disappointed. Most of them had some family member or the other managing their personal finances. That’s when she decided to start FinCocktail, a financial literacy company that demystifies personal finance. Through the platform, the NYU graduate aims to bridge the gender gap when it comes to financial education. 

However, running a financial literacy company isn’t easy. For starters, how do you get people interested when they find finance difficult, boring, and confusing?  Sayali takes an interesting approach—simplify financial gyan, mix it up with interactive social media formats and then tweak it up with millennial trends. For instance, she knows how to educate people about dogecoin by making an informative Instagram reel. The result? It works like a charm. The fact that FinCocktail has already crossed the 100k mark on Instagram in less than a year is proof enough. 

 

 

Sayali Rai

“Finance can be fun,” says Sayali. Just a conversation with her and you’d know she is right. Plus, you will get some pretty neat advice. “Save and invest early and often in your life,” is one of those nuggets. She herself started investing at the age of 18. Through FinCocktail, Sayali wants to give out a simple message—the fact that you are investing is more important than how much you invest. That said, finance is a highly tailored subject and there exists no one-size-fits-all solution. Thus, to help clients with custom-made financial plans, FinCocktail conducts digital webinars and one-on-one sessions.

FinCocktail has definitely managed to start a conversation, however, Sayali is constantly looking at the path ahead. According to her, there is so much that is yet to be done. Presently, she is eyeing schools and colleges as her next goal. In India, financial education isn’t a part of the school curriculum unless we actually opt for Commerce. This is a huge problem given that it is a basic life skill that everyone should be taught. She wants to address this by impacting change at the student level. Sayali’s vision and fresh voice had to be a part of our #POPxoWomenWhoWin series. In a candid conversation with POPxo, she talked about the dearth of financial education in India and why it is the need of the hour. Excerpts below:

What does a typical work day look like for you?

I would say it is more like a typical week. It usually begins with a brainstorming session on Monday. My partner, Niyati and I sit and talk about what content should go out and what we need to stay up to date with. Then there is a lot of ideation that happens based on what we require and what we need to put out on social media. The later half of Monday and Tuesday come in for execution. It is when we shoot for our Insta reel, other social media content, etc. Wednesday and Thursdays are all about planning for the future–the big picture ideas. On Friday we just sit and figure out where we stand so we can take off on Monday again. 

Sayali Rai

What made you leave a corporate job and start your own business?

It was always something that was on my mind. The freedom that you get and the responsibility that you have to take when you do things for yourself is completely unparalleled. I always wanted something for myself. This and the claustrophobic environment that I was working in fuelled the move. It was heavily male-dominated and as a woman in finance, it was very easy to get lost in the background. So both these factors pushed me over the edge and I just decided that I was done. I had to do something for myself and to change the general culture. It is a small step. It is just one company but that is how change happens.  

You started FinCocktail in the lockdown. How did you manage to stay afloat during those trying times?

What happened in 2020 was that suddenly a lot of people were taking interest in personal finance. They were at home. The situation pushed them to take personal finance seriously because they were maybe facing job cuts or serious problems in terms of money. That’s why I decided to start FinCocktail. And how did I manage to stay afloat? There was just me, my phone and my laptop in the beginning. Nothing else. I barely made any expenses until January this year. Starting off with just myself and killing myself to the absolute end was how I managed to stay afloat. 

What was the idea behind FinCocktail?

Some of my closest friends include an architect, a surgeon, one of them works in an amazing real estate company, one of them handles her own advertising agency, and one of them is a very sought-after lawyer. One day, I was sitting with them at home and just happened to ask, ‘You all are so established. What do you do about your money?’ They were like ‘No idea.’ The answers were mostly like ‘My husband does it,’ ‘My father does,’ ‘My brother does it.’ I realised that it was just not acceptable. I think that was the start of FinCocktail as an idea in my head. That is where it really began. I wanted women to get more interested in personal finances. 

What would you say was a turning point in your career?

I don’t think it has come yet. Maybe when I am able to have these discussions at schools or colleges, that would be the turning point of my career. 

Sayali Rai

A mantra you swear by in your professional and personal life?

Persistence–that is something that my mom taught me very early in life. I learned from her that there is no giving up. You have to persist. You have to consistently perform. If you just consistently do your work and you are persistent at something, you will go a long way. That is something that I follow in my personal as well as professional life. 

What are the key skills or qualities that have helped you succeed?

People often say that MBAs do not help you and that it is just a degree but it is really not like that. I have a surprisingly unpopular opinion on this because all my education has brought a lot of structure into my life. And education is not just about that book and that chapter that you read. It is so much more. Some of the skills that I have developed over time are because of my education. One of them is having an open mind, being open to criticism, and accepting that you can be wrong. Another thing is being a little on the analytical side. That helps me in problem-solving. Lastly, I think I talk a lot. It has helped me in having some amazing conversations and coming up with new ideas. 

What would you consider your biggest professional accomplishment so far?

So far FinCocktail would be my biggest professional accomplishment because it began literally just with my computer and now it’s bigger than I ever imagined. When Niyati came on board and decided to be my partner, it became something real, something tangible. And now I think we have taken it to an amazing exponential amazing level. It is insane and I hope it keeps growing. 

What would be your advice to aspiring women entrepreneurs?

Don’t listen to anybody about what you or cannot do. If you think you can–you’re right. If you think, you can’t–you are right. Just go for what you believe in and don’t let anybody change your mind. 

According to you, what would be the three finance management tips that all women should follow?

  1. Save and invest early and often
  2. Talk to your partner about finances. A lot of time communication is lacking in financial decisions and that makes for very poor moves. So make sure you communicate about your finances and what you want as your financial goals. Make it clear.  
  3. Learn something new every day. Spend 5 minutes and read an article. There is always something new happening in the finance space. 

Sayali Rai

How do you relax?

I love going home to my dog. I have this beautiful golden retriever. He is the light of my life. Other than that, it is relaxing and watching Netflix with my husband. 

Can you tell us the three books that changed your life?

Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography–I read it back in college and it was quite revealing in terms of how a great mind thinks. 

Jeffrey Archer’s Shall We Tell the president— I think it is important to have an imagination and fiction helps. 

Morgan Housel’s The Psychology of Money— It is an amazing book and everyone should read it.

Featured Image Courtesy: Sayali Rai