The Asia Tech Podcast had the opportunity to speak with Rishi Ramchandani, the Founder of Cafe Cash Flow and its Chief Financial Coach. Rishi was born and raised in Hong Kong, was educated at the university level in the United States and got a job at Merrill Lynch upon graduation in 2007…right before the explosion of the Global Financial Crisis. I was at Citigroup in Tokyo at the time, so I know exactly what that must have felt like. Rishi was on the Portfolio Sales Trading team…which sounded eerily familiar to me as I also did that kind of job for over a decade. When one does that job, you end up dealing with some of the largest institutional investors in the world, including GIC, Temasek, Blackrock, and SSGA. We ended up realizing we knew a lot of the same people as well. This was a great way to start our conversation.
Eventually, Rishi and his wife moved to Singapore in 2018. Rishi got an Entrepreneur Visa and started taking a bottom-up approach to figure out what kind of company he wanted to start. He started participating in hackathons, meeting Venture Capitalists and some of the accelerator programs and generally became part of the startup ecosystem in Singapore. He met a co-Founder and together they started a company called PinAlpha, which essentially employs artificial intelligence and natural language processing to generate fully automated financial analysis. Fundamentally, PinAlpha is a B2B business and Rishi realized that he was more interested in helping individuals learn how to more effectively manage their money that gives a trading edge to hedge funds and other large institutional investors.
Even though PinAlpha was about to get funded, Rishi decided to leave and started working on the platform that would become Cafe Cash Flow. Rishi likens Cafe Cash Flow to a personal trainer for your financial well-being. Rishi believes that money and trust have a complicated relationship. The Cafe idea was built on the premise that the first conversation with a prospective client should be in a relaxed place. Rishi notes that financial coaching is different than financial advising in that a coach is there to enable you to make better financial decisions, not profit from them. There is no conflict of interest because as a coach, one is not restricted to any particular set of products…but is empowered to continuously educate his clients about what is available in the overall market.
I was interested in how this type of business uses technology to scale and Rishi has thought this through as well. think about other platforms that offer either tangible or intangible assets or services at scale and you can begin to get the idea of what Cafe Cash Flow can become.