Bangalore: Ganesh Balakrishnan, founder of bamboo-based sneaker brand Flatheads, along with former core team members of MyGate and retired Indian Armed Forces officials, has started a new venture Aurm to democratize and revolutionize bank locker facilities in India.
Ganesh, an alumnus of IIT Bombay and IIM Bangalore, gained widespread recognition for his honesty and undying spirit while pitching on Shark Tank India Season 2. He co-founded Aurm late last year following the acquisition of his previous venture, Flatheads, by the fashion label Styched.
Based out of Bangalore, Aurm’s other co-founders are Suraj HS and Pratap Chandana, the core team members at MyGate, the world’s largest gated community security app.
Aurm’s launch is timely as India emerges as the world’s second-largest consumer of gold after China, with Indian households holding an estimated 22,000-25,000 tonnes of gold and allocating 10-15% of their assets to it.
Despite the expected rise in physical gold purchases, there is a massive gap in demand and supply for bank lockers thus prompting banking regulator the RBI to introduce reforms in 2023 to improve locker security and management.
These concerns have led to a noticeable shift towards the need for private safes that are perceived as more secure and free from the complexities associated with bank lockers.
Aurm aims to solve these burgeoning challenges in the banking locker sector by providing secure, accessible, and automated safe deposit lockers in partnership with banks.
As per industry reports and RBI data, there are about 60 million affluent individuals in the country with valuable possessions like gold and other precious items.
However, only 10% of these households have access to the 63 lakh lockers available with public and private sector banks, thus putting the rest at risk of theft, disasters, and accidents.
Besides, rising real estate costs and rapid digitization are also forcing banks to reduce the expansion of physical branches, which means no additional bank lockers. All these challenges, coupled with bad customer experience with lockers, are giving rise to innovations to solve safety and security with the storage of valuables.
Regarding his new venture, Ganesh Balakrishnan said, “Aurm aims to solve a major problem related to safe and secure storage of valuable items for Indians. At a time when the number of affluent Indians is growing, the banks are overwhelmed with a lack of infrastructure. We at Aurm intend to partner with banks to mitigate this problem by opening modernized and tech-enabled strong rooms closer to consumers.”
Aurm will partner with banks and real estate developers to build and manage these strong rooms in premium gated societies, corporate clusters and bank branches. Aurm will have an advanced robbery response system to prevent theft attempts with technologies like alarms, motion detectors, and direct alerts to authorities. The security and operations aspects of Aurm are led by Ananda Rao Moram, an Indian Air Force veteran and ex-Director of Operations at Delhivery.
Aurm’s lockers feature military-grade security and multi-factor authentication and are heavily insured. Aurm provides insurance up to Rs 25 lakh per locker.
Aurm is currently bootstrapped and is planning to launch its services by the end of February 2024.
Aurm’s service is centered around a fully automated, secure, and user-friendly locker system available 24/7 to bank customers, designed to enhance the security and experience of storing valuables.
Aurm plans to set up locker services in Bangalore, to begin with, and then expand to Hyderabad this year.