In the first of a series of interviews with women entrepreneurs in India to mark World IP Day 2023, Ms Vidya Rajarao of Fraudopedia talks about protecting the company’s valuable training content, the importance of funding and network support, and how to earn the trust of young people.
Thank you for agreeing to be a part of Aarna’s series on ‘Women in Leadership’. Could you tell us a little about Fraudopedia and where the idea came from?
Fraudopedia aims to build the next generation of fraud fighters in India. The idea originated in the fact that we do not have sufficient fraud fighters in India who are adequately trained in detecting and investigating fraud that occurs in India. Almost all training today in fraud detection and investigation is based on fraud schemes in the US and I believe that it is important to understand and apply cultural attributes of fraud schemes in India.
How did your background help you in founding a company?
I am a Chartered Accountant and a Certified Fraud Examiner with over 25 years of professional experience in combating fraud in India, US, and Europe. In addition, I have recruited and trained several professionals during my career and noticed that familiarity with fraud schemes in India and methods of investigating fraud in India are critical attributes but professionals are not trained in them. Clearly, my extensive experience in detecting, preventing, and investigating fraud helped to visualize the service offerings of Fraudopedia especially, the fraud resilience score and corporate governance score.
What are the aims of Fraudopedia?
Fraudopedia aims to equip young professionals in accounting, law and management and stakeholders like independent directors, executive directors, and company secretaries with tools to prevent, detect and combat fraud. Fraudopedia’s focus is in four key areas:
- Determine the Corporate Governance Score using our proprietary methodology.
- Calculate the Fraud Resilience Score of an entity through an innovative methodology.
- Build capacity through online education and tools.
- And provide customised education and the training required to detect and combat fraud.
How did you come up with the name and logo for Fraudopedia?
Fraudopedia was chosen as the name because the underlying concept is to build a repository of fraud schemes in India – an encyclopaedia of fraud schemes specific to India. The logo depicts the fraud eye in the middle with our tag line ‘’Combating fraud in India”.
How do you develop and protect your assets (eg training resources) from piracy/copying? Have you had any IP infringement problems to deal with?
The Fraudopedia logo, branding and content are protected by copyright. The training content is secure and can only be accessed through a verified email address and after agreeing to certain terms and conditions. The content cannot be downloaded or re-distributed in any form since the copyright belongs to Fraudopedia.
Vendor contracts contain a restriction on the use of such content and clearly state that ownership and copyright of the content vests with Fraudopedia.
This year, World IP Day celebrated Women in IP: what are the challenges for women entrepreneurs in India and how can they be overcome?
Funding is the biggest challenge facing women entrepreneurs. Lack of a network support system is another.
These challenges can be overcome by disseminating knowledge about successful female-led businesses, mentoring and better access to capital.
What advice would you give to any women wanting to start a new business?
It is important for women to have a long-term focus or vision, a good business plan and a team of likeminded professionals who believe in the idea and vision of the business. Women should not hesitate to seek help from professionals especially in setting up a company, securing copyrights etc.
How would you describe your experience with the Indian market especially concerning your sector of business? Has the pandemic impacted your business, if so, how did you deal with it?
The online education sector is going through tumultuous times. With many startups having serious governance issues, companies with good governance practices are viewed with suspicion. Customers are turning their backs on online education. While the onus is on founders to have good governance practices and offer value to customers, it might take a while for them to earn back the trust of younger people, who are open to exploring online education as either the main source or an alternate source for their course work.
The pandemic impacted our business severely and the launch of a suite of online courses was delayed by almost two years. Also, it was difficult to find motivated employees during the pandemic.
Ms. Rajarao is a Chartered Accountant from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and a Certified Fraud Examiner from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, USA, the world’s largest anti-fraud organization. She was the first Indian to be elected to the Board of Regents of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) and she recently served as the Vice-Chair of the ACFE’s Board of Regents.
Ms. Rajarao has over 25 years of experience and expertise in numerous forensic accounting assignments, fraud investigations and regulatory proceedings in India, the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany. These investigations required the reconstruction of complex financial records, electronic data and large data sets of accounting transactions and documents.
Ms. Rajarao is Chair of the Audit Committee and an Independent Director at a fast-growing global engineering organisation headquartered in Pune, India and at a leading FMCG company headquartered in Mumbai, India. Ms. Rajarao was recently nominated as a member of the Technical Advisory Committee of the National Financial Reporting Authority, an independent regulator established to oversee the auditing profession in India.