Tech Triumph: LENSELL CEO Rusu’s journey to India & beyond

By Indira Laisram
Dr Laura Rusu, founder and CEO of Melbourne-based fintech company LENSELL // Pic supplied

Back from an enriching trip to India, Dr Laura Rusu, founder and CEO of Melbourne-based fintech company LENSELL, is upbeat.

Last February, LENSELL participated in the BigLeap India accelerator program run by Arrow Digital, a 12-month intensive initiative aimed at assisting early-stage tech startups in validating and succeeding in the Indian market. The program comprised three phases, with only three startups advancing to the final Immersion program, of which LENSELL was one.

This February, Rusu completed the program after a three-week stay beginning in late January in the cities of Delhi, Hyderabad, and Bengaluru.

“In each of the cities, we met with startups, government bodies, large corporates, and different parts of the ecosystem. My biggest learning was that there is a big focus on innovation in India currently in all areas, not just in startups. There’s a drive to come up with novel solutions to big problems—a bigger focus, much more than Australia, to be honest,” reflects Rusu.

With an ambition to make LENSELL global, Rusu now aims to expand into India as well. And with India as a growing market, Rusu aims to establish a company branch with the ability to forge partnerships, joint ventures, and other types of collaborations with companies in India.

“We are looking to collaborate with investment platforms, both large and small, where we can integrate some of our solutions. We envision India playing a significant role in our growth,” she says, adding, “We also aim for LENSELL to expand into other markets. While ‘global’ may be ambitious, Asia is certainly on our radar due to its rapid growth.”

Rusu also reveals a special affinity for India, which further fuels her aspiration for expansion into the country. Fifteen years ago, she visited India as a university student to attend a conference in New Delhi. ‘It was a unique experience; I wanted to go again, but life happens. I’ve got the opportunity now, which is great.”

She adds, “I also had a lot of colleagues from whom I learned a lot. I wanted to see how we can take ourselves there.”

The February experience fortified that desire. With T-Hub, a big incubator accelerator, as one of the partners, Rusu says, “Every day was packed with programs and meetings and building connections.”

But the highlight for Rusu was the focus on innovation. “I didn’t expect it to be so big, bigger than Australia or some European countries as well.”

On a lighter note, she says, “Very interesting is also the thing that has not changed in 15 years, which is the traffic. We had fun experiences with autos going everywhere.”

Fortunately for them, the Immersion program was designed not just to be a technical interaction but also a cultural experience. So Rusu had a fair share of fun tasting various foods, wearing a sari, and even attending a wedding in Delhi.

“It’s about getting to know the culture because it’s interconnected with business—understanding how people think and live, which ultimately aids in building stronger connections and advancing business objectives.”

A software engineer and software architect, Rusu worked at IBM Research and in the corporate sector for over 20 years. However, the drive to start her company LENSELL in 2020 came after she identified the gap in finding tools to help locate risks in investments, based on her own experience.

“Of course, there are many applications where you’re often presented with a graph, and there’s a wealth of information available. But I couldn’t find this specific type of planning application anywhere. I thought that if I needed this program, surely others would find it useful too,” she says.

LENSELL, explains Rusu, creates technology to empower both retail and professional investors with data-driven insights, enabling them to make informed decisions.

She is particularly proud of the application, Diversiview—Portfolio Analysis and Optimisation, which focuses on helping investors understand risks, maximise returns, and monitor their investments effectively.

The other two tools LENSELL provides are for extracting financial statement data from annual reports in seconds and exploring the environmental footprint of clients’ investments. “All of this is made possible through Australian-made software that stands out as unique in the market.”

Originally from Romania, Rusu came to Australia 20 years ago for further studies. With a PhD from La Trobe University in Computer Science, she progressed through a career in various industries. With extensive experience in both industry and academia, she served as a lecturer at La Trobe and Monash University. Hence, she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table.

“Starting a business at an older age means you can leverage all your experience, like I did, having worked on various R&D projects in different areas from health to finance and beyond. This exposure gives you diverse perspectives on innovation, helping you identify novel solutions and approaches to doing things differently. However, there’s also a sense of feeling pressed for time to achieve your goals,” she adds with a laugh.

Despite operating in a predominantly male-dominated domain, she finds that people are primarily interested in the benefits and solutions provided, rather than being influenced by gender, as per her observations.

Looking ahead, India is where she has set her sights. For the moment.

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