It was a dewy Saturday morning in Lucknow and we were all geared up to meet a lady whom we have never seen or met before but were keen to meet her and understand her start-up that is based on the crowd-funding model. In India where people do not engage in philanthropy, supporting a crowd-funding platform where the people pay to support several projects without getting anything in return seemed like wishful thinking and highly improbable! We were overwhelmed with questions like why would people pay for anything like this? Why will anyone take the risk to start Wishberry? Buzzing with questions galore we got into a Tete’ a Tete’ session with Anshulika.
Before starting the interview, let me remind you that there is a famous article, “Why the only thing tougher than climbing Mt. Everest is raising the funds for it”, a must read to understand why people are not willing to do any philanthropy.
Conversation with Anshulika
About Anshulika and the story behind Wishberry
I was born and brought up in Lucknow and did my graduation from Miranda college (Delhi University). Post my graduation; I joined McKinsey as an Analyst. One day while I was writing a McKinsey report on the topic ‘Social media in the social sector’ I came across crowd-funding platforms like Crowdrise and Kickstarter. After doing some more research, I discussed this idea with Priyanka Agarwal (co-founder of Wishberry) to start this project in India and we both got started with our idea after one month.
Tell us more about Wishberry and how difficult was it to run this platform initially?
Wishberry is the first crowd-funding platform in India, where people from Arts, Design, Technology, Publishing, Film and video, Food, Travel, and Sports etc. backgrounds can post their projects to get the required amount of money to get started on their projects. We have not faced any problem because we collect databases of Singers, Musicians, and Art lovers and try to connect with them. Somehow they felt that Wishberry is the platform where they can generate a good amount of fan following for their projects without any marketing.
Pre funding and Post funding scenarios at Wishberry
During the bootstrapping phase, we reached out to a team of 3 people and outsourced the technology related work to get a basic website up and running. We started working at Priyanka’s Dad’s office. We borrowed money from our family for our living expenses. Post funding, we have an office as big as a coffee joint. We are looking to have a team of 20 people onboard us by the end of this year. We are also going to launch our mobile app very soon and are looking to hire ambassadors to promote us.
Is there any process that people need to follow in order to submit their campaigns?
1) First, the project must fit into one of Wishberry’s 10 focus areas that are – Arts, Performing Arts, Alternative Culture, Design, Technology, Publishing, Film and video, Food, Travel, and Sports.
2) Every project has to be well-defined in terms of the date and time period (not more than 60 days).
3) Projects must have a prototype or a work-in-progress version to showcase to the investment fraternity. We evaluate this and it takes about 24 hours or so, for us to do this.
4) Once the project is approved, the next step is to create the campaign page with the content, videos and rewards in consultation with Wishberry. We generally advise people to select the time period that matches their funding requirements. Like, for 1-2 lakhs funding, one would require a minimum of 30 days to collect that kind of funding. Similarly, for 5 lakhs it would be close to 45 days and above 5 lakhs it would be a 60-day duration that would be apt to ensure that one is able to generate the required funds. After a final review, Wishberry allows the campaigner to launch his or her campaign on our platform.
Eg: There was a film which had a target to raise 6 lakhs (minimum requirement) but put 9 lakhs for a fixed 60 day’s duration. They achieved their target within 20 days and rest 40 days they raised additional funds!
Now coming to the main point “Funding”, how did you get there?
We were very choosy while selecting our investors. We had made a list of investors and started pitching our idea to them. Finally, one day in one of the events, we met up with Mr. Rajan Anandan (Google India’s MD) and within 5 minutes of hearing our pitch he agreed to invest in our idea. Later on Mr. Sunil Kalra and others also invested in Wishberry. We are extremely lucky to have such investors. Our investors believed in us and in our idea. They all know what will work and what will not. We showed them our idea and the database, a platform where people came in and post their creative work. We pitched our ideas to many people, but very few understood it. We raised funding worth $650,000 (Rs 4 crore) during our seed funding round.
Present stats at Wishberry
We have completed 200+ projects and collected 5 crores funding from 10 thousand backers. Most of the projects come from the Metro cities of India. Wishberry has 9 categories and we plan to include more, depending upon the market scenario. Our average success rate is 70%, which is higher than that of any other international crowd-funding platform.
Any Exit plans?
It depends upon the company’s situation. Every company thinks about an exit post its 6-year plan. Data never lies. If our data shows an increase in profits or numbers in the next 6 years, then our company will go ahead and compete with the biggies in the market. Sometimes, it also depends on the current situation of market and focus of the entrepreneurs. Let’s see what happens with Wishberry (Quips Anshulika, with a smile).
Thank you Anshulika! It was a pleasure having you with us on Entrepreneurs Talk today! We wish you all the best in your future endeavors and hope that Wishberry surely achieves the ranks of success that it rightfully deserves!