McKinsey Q&A: Anshulika

Anshulika Dubey started her career as a research analyst in McKinsey’s knowledge center in Gurugram. After about five years, she left the firm and joined another McKinsey alumnae, Priyanka, to launch, a quickly successful crowdfunding website for creative projects in India. Anshulika was recently recognized for her contributions in finance/venture capital and named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Asia list. We caught up with her to understand how her time at McKinsey influenced her entrepreneurial journey.

McKinsey QA Anshulika
McKinsey QA Anshulika

Interviewer: Did your time at McKinsey influence your ideas for Wishberry?

Anshulika: In 2011, I was working on McKinsey study to understand the impact of social media on the social sector when I came across crowdfunding. It was a new concept at the time, and I was fascinated by the way it was democratizing fundraising in the U.S. Anyone and everyone could contribute to innovation, even in small amounts. Kickstarter excited me the most; it was an extremely popular platform that catered to the creative sector.

I seized the opportunity to replicate it for India. My country is known for its diverse culture. We have a long history of charity for social causes but we don’t have many organizations that financially support or socially validate the arts. Many artists can’t dream big; they have to fund their work with their own money, which is often limited. Wishberry has proven Indians are interested in the creative sector – we’ve connected artists and patrons to support approximately 300 projects that have raised more than a million U.S. dollars.

Interviewer: Did McKinsey help you to develop skills you’ve used to succeed as an entrepreneur?

Anshulika: Yes, definitely. I joined the firm right after I finished college. I learned problem-solving, effective communication techniques and analytical thinking at McKinsey. If I hadn’t had this rigorous and formative training, I can’t imagine how I would’ve scaled my business efficiently or effectively.

We still follow a lot of McKinsey’s principles within Wishberry today. We stress our core values, teach the pyramid principle for presenting information, and use McKinsey’s model for providing developmental feedback. The best people I’ve met so far have been current or former McKinsey colleagues; they genuinely believe the success of a company depends on the personal growth of its people.

Interviewer: You co-founded Wishberry with another McKinsey alumnae. How did you two meet and team up?

Anshulika: Priyanka Agarwal was a business analyst in the New York office. We met briefly on an engagement in 2009, and then she left McKinsey to pursue her own ventures. She started Wishberry as a wedding gift registry website. By 2012, she shifted Wishberry’s focus to crowdfunding for social causes. Around the same time, I was looking into crowdfunding for creative projects; I reached out to her and she was instantly fascinated by the opportunities.

Priyanka asked me to join her on the same day I was moving to McKinsey’s office in Waltham, Massachusetts. Giving up my career at McKinsey felt like a big risk but Priyanka’s excitement for and confidence in this new vision gave me the courage to take the leap of faith.

Interviewer: What advice would you have for anyone attempting this type of startup?

Anshulika: Launching and building a startup is really challenging. You have to be mentally and financially prepared to take risks. You need to be flexible enough to change business models midway and sharp enough to see opportunities. Be prepared to give up work-life balance for a while. Most importantly, cultivate your leadership skills so you can bring together a team that’s as passionate about the venture as you are.

Interviewer: What has surprised you the most about your professional success?

Anshulika: I was an art student in school. I didn’t know I was capable of running a whole business. I didn’t have any formal management or engineering education. I was shocked I had leadership and problem-solving skills inside me.

Interviewer: What does being named to Forbes’ list mean to you?

Anshulika: The best part of being among such a prestigious group of people is seeing how proud it makes my parents. I cherish that the most.

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