Founder Series: Anshulika Dubey of Wishberry

In the second edition of Crowdfund Vibe’s founder series we speak with Anshulika Dubey, the co-founder and COO of Indian based platform Wishberry, a reward crowdfunding platform for creative artists.  

What motivated you to start a crowdfunding platform?

In a country like India, that is so rich in arts and culture, to see hardly any projects making it big on the international level was something that hurt Priyanka and I deeply. I was always fascinated by the idea of crowdfunding for creativity since the time I had come across Kickstarter while working on a research paper during my stint at Mckinsey. When I came to know that Priyanka, who was my former colleague at McKinsey, had developed Wishberry – a fundraising platform for social causes, I told her about Kickstarter and the need to create a crowdfunding platform for creative artists in India. Creative people in India were forced into conventional jobs because creative pursuits like music, film, dance etc. were only seen as a hobby, not as a full time career that paid the bills.

We realized that entrepreneurs had investors, social causes had NGOs and government grants, however, independent creative artists had no source of funding for their projects. Due to this lack of funding, most of the ideas died at the planning stage. This drove us to create a crowdfunding platform which would specifically focus on raising funds for these creative artists. Today we are the largest and most successful crowdfunding platform for independent creative artists in India. Wishberry boasts a 70% success rate in terms of number of projects achieving 100% or more of their crowdfunding target amount, which is the highest in the industry.

 

Priyanka Agarwal (L) and Anshulika Dubey, cofounders of Wishberry

Priyanka Agarwal (L) and Anshulika Dubey, cofounders of Wishberry

How well known is crowdfunding in your country? What is the coverage on crowdfunding in the traditional media?

Crowdfunding is still at a very nascent stage in India, however, growing at a rapid pace. For instance, Wishberry has witnessed a 100% growth year on year since 2012 in terms of the amount raised by the platform through crowdfunding for projects. It is not just the number of projects which have been increasing every year but also the number of people who are willing to fund these projects. Repeat backers on Wishberry, people who have backed two or more projects in the same year, have been growing at a 75% rate every year. This showcases a growing behavioural change amongst Indians to back and support more and more creative artists.

The traditional media has been extremely keen on covering crowdfunding platforms and projects as long as the stories are interesting and inspiring. The media has also been willing to include the campaign page link, or at least the platform name, in the article with an intent to help the project creator raise funds, a promotional or branded plug which is generally paid for in the Indian media. In terms of numbers, the coverage spread completely depends upon the potential of the story. We have campaigns which have gathered from none to more than 10 media coverage.

 

Do charities and/or social causes use crowdfunding in your country? What about startups? What different things do they want from crowdfunding platform?

Wishberry is only focussed in the creative sector. However, there are quite a few other platforms in the country which operate in the charity space. Startups have been generally opting for the equity crowdfunding model to raise funds. For reward-based platforms, the key to success is innovation, wherein the Indian startups lag behind as compared to other developed markets. Wishberry has been receiving startups for crowdfunding when they are just at the ideation stage. The only ones which have managed to taste success are the ones that have come up with a unique and innovative offering. For instance, we had Loveability which was the first-of-its-kind match-making app for the disabled. Loveability recently changed their name to Inclov and raised their first round of investor funding.

 

Who are the main users of your service?

Wishberry operates in 9 creative genres – Film, Music, Art, Comic, Publishing, Photography, Dance, Product Design and Theatre. Film has been the most successful among all, contributing 45% of the total amount raised by Wishberry till date.

punyaks-animated-film

A scene from Punyakoti, a successfully crowdfunded animated film from Wishberry

 

What is the largest fundraise that has occurred through your platform?

Punyakoti – India’s first Sanskrit animated film successfully raised INR 42 lacs (64,000 USD) in 2015.

 


What is the most interesting project that your platform has funded?

It is difficult to name one as there have been quite a few. We had Goonga Pehelwan which was a documentary on deaf-mute Indian wrestler in Haryana. It ended up winning the National Award, highest prestige for a film maker in the country. Then we had Greenopia wherein a group of students developed a smart gardening kit which would help you water your plants and monitor its well-being using your smartphone from anywhere in the world. There was also Menstrupedia which was a comic book on menstruation. Also Loveability, the World’s first matchmaking mobile app for the differently abled. So many awesome projects.

 

What are the most innovative rewards that projects have offered through your platform?

We have had a range of interesting rewards with authors offering personal sessions to budding writers, film makers inviting aspiring directors and actors on their set, musicians offering the first cut of their album, private screenings, invite premiers, unplugged nights, and credits in the final product, among a variety of others.

 

Where do you see crowdfunding in 5 years time, both in your country & globally?

For us, the future of crowdfunding in India is very promising. We see more and more artists encouraged to take up their talent as a full time profession with the availability of funding through crowdfunding. Striving in this direction, it won’t be long when we see an Indian crowdfunded film winning the Oscars or a crowdfunded music album winning the Grammys. Globally, crowdfunding has already proved it’s point!

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