Ishita Anand founded BitGiving, one of India’s leading crowdfunding platform in 2013 with an aim to make fundraising accessible to everyone. Since then it has been a part of many beautiful stories. From raising funds for India Ice Hockey team to compete internationally; to preventing Friendicoes from shutting down; or raising 40 lakhs in 4 hours for #RebuildingChennai during India’s first live crowdfunding on national television. During our tête-à-tête with Ishita, she shared her experience being a GEN Y entrepreneur and managing her board.
Do you think there should be an age barrier while hiring for boards?
I think age is not the right criterion. The composition of the board is dependent on a lot of things – the experience and skills that they are bringing in as well as the insight into the business target audience. I understand the need to quantify them for processes, but there is a need to create some flexibility, especially with the way businesses are growing today.
What kind of dimension do Gen Y board members get?
Gen Y is contributing to boards both with energy and perspectives. We need to be true to the fact that start-ups or businesses run by the Gen Y have a different approach to their growth strategy. They are all about core technology for efficient services, instant gratification for the customers and a flat organisation that works with leaders in each silo. If such approaches are brought in to the bigger businesses – their turn around time with respect to matching the needs of the customer to their offerings should go down drastically.
With a lot many Gen Y entrepreneurs nowadays; what do you think they need to keep in mind while getting people on boards for their start ups?
As Gen Y entrepreneurs, while it’s great to have a vision and understanding for growth, one of the things that is really important to have on your board – either executive or advisory is people who have seen the growth of the company beyond the first 100,000 users or 1 Million revenue mark. There is no substitute for actual experience and when the scaling up is as fast as that, you cannot afford to test, try and build processes from scratch. Board members with hands on experience of running large companies can offer that understanding and then it’s on the entrepreneur to make the process their own. Personally at BitGiving, our advisory board was curated keeping the same in mind – it comprises of people from the payment space, who understand the trends and can predict how the regulations are going to change; people from media who have helped in building some great partnerships for us & entrepreneurs who have seen their company scale up fast – who provide us with the right kind of guidance on how to make sure the company grows smoothly. My idea was to make sure that there was an advisor at our end for each of the silos that exist for our business.
“The Generational Divide” – Do you think it exists and how do you think that impacts board decisions?
I think it’s a two way process. While it’s important for the Gen Y to understand the importance of and respect the experience of Gen X board members, it’s important for the Gen X members to respect the Gen Y’s perspective and vision. As long as there is space for conversation and mutual understanding of who brings what on the table, I don’t see a case where there is a massive divide in the cases of board decisions.
Do you think age senior board members do not take younger counterparts seriously?
I don’t think that is applicable for all cases. As a young CEO I have never come across a case where my board members or anyone I am working with has taken my perspective on the business with less seriousness because of my age. It’s important to build a relationship with your board members, which is built with mutual trust in the abilities of the other. If that doesn’t exist, I think the composition of the board is a problem in itself.