Conversation on Alpha Girls (2 of 2)
On September 13, 2020, IBPW hosted the second of a two-part event: a conversation based on Julian Guthrie’s 2019 book Alpha Girls: The Women Upstarts Who Took on Silicon Valley's Male Culture and Made the Deals of a Lifetime. This event was moderated by Shyla Sohoni and featured guest speaker Anu Shukla, a serial entrepreneur in the Bay area with over 25 years experience. Anu has successfully exited two companies with a combined enterprise value of more than $600 million. In the discussion, Anu discussed her early life and career, her aspirations and motivations, her low and high points, and much more. Below is a synopsis of the enlightening and entertaining conversation between them which was thought provoking and at times humorous.
Anu had a wonderful upbringing. Being an army brat, she traveled a lot with family. Her favorite form of entertainment growing up was visiting libraries, and this made her a lifelong voracious reader. Her father motivated her to excel academically by offering to give her ten rupees each time she secured the first rank in her class. This soon became old as she never failed to top her class and her father had to come up with other ways to motivate her:) After graduating from St. Stephen’s College at age 19, she came to the US for a visit and ended up at Youngstown University where she got her MBA on a full ride scholarship. During her time at Youngstown, she met many influential people who continued to mentor her throughout her career. In 2005, she was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award from her Alma Mater and was conferred with an honorary Doctorate degree in 2008
True to the moniker “Serial Entrepreneur,” Anu has a very active mind and is constantly thinking of new ideas. Some of her areas of interest are fintech, improved lending, and gaming monetization, but her first love will always be marketing automation. The idea for her first company was not new to her. As a very successful VP of marketing for a software company she had created a system to help her whet sales leads and qualify them. She decided to productize this concept in her first company Rubric.,Inc., funded by Menlo Ventures. Alpha Girl Sonja Hoel, who was then at Menlo Ventures, was one of her mentors and helped her pitch to the partners.
Advice for the audience
While some of the entrepreneurs create a product first and then try to find an application, Anu approaches this differently. She starts with a problem and tries to find a solution. Her motto is: Apply pure technology to solve common problems. Anu had a lot of other advice based on her experience as an immigrant, an entrepreneur and a venture capital partner
Next for Anu
Anu is a true serial entrepreneur. At any given point, she is working with many companies across multiple fields.. She likes her situation right now, as she has the freedom to get involved with new entrepreneurs, spend time with her kids, and contemplate writing a book. Now that she is on the giving side of the funding equation at Elevate. vc, she knows it will help tremendously to develop a relationship with the entrepreneurs and guide them to success. She would like to invest more in women and other minorities and direct money to “under-served” groups until we reach 50% entrenchment by women. One of the best things she has done for herself is to get a dog as walking her dog is a huge stress reliever. It also helps her to keep good health. She would like to travel more with her family and she may write a memoir someday!