Alum Ventures: Flexing It – Chandrika Pasricha, PGP 1997

Innovative ideas are usually born out of necessity but become game changers and trendsetters when are fuelled by dynamic energy and determination. Chandrika Pasricha founded Flexing It recognizing a need and is now recognized as one of the leading women entrepreneurs of the country. Flexing It is now the largest global platform for flexible talent with a listing of 1,700 companies and 16,000 consultants.

In a exclusive interview we get a sneak-peak into her entrepreneurial journey.

Discipline is choosing between what you want now, and what you want most. Abraham Lincoln

Please tell us something about yourself.

I started my career in 1997 in management consulting with McKinsey & Co, right after finishing my MBA from IIM-Bangalore. It’s been an exciting journey from consulting across continents and sectors to working independently and now founding a venture, Flexing It. I believe the strong foundations and training, the culture of learning from institutions such as St Stephen’s and IIMB, and the focus on quality learned at organisations like McKinsey went a long way in giving me the confidence to become an entrepreneur.

How did you get the idea for Flexing It? What prompted you to get into this space?

I was a management consultant and worked at McKinsey for many years. I reached a stage where I wanted a more flexible career path and started working independently. It was then that I discovered that many people were also on a similar journey and struggled with finding the right projects and networking opportunities. Likewise, I would get requests from clients who were keen to work with more independent talent and had no idea how to go about accessing the right resources. 

These experiences prompted me to take a deeper look at the space, and I realised that there was a lack of awareness and access on both sides, and also that we would see a growing proportion of the professional workforce engaged in non-traditional, non 9-5 structures! 

Flexing It was founded to solve for this and use technology to bring independent consultants together with client projects in a structured and transparent manner.  Since 2014, Flexing It has grown to be Asia’s largest pool of independent vetted consultants for skilled project-based resources to drive business priorities. It connects over 70,000 highly skilled consultants to 3000 organizations worldwide on projects as short as a couple of weeks to several months.

What were the triggers behind leaving your corporate job and starting up?

My first move from the corporate world, was to starting my own independent consulting practice. That was driven by a desire for greater flexibility – especially less travel! – and the greater control on the topics that I worked on. I was particularly interested in issues around Public Health and the Development/Impact space and was able to build a portfolio of clients and assignments that encompassed these as well as my work with corporate clients. 

The trigger to start up was finding a problem I could relate to, understood well and also represented a large opportunity globally. I have always been driven by wanting to have Impact and believed I would do that with Flexing It – the idea came from a genuine problem that I had personally faced and many others did too, and after understanding the space more deeply was convinced would form a mega-trend! As our product and business model has evolved over the last few years, this belief has been strengthened and more than made up for the risks that come with entrepreneurship.

What are the services offered at Flexing It? And what are the benefits of this platform?

Flexing It is a platform that helps organisations access quality independent consultants and experts to drive projects and business priorities. Our community is made up of experienced management talent  – professionals who have chosen to work independently because of the flexibility, career growth and financial opportunity this route offers as opposed to a traditional corporate career.  We find that different segments of professionals are increasingly making this choice, including: 

  • Corporate freelancers, who switch to working independently after a stint in a corporate/consulting career
  • Millennials who prefer to work freelance
  • Parents who want flexibility for a few years
  • Start-up entrepreneurs who take on projects to earn while their ventures scale, and
  • (semi) Retired professionals who are keen to leverage their expertise 

We help our consultant community find quality assignments at credible companies and represent a BD and Marketing engine for them! Consultants in our community also have access to hassle free contracting and payments so they can just focus on their work. They also get access to career development, skill building and networking opportunities.

On the client side, we work with Fortune 500, investment, and top consulting firms, as well as development sector agencies and high growth startups who understand the strategic advantage of tapping top tier talent on a freelance , or short term/project basis.  The professional or high skilled gig economy has seen steady growth in the last couple of years and with COVID-19 the demand for independent talent has accelerated. Companies across sectors are gearing up to leverage white collar freelance talent globally – we help them find, hire and manage the best consultants. 

How has the entrepreneurial journey been for you? What are your key takeaways?

The last several years have been extremely rewarding for me – I have had the opportunity to work on a problem I feel deeply about, had people believe in me, and have delivered real value to our community. A few key takeaways for me personally have been

  • There are more people willing to help you than you think – reach out!
  • Experience and maturity helps in starting and running a business – in particular, you have networks to draw upon 
  • The need to keep moving forward – quick post-mortems are useful but yesterday is over
  • Back yourself –  Customer feedback is key, but you often need to think ahead of your customers, anticipate gaps and future needs and build for them now.

What does it take to make a venture successful. What’s been your mantra?

– Solve a problem that you understand well.

– Focus on delivering quality, consistently

– Focus on users and making sure you are building for repeat vs. one-time use

– Build a team that owns the problem and clients along with you

– Focus on the financial sustainability from the early days of the venture

– Quick decision making vs waiting for the perfect data or analysis

– Learn and grow with your customers – Whatever your vision and plans are for your venture, expect the journey to take twice as long!

How has IIMB been a part of your journey and any memories/ incident you would like to share?

From the beginning of my journey as a founder, I’ve had a close group of founder “buddies” – several of them are batch-mates from IIM Bangalore. They have been an important support system to share ups and downs, bounce ideas off and get advice.

Among some of the best memories from my time at IIMB are the block parties and dancing to the latest tapori music. I also have extremely fond memories of the gobi manchurian we used to get once a week at the mess, and the anda maggi at night!

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