Founders Series: Shubham Gupta, Co-Founder of Ivory

The founders series takes a deep dive into the journey of Antler portfolio company founders and sheds light on the space they are building in. This week, we spoke to Shubham Gupta, Co-Founder of Ivory. Ivory is an employee engagement platform that harnesses anonymity to create transparency, empower collaboration and capture unheard risks.



The investor backing the world's most driven founders, from day zero to greatness. Enabling thousands of founders every year to launch and scale companies that move the world forward.

Why did you join the Antler Executive program?

I spent over 20 years at Seagate. I was very lucky in my career, as I got promoted and moved roles every 2 years. There was always something new to do and learn - this was extremely enriching and motivating for the first 10-15 years of my career. I started out as an engineer, then got into business development, customer management, product management and product strategy. But there was always this nagging feeling at the back of my head - I wanted to create something more valuable than hard drives. I wanted to make something big.

I've always had an entrepreneurial streak in me, so I was constantly doing things on the side: I was a DJ, I ran an events company, I invested in a restaurant and so on. I did all these things, yet that nagging feeling never went away.

Like most people, I had a lot of ideas and got into this mode about 10 years ago, where I started seeing solutions to common problems and would go "OK you can fix it like this, you can fix it like that". The pressure of money coming in and not being able to quit that job or having enough conviction that I could form a billion-dollar company always stopped me from leaving.

And then one day a friend told me about Antler's executive program where I could experiment till things worked out, so here I am, with my new startup Ivory. We are in really good shape right now with a high degree of confidence that we can make something big happen and give a voice to the voiceless!

Can you tell us a bit about what Ivory is and what it does?

I came into Antler being very fascinated by this challenge within organizations that people were generally unhappy and I wanted to do something about that. As we dug deeper into this and talked to different groups of people, we kind of figured out that one of the biggest reasons why people were unhappy was that they were unable to express themselves in organizations as they feared retribution or judgment. In fact, 81% of people feel that way. That idea gave birth to Ivory, an anonymous corporate discussion platform that allows you to overcome that fear and express ideas, opinions and concerns. Be it about sexual harassment, being overworked or underpaid. You can talk about all of that as well as share ideas that could possibly become really powerful solutions for your company in a very open and honest manner.

How important is it to have the perfect idea?

I feel it is not important at all. The execution is a lot more important. I think it's good to have a sense of what you are passionate about, what you want to focus on in life, but having a particular idea is not really important.

One of the big things with the Antler program is that you come in and realize that the idea or the preconceived notions you had in your head might not actually be true or maybe twenty other people have already thought about it. The key differentiator is alway the hustle and the ability to get things done.


What was the whole founder journey like within Antler?

One of the things I realized at Antler was that having a cofounder was super important. If you're going through a startup journey, the highs are very high, and the lows are very low so you need somebody who can share part of that journey with you especially at your low points.

I think that's one of the best parts of the Antler program. You meet a lot of people who are in the same frame of mind, who all want to do something, and I was super lucky to meet Jamie who was similarly passionate about areas of improving happiness and letting people express themselves, so we got together and gelled really fast!

One of the other things I got to do at Antler was experimenting - almost like speed dating - where I worked with a lot of different people, spoke with as many as I could, built my network, experimented who the right fit would be and through that process I found Jamie. After 6 weeks we came up with the concept around Ivory and the rest is history.


Image of Ivory Co-founder Shubham Gupta and Jamie Choo
Shubham Gupta and Jamie Choo

How did you manage your time juggling between the Program, family and your corporate work?

It was a bit of a challenge -when I came into the program, I had this determination that I wanted to make this work. There were long days that finished at 2:00am sometimes. It took a toll on the friends and family side of my life too, but you've got to put in the work, especially in the early stages. It's not going to be smooth-sailing for anybody but if you're determined, the end results will be worth it. Juggling time effectively early in the program is one of the best ways to prove to yourself that you can do it.

What mental checklist should one go through before deciding to join the Antler program?

Everybody I spoke to has the drive to create a startup and has ideas about what they want to do and that's good! That's just step one. You also need to have resilience and determination to pull through because it's going to be a hard journey.

What should individuals who join the part-time program take into consideration before joining?

You have to have some sort of support structure around you.

You have to be adaptable. If you're coming into a program (or the startup world in general) with very fixed notions about how things are going to be, you're not going to be very successful. In your mind, you have to convince yourself that your idea might be completely useless and you might need to pivot 20 times or that you might need to find a co-founder who's not your perfect match (eg: 60-70% fit) because you'll never get 100%- just like a marriage.

Once you have these things, everything else falls into place.

Shubham and his co-founder Jamie were part of Antler Southeast Asia's Executive cohort. They launched Ivory in 2021.

Applications for the Antler Executive cohort are still open. Antler's executive cohort allows you to start part-time to focus on building your co-founding team and validating a business idea/technology, as you gradually prepare to become a full-time entrepreneur to pitch for Antler's investment.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get the latest news and views from Antler’s global community

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Must-read articles from Antler

Browse our collection of founder stories, industry insights and latest startup successes from Antler Australia

See articles
5 min read
Introducing Canada's Next Big Thing: A blueprint for future entrepreneurs

Exciting news for entrepreneurs ready to leave their mark: We've launched a pivotal initiative that spotlights the diverse opportunities within Canada's thriving industries.

Our report curates pivotal problem statements from Canada's leading tech visionaries, founders, and VCs, offering aspiring entrepreneurs a pathway to impactful innovation.

Discover 20+ big opportunities pinpointed by top Canadian minds, spread across six fast-growing industries. Each challenge is an invitation to create and innovate—leading the way to the future.

We hope it will serve as a roadmap for aspiring founders ready to build tomorrow's solutions today.

5 min read
Invest in women: fast-track progress

Making progress a certainty—our north star goal at Antler—can’t happen if driven and visionary people aren’t firing at all cylinders with the support they need to tackle the pressing problems of our time. We’re marking International Women’s Day by asking women founders and team members in Antler’s global community why women are essential to progress.

5 min read
How to secure venture capital as an underrepresented founder

There is growing recognition that diverse founders and diverse teams generate more innovative solutions, ultimately building stronger businesses in the long run. Read Antler in the UK portfolio director Sarah Finegan's recent article in Startups Magazine, offering 10 tips on securing venture capital as an underrepresented founder.

5 min read
From day zero to greatness: Magnus Grimeland on the Capital Allocators podcast

How can the world tackle the increasingly complex problems of our time? With a new global infrastructure backing the most driven founders. Listen to Antler founder and CEO Magnus Grimeland discuss this—and why we're building Antler—on the Capital Allocators podcast.

5 min read
Antler expands into Queensland, Australia

Antler is charting a new course for innovation by expanding our presence in Australia. We are launching in Queensland and partnering with the Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC).

Supported by the Queensland Government's Queensland Venture Capital Development Fund (QVCDF), the partnership is poised to transform the state's innovation sector. With a focus on bridging the early-stage funding gap, Antler and QIC are committed to attracting and nurturing the nation's top talent, driving forward Queensland's position on the global innovation stage.

5 min read
Bridging startups and industry leaders to drive purposeful innovation

As Jeff Bezos once said: “What’s dangerous is to not evolve.” While most business leaders understand that stagnation is fatal, for a host of reasons established companies often struggle to innovate—purposefully and powerfully.

Antler’s Business Development and Collaborations Group helps global corporates drive innovation excellence through high value-generating collaborations with Antler’s 1,000+ (and growing) global startup portfolio. In our collaboration with Investa, a leading Australian real estate investment manager and developer, we are connecting them to our global community of founders and the cutting-edge solutions they are building.

Read more about the powerful outcomes that happen when ambitious startups and industry leaders come together.

5 min read
The next wave of innovation: 27 industry trends set to define 2024

What will innovation look like as we move deeper into 2024? What are the biggest industry trends that will define the coming year?

We asked our global network of Antler Operators—founders, sector leaders, CxOs, and VPs from companies including Roblox, Airtable, Shopify, Spotify, Affirm, DoorDash, Uber, Hubspot, and more, who offer 1:1 advice to Antler portfolio companies, giving them extra firepower to help fast-track their growth.

5 min read
Antler leads $5.1M pre-seed funding for 37 startups across Southeast Asia

This marks the highest number of pre-seed deals completed in a single round in the region.