Business and Marketing Strategist Lloyd Mathias hosted a panel discussion as a part of Social Samosa’s Live property #SamosaTalks on the roadmap for Startups to survive the Coronavirus crisis & emerge successfully.
The panelists included Rahul Agarwalla, Managing Partner, SensAI Ventures; Sanjay Nath, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, Blume Ventures; Ketika Kapoor, Co-Founder & CEO, ProEves; Anshul Sushil, Co-Founder & CEO, Wizikey; and Shashank Murali, Co-Founder & CEO, TapChief.
Kickstarting the conversation, Mathias attempted to understand how life has changed during the last few weeks and the key issues, the start up industry is grappling with.
The panel opined that the initial months – January-February were going great where all things were planned and targets on track. But as soon as the news around COVID-19, began surfacing, the market took a hit.
“We had commitments from our US customers and we were almost 25-30% ahead of our sales target,” Anshul commented. For a company like his which was taking steps to expand and grow, the news came as big hit.
“We are all extremely pro talking to each other in the team. The first few weeks went into putting the system and processes in place. The last two weeks were about speaking to customers and understanding. In today’s times, PR is more relevant as compared to COVID-19 advertising”, he added.
Anshul also thinks that it is a good time to build that trust and stop advertising and marketing completely, instead communicate more.
Meanwhile, Kapoor, echoed similar views. She listed down two business impacts the company faces – first being due to the closure of all daycares, the admissions have faced a setback and that the parents who were at the brink of bookings for March and April sessions have put them on hold.
Secondly, she shared that though there is no fallout of existing clients, it is a gestation period. “One has to bite the bullet and we have also taken the COVID-19 situation in right spite. We have pushed them to go online. Online preschools are the next big thing for us,” she mentioned.
Murali termed March as one of the most interesting months. He added, “The first thing we did as a team was to ensure why it is necessary for these steps to be followed by each of the team members individually. And try and figure out various ways to be productive slowly. March was largely a phase for over-communication and explaining to as many stakeholders”
“We are all in this together,” Nath reiterated. “ Nowadays I get a number of messages from busier people The side of empathy comes out, even more, this time. All stakeholders – right from customers and employees are there with you. We are all going to survive through this and then thrive”.
He also thinks that there is be a silver lining at the end of the tunnel and that self-realization and communication are key.
On the constant panic amidst masses, Agarwalla advised that don’t try to predict when this will get over. “If someone asks me, I say July 14, I don’t know which year. We need to prepare for the as long haul it will make. Instead, during this time- think about how will you restructure even salaries”.
Challenges of Remote Working
Further pointing out the teamwork and challenges in working remotely, Kapoor shared that it’s her team that has taken the onus. “They are coming together in these difficult times and extending support in every way possible.” For her taking employees in confidence and emerge stronger is the way forward.
Where being opportunistic in this situation is a big concern, Nath opined that valuation is not the primary driver and that it is the real-time to reinforce good. “I think quantum of cost cuts in less important”.
On a lighter note, during the rapid-fire, Mathias asked the panel what are the personal objectives they have set for themselves? The experts list down everything from catching up on cooking, reading, household chores to spending time with the loved ones.
To conclude, Mathias pointed out key takeaways:
- To be human. Empathy is the key.
- Importance of communication. Communicate with investors and customers equally whatever it takes to reach.
- Conserving cash recognizing the uncertainly
- Using downtime for personal growth and relook at business models.
“There is going to be a life beyond COVID-19 and for survival, this is what it takes,” he signed off.
Watch the full session here: