A Brave New World for Start-Ups




COVID-19 has brought unprecedented challenges upon the world. The prospects of emergency situations that will occur after COVID-19 are:
  • Vaccination - Vaccination is going to take at least twelve months for being common in the marketplace. 
  • Natural Immunity - Natural immunity is going to take at least two years.
  • No Clear Endpoint - There is an endless journey that we need to face to combat the COVID situation. We have entered a new normal with the advent of COVID-19.
Resilience
So far, founders had to have qualities such as having a growth mindset, being agile, being driven and spirited etc. Now, the biggest quality required is to be resilient. Founders always need to be prepared for a rapidly changing world.

Businesses need to survive and thrive through unfavorable events and prepare themselves with the changing world with a new scenario. There are a lot of adjustments to be made, and one needs to adopt a new lifestyle along with a new model of employment. Start-ups, especially, are going to face great challenges for establishing their business in a totally new environment. Therefore, founders must pursue a few must-have qualities like growth mindset, high spirit ability for conquering the world, surviving and thriving through a crisis, and preparing for the changing world.

Here are a few essential formulas for survival in this critical situation -
  • Conserve cash
  • Curtail Expenses
  • Collect Receivables
The title ‘Brave New World’ to this talk was given for several reasons. The business world is facing several issues after COVID-19 and is going to change forever. Work from home is going to be the mainstream. Most employees are going to adopt work from home policies. It has its own merits and demerits. Lifestyle changes are going to put a great impact on the life of business workers, and the whole workforce.

Business World is going to Change Forever
The health of employees is the number one priority for all start-ups, companies, and organizations due to the pandemic. It is also going to bring many positive changes and will encourage people to adopt a healthy lifestyle. This will make the world digital. Most offices are going to make everything digital at their work. And, new communication models have emerged at the forefront.

Video meet-ups and conferences are going to replace physical meet-ups. Online is something that will remain part of everyday life. Everything is going to be in online mode. Cost management is the first priority. At the time of the pandemic, the cost has to be effectively managed. Work from home is going to get utmost popularity.

Work from Home
At the time of the pandemic, work from home is going to be the mainstream. Decision making is going to face decentralization. Big companies having a large workforce will ask their workers to work from home at their place of comfort and work with their own decisions. Work from home is going to become mainstream due to pandemic (NASSCOM states that 90% of 4.36m work from home).

COVID-19 is going to bring some major changes in the lifestyle of workers. Due to the gig economy, people will be willing to work at spare times as well as per their own convenience, at their comfy place and with variable costs. Companies will also prefer hiring gig workers, for their pay is a lot more flexible. Consumption patterns are going to change. As more people spend large chunks of their days at home, their consumption pattern will change accordingly.  Employees will have to travel minimally.

Health and Hygiene
As we all know, health is the actual wealth. The first time, employees’ health is going to be focused at the maximum level. More attention will be paid for personal hygiene and health because of COVID-19. Mental well-being of their employees will also become a concern for employers.

Health metrics have to be checked frequently. Other things to be focused are maintaining health records of employees, temperature checks, use of sanitizers, maintaining social distancing, mental well-being, personal health etc.

Digitalize or Die
Businesses should have gone digital years ago. There are around 65 million MSMEs and family businesses in India. The pandemic has all but ensured that they go completely digital, from customer acquisition to bill payment.

GTM Strategy
Businesses need to follow GTM strategy by using online channels at their core. When they adopt online mode, they need to make it strong, adopt a subscription model, and understand the customer’s life journey well.

If, as a founder, you are still operating offline, you need to pivot very quickly in order to sustain your business and thrive in a world that has fundamentally changed over the past few months. A hybrid model, or majorly online model is necessary to compete in the market.

Communication and Collaboration
A communication system in the business world is going to change dramatically. Probable use of online tools, online project management, attitudinal change for work, and lesser physical meetings are going to replace previous communication models.

Cost-Cutting
Businesses are going to adopt cost-cutting policies for surviving in this threatening situation. At first, employees of businesses are going to suffer out of cost-cutting. Companies will start downsizing the teams, restructuring the salary of employees and sharpening the performance orientation. The business expenses are going to be rationalized.

In this ruthless cost cutting regime, make sure you don’t default on statutory payments such as your income tax or other compliance oriented costs. Further, don’t cut costs on core product development, for it is important for your business.

Frugality is the New Reality: A person moving economically can only survive at this crisis. In this new environment, cash is back to being the most important determinant of a successful company. Further, trim and slim companies are the ones that will survive: all redundancies must be let go of.
Consumption is going to escalate at this COVID situation in the following areas - food, entertainment, games, and health. There will be a great demand for actual data. Non-stop travel will be questionable and online meetings will get preference.

Unlocking Opportunities
Large swathes of the population is sitting at home, which means that marketing for firms can become a lot more targeted. This is a huge opportunity for companies, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Go to-market strategies will have to factor in online consumption.

There is a massive opportunity for MSMEs to go digital in every aspect of their operations.
Online education will become the norm globally. Upskilling and reskilling will become necessary across sectors and disciplines, for learning is now border-less. The education industry is going to witness massive changes.

The last generation of baby boomers were born after the second world war. With the pandemic, we may see the emergence of a new generation of consumers. This new generation will perhaps be coined as ‘quarantines’ or ‘coronial cousins’, and will present a whole new wave of consumption and market preferences that will define the years to come.

Q&A
1. What happens if I was in the middle of a fund raise? 
If you are already in the middle of fundraising, don’t stop. If you have a product that gels well with the current climate (e-commerce, health-tech), then certainly go ahead. If your product does not align with the current requirement, pivot to fit the market needs better.

2. What is your take on co-working spaces?
Only time will tell, but I believe the time of large office spaces has ended. Co-working spaces may come up because of this, for teams will rent out individual conference rooms to work.

3. I have recently entered the ed-tech industry and there is a lot of competition. What do I do? 
If you have a unique product, then this is the time to get into the ed-tech space.

4. (There are some questions regarding logistics) 
One of the industries that will certainly see growth is agritech. People will need access to goods and commodities, so the logistics and e-commerce space will also see rapid growth.

5. Will travel and related industries not do good at all? 
In the short term, it is not likely. In the middle term, there  will be travel but under heavy restrictions. In the long term, if things look bleak, the industry won’t recover. But the industry will have to evolve with the times and develop new norms for travel. This will certainly help it survive and grow.

6. Can online shopping platforms work on franchise models, and will it get funded? 
If the business is scalable, then yes, funding is possible.

7. What about manufacturing? 
Manufacturing is frozen as of now. Once the lock down is lifted, things will get better.

8. What about hyperlocal startups? 
Demand for hyperlocal will shoot up, since people are stuck in their homes.

9. What will COVID-19's impact on real estate and transportation be? 
Both industries will take time to recover. Travel will regrow with time and changes.

10. What about the multiplex industry? 
It will take time to recover. Even after recovering, there will be new norms and trends that will have to be followed.

11. Will online voting become a trend? 
Yes.

12. Is it the right time to connect with investors? 
It is always a good time to connect with investors. Never lose touch with them.

13. I have a garment shop. What do I do? 
Move online. Adapt to the changing times.

- 100X.VC Team

Published on: April 6, 2020