March 2020, World Health Organisation declared Covid-19 a global pandemic. Corona virus had reached the shores of almost all major countries across the world. Governments were not prepared for this sudden outbreak. But as its always said – Prevention is better than cure- measures were put in place to prevent the spread. Measures like Social distancing, sanitization and the most courageous but needed of all – Lockdowns. India declared its first lockdown i.e. Lockdown #1 on 25th March 2020.
The situation is unprecedented, something not been experienced since the 1918 Spanish flu. Due to the lockdown- there were immediate concerns about the enthusiastic Start Up ecosystem of India. With a halt in supply, demand, transport and communication– the cog wheels of economies grinded to a halt. Due to the nature of the pandemic, it was but obvious that all project and investments were put on hold. But every cloud has a silver lining – likewise every crisis can teach a lesson.
The lockdown brought about a change in how the societies functioned. Every single person in all countries under lockdown, were spending on things which were only necessary. Every single member of the household, took upon himself various roles to keep the house running. Resources were saved or managed economically- the buck was stretched. Everyone knew the economic impact of the lockdown and moulded themselves for the imminent impact.
What did lockdown teach us?
Modesty, Multi-Tasking & Managing Efficiently
These can be the 3M’s to recovery, as well.
Large organisations- who promise everything under one roof- are giving a re-thought to realign million-dollar projects. For these large organisations, optimization is also a cost. Start-ups, as against large organisations, are small in headcount, have a laser focus on their solution and services, low overheads and most of all dedicated and motivated work minds– ingredients which make an organisation agile and effective.
The lessons learnt from lockdowns- can be put to good use by Start-ups, like:
Cut down on frills
o Coffee house meetings – a strict no no. Implement social distancing, meet online using softwares that enable meetings to be virtually face to face like Webex or Indian home-grown platforms like https://vebinarr.com/Home
o No need for the pool table or the Friday evening pizza chats that usually we use to enjoy in office premises
o Make the most of digital medium. Use aggressive digital marketing campaigns- organic and paid. Reach out to the right persons as economically as possible.
o Improve customer facing services by being prompt and using digital solutions
Smart Task management
o Implement JIRA, Teamwork, Trello for remote collaboration & task management.
o Be a motivator rather than a task master.
Tap into hidden skills
o Programmers can be great UX designers- find the multi skilled person amongst the ranks.
o Toss a real challenge and listen to the creative solutions suggested and award implementations.
Resources are investment
o Rental office spaces – not needed. Remote working – good to go, we will soon see housing societies having co-working spaces / plug and work office spaces as facilities along with club houses and gyms. This was originally a plan of smart city development now we can see its effective use in near future.
o Use funds intelligently, as they are not going to come by easily in the near future.
o Promote solution mind set i.e. Instead ‘What now?’ promote ‘What if!’
o Motivate result orientation- results which are scale-able and secure.
A start up in times of pandemic situation can be a
David & Goliath story
David won, he was smart and agile!
The pandemic gave rise to many opportunities. Recently a lot of security concerns were raised about Zoom app; Inscripts a Mumbai based start-up developed ‘Say Namaste’ an indigenous alternative. Currently in Beta stage – it already boasts of 5 lakh users- a mean feat in itself.
Likewise, many start-ups like Griffyn Robotics http://www.griffyn.io/ developed ventilators under the brand name ‘Shwaas’.
Fideltech technologies – http://www.fideltech.com/, developed AI based localisations solutions, a much-needed service in the near future.
Chennai based startup http://www.rayreachtech.com/ is using computer vision to detect voilations in Covid-19 Situation
To summarise the situation there are tons of examples which have proven that disruptions, though unwelcome, offer opportunities. For start-ups, with proper optimization and deft use of resources, they can be successful making the most of the situation by learnings gained from the lockdown.
May the force be with them.
Let’s stay safe, stay healthy and remain creative.
(Manjula Nairr is the CEO of A Buzz Company. Views expressed in the article are of the author)