How COVID 19 is Reshaping the Startup Ecosystem
Global disasters like COVID 19 tend to leave a permanent mark on any civilization. The suffering and the loss of life has already affected the political and social economy of the country. Every society is different, how they react to their peculiar vulnerabilities and innovate will define its future in the post COVID era. Some technology-backed businesses in education, agriculture, health, content and essential retail trade are profiting from the sudden demand while sectors like luxury seem to be struggling. Like any other pandemic, this crisis is also catalyzing innovation and redefining the business systems, especially the entrepreneurial ecosystem and entrepreneurship development programme. Though eventually, things are going to be normal, this has been a testing time for various businesses in terms of their sustainability and contribution to future economic growth. So would the business be usual again? Or are we going towards a new and more evolved ecosystem? As time unravels this for us, let’s look at some facets COVID -19 is already reshaping in the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem.
A brave new world calls for innovation
Consumer’s response to the pandemic has already started altering their buying behaviour, though much of it would be going back to normal some changes are here to stay. This has made some sectors the hotspot of innovation. An example would be accelerated innovation in health care, remote care and telemedicine. While few companies have rapidly tweaked their existing tech to fight the pandemic, companies producing consumer goods might have to look at the emotional, economic and psychological drivers of purchase to re-evaluate their innovation and communication strategy. Various government and private investors have launched initiatives which are looking to fund innovations to combat the pandemic, these initiatives might be for the said cause right now but, they will be driving the future growth of innovation and business in multiple sectors.
The rise of Social Entrepreneurshi
The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, sister organization of the World Economic Forum, supports leading social entrepreneurs across the world and currently, India is at the top with 46 social entrepreneurs working with them. This is because the role of Social Innovators and Impact Entrepreneurs is now even more crucial in reshaping the Indian economy and creating impact first solutions, which would be ethical and sustainable. Incubation and mentoring of these social entrepreneurs is essential, not only for the success of their ventures but also for the social change and transformation these enterprises entail for us all. This is where the entrepreneurship college in India and supporting organizations should step in.
Remote working is here to stay
Software giant TCS is already looking at 75% of their workforce working from home by 2025. Despite being the new-age companies, many start-ups have been finicky about the remote working model, but the COVID -19 outbreak made the shift imperative. With various remote work enabling apps and collaboration tech tools, employees have started getting comfortable with online meetings, presentations and even negotiations. The virtual workspace not only saves time and commute expense for the employee; it also helps Start-ups reduce operating costs and broaden the geographical limit for hiring talent. But for the benefits to materialize from remote working, it’s essential to have strong and empathetic leadership in the team.
Digitization will be the new normal
This black swan event has made companies across sectors realize the importance of having a digital model of business. It majorly boosted the demand of OTT platforms and Online education providers (curricular and extracurricular both), it also proved to be a tailwind for Edutech solutions, gaming platforms, fitness apps and more such spaces which are digital. This creates exciting new opportunities for tech companies and ancillary services. Though digitization was the expected course of action for most businesses, the pandemic has forced it to be the immediate important step
A changed outlook of the VC’s
With funding drying up, the early-stage start-ups are already facing an existential crisis and raising funds would be even more difficult for another year to come. Though it’s predicated that India will show positive economic growth by the end of the year, the VC’s have advised the start-ups to prepare for the worst and identify the part of the business which is more profitable and focus on it. Their current action plan is to maintain the start-ups in the portfolio rather than funding new ones. The pandemic is also influencing the way VC’s evaluate business and asses the valuation. Businesses which are protected from such situations would gain impetus for funding.
Months from now, when the business gets the normalcy back, things would be very different. But amid the dark cloud there is always a silver lining; one common thing among companies like Uber, Airbnb, Whatapp, Groupon, Slack was they were all started during depression or just when it was over. Even Indian unicorns like Flipkart, Ola and Paytm were started around the Global financial meltdown of 2008, remember resource scarcity can be a significant driving force of creativity and even pivoting. Companies which will adapt quickly, innovate, take care of their employees and tune their business models to offer solutions for the changing market would be the new heroes. The crisis also demands the ecosystem mentors like entrepreneurship course providers and incubators to be the voice of reason and pave the way for the new generation start-ups.
Share your experience in the comments and let us know how you plan to use this period to your advantage and move forward.