It’s no news that we’re facing a global economic slowdown due to the pandemic. And for most start-ups, the slowdown has been much more brutal. Right at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, over 74% of start-ups began to experience a decline in their revenues. A survey by Startup Genome found that more than 70% of start-ups have terminated their full-time employees. Also, there is an 80% decline in revenues of 16% start-ups. The crisis has weakened the wings of the star-up sectors, though it was poised to soar higher, had everything remained normal.
But, we’re missing the most crucial thing about startups here. Start-ups are born out of grave necessities and crises. The Great Depression itself birthed 50 unicorns in the startup domain. The COVID-19 situation is no exception either. 12% of startups experienced a 10% growth in their revenue streams during the pandemic. Though the macro-figures are not so exciting, some startups created more excellent opportunities for themselves. They simply repurposed their value propositions and decided to solve more relevant problems.
Here are examples of some startups that pulled up their sleeves amidst the tough times and turned the crisis upside down.
Owing to lockdowns across many countries, their rides had declined by more than 75%. Yet, they chose to promote their food-delivery service, which resulted in a 100% increase in orders. Though the main value proposition of Uber was the ride-hailing service, they made a slight shift in their focus and channelised their resources in food deliveries.
- Padcare Labs
Padcare was initially founded as a menstrual waste management startup. But when the pandemic outbreak created enormous demands for disinfection services, they pivoted their offering into UV-C light-based disinfection products. They successfully pivoted their development due to their prior experience in developing UV-based touchless sanitary pad bins.
Despite coming from one of the worst COVID-hit industries – hotel and hospitality services, Fabhotels determined to introduce a new service line. They converted their hotels into safe and sanitised workplaces for BPOs and essential service providers. Their hospitality teams took care of social distancing and other safety norms to enable people to work there productively.
Rapido offered bike and taxi services in Bengaluru, India until the government-imposed lockdown suspended its operations. Soon enough, they pivoted their model into a delivery service for delivering essential items. They joined hands with supermarket chains as delivery partners and thrived through.
Unemployment became the second most significant problem when lockdowns became the norm. Even large corporates could not afford to retain their employees in these times. Meicua, a Brazilian startup, came up with an innovative solution to this problem. They created an employee exchange marketplace, where employers can share their workforce and so the expense of retaining them.
Sweet Farm is an animal sanctuary in California. A part of its revenue came from in-person visits. However, the COVID-19 crisis suspended its operations. To tackle this, its founders formed Goat2Meeting, a startup that would make a goat appear on a business video call to diffuse mundanity and monotony. As weird as it sounds, they have over 300 requests from corporates so far and still counting.
- Digital Jalebi
Digital Jalebi, a growing event management startup, used to solve problems of venue bookings, event logistics, public address equipment etc. But the COVID-19 crisis brought the very concept of organising events to a halt. However, the founders took cognisance of the growing digitisation and turned their startup into a web-based event management platform.
Travel is still globally brought to a halt. And start-ups or companies that facilitated travel have hit rock bottom. To overcome this, a giant like Airbnb decided to pivot its offering and thrive through the tough times. They introduced virtual tours to pilgrimages, virtual classes in exotic cooking, spending time with animals in rescue homes, etc. They leveraged new technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality to tap new markets.
These are just a few examples of startups that stood by their grit and faced the challenge posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Like them, there are many more that did not back down and instead created opportunities to persist. We hope you, too, would choose to persevere and tread the tough times innovatively.
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