Here's How Startups Pivoted To Thrive During COVID
Entrepreneur's New Year’s Guide
You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
The pandemic has affected work processes of every individual and changed the perception of business. Startups are now setting new goals and these are dependent on sectors in which they operate.
In a sector like real estate, the onset of pandemic was a real setback for entrepreneurs due to the inability of checking property physically. Besides, reaching out to prospective clients way was a major challenge. The COVID-19 phase extended beyond the expected one-two months and the real estate sector witnessed over 50 per cent fall in revenue. Amit Aggarwal, co-founder and CEO, NoBroker.com, highlighted that innovating operations by lining up meetings over the video call became the prime agenda for his team. This in turn played a pivotal role in decision-making for customers through interaction on video call.
Even though Summer, the peak season for realty, was hit by the pandemic, it regained the momentum as the unlock process began in August. According to Aggarwal, it was a V-shape recovery for his organization, wherein online search for clients and elimination of brokerage were the basic changes in the work flow. At the same time, long-term enterprise customers marked up to 75 per cent of userbase and support from partners in the challenging times to make co-working spaces productive.
Strategic implementation towards sustainable work environment
In addition, the factors which seemed to be irrelevant such as allocation of capital and profitability became resourceful for Awfis. Amit Ramani, founder and CEO of Awfis, stated that stability has been attained in the business and his team is adding more seats rather than facing exits. According to him, location, choice and time became the key changes in the customer behaviour due to COVID-19. Work near home and office at home were the primary pivots adopted by Ramani’s team. Secondly, office care was an initiative which was aimed at offering assurance to customers about safe operations being handled by branded players.
Apart from this, reduction of footprints through partnering with enterprise customers enabled the team to operate efficiently and efficiently. In short, launching new services and managing the network of clients led to increased revenue for the organization. As a result, recovery mode was fuelled through these initiatives.
Transition in the business flow in the post COVID phase
In the pre-COVID segment, conventional space was considerably favoured by the people. Co-working or flex space counted for a very small portion in their portfolio. At present, the market which was near to 60 million square feet in 2019 is expected to change to 20 million square feet due to the pandemic, this year. The co-working space is estimated to grow in the next 2-3 years to 125 million square feet. The paradigm shift in the customer behaviour is moving from capital intensive conventional space to operating expense-oriented flex space. It is clearly a demonetisation phase for the fintech industry and things are no different for co-working companies in the real estate sector.
Scope of difference in operations post COVID
In the perishable fresh produce space, the biggest challenge was the non-linear increase in the demand. Uncertainty was something which persisted due to COVID in terms of operations and deliverables. Avinash BR, co-founder, Clover Ventures, elaborated that expansion of operations by involving people from other divisions was the first initiative towards smooth functioning. He further indicated about the bifurcation of infrastructure through two separate warehouses to address requirements of customers. Output, delivery, meeting customer demand and maintaining hygiene in the supply were some of the important factors which were emphasized altogether after the widespread of pandemic. Avinash claimed the business has grown up to 6-8 times and the prevalent issues have been addressed by and large.
Startup pivot: In the pipeline or a quick decision?
It was definitely a vision for many entrepreneurs like Avinash who wanted to expand gradually. For him, the pandemic gave purpose to his organization’s mission, yet, the primary objective was to ensure continuity in operations. Eventually, the core of the supply chain was already built and hygienic operations existed much before in the mechanism of Clover Ventures. Serving end customers was always a part of plan, but, COVID accelerated the plan of Avinash’s team.
From the perspective of realty operations, the deals stopped being initiated when the absolute lockdown got implemented. Nevertheless, the deals which were already in the pipeline got executed during the pandemic certainly.
Future of the current changes in the business
Customer behaviour in the real estate sector has changed for forever considering the business performance over the past 7 months. The realty segment will be counted upon as a flexible option, hence, the developer and the landlord community need to adapt according to the change. Ramani opines, “From the consumer standpoint, most of the companies have been productive during the last seven months, the way they were through central location visit process.” However, the office structure is going to be back in operation to continue the smooth flow of the business.