Insights By Accel

How are Startups dealing with the COVID-19 situation?

March 20, 2020
47 Mins

How are Startups dealing with the COVID-19 situation?

Insights By Accel
How are Startups dealing with the COVID-19 situation?
 Mins Read
47 Mins
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by Anand Daniel

This is a special podcast episode that deals with the tough situation that the world is facing today amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and features how the startup ecosystem in India is responding to it.

How are Startups dealing with the COVID-19 situation?

Our guests on the podcast are

  1. Vivekananda Hallekere, CEO & Co-founder of Bounce (two-wheeler scooter sharing solution operating in Bangalore & Hyderabad)
  2. Abhiraj Bhal, Founder and CEO of Urban Company (managed market place for all kinds of home services)
  3. Suman Gopalan, Chief HR Officer of Freshworks (Software-as-a-Service company focused on customer engagement)
  4. Girish Menon, Head of HR, Swiggy (online food ordering and delivery platform)

Podcast Summary

Our guests today, representing startups employing over ten thousand employees, share some of the best practices for dealing with the disruption to business operations amidst the COVID-19 situation.

Vivek, Abhiraj, Suman, and Girish cover some of the most critical themes for business owners which include communicating within the organization and with the customers, prioritizing the health and safety of all stakeholders, planning for business continuity and dealing with challenges that come along the way.

Vivek talks about the measures they’re taking at Bounce deal with diverse operational challenges that come with owning physical assets (shared scooters) on the ground in these times. Abhiraj chimes in with steps they’re taking at Urban Company and Freshworks respectively focused around ensuring the health and safety of employees, solving for business continuity and moving to the new normal of working from home.

All speakers urge that if there’s a possibility of organizations to work from home, they should prioritize the safety of their workers over the business. Cognizant of the scenario where we may have the battle against COVID-19 could be a longer one than we anticipate, Abhiraj calls organizations to start thinking about moving into a new normal and be prepared for a six-month scenario.

Girish Menon from swiggy talks about increasing awareness, acceptance and expediting action can help adapt quicker to the new normal. He shares an inside view into the business continuity plan adopted at Swiggy, including a product-led approach to help ensure the safety of delivery executives as well as customers; for example, they launched a new feature of contactless deliveries.

On dealing with the challenges in rolling out the business continuity plans, Abhiraj endorses the organization’s leadership to overcommunicate in a clinical and thoughtful manner without creating panic. Girish and Suman add laying out guidelines for the new norm of remote working helps ensure that the team’s output is effective. That said, Suman emphasizes the importance of being open to the fact that the environment at home would be different and one should figure out how to make the most of spending more time with family without work getting affected.

On tracking the impact of COVID-19 on the business plan, Vivek and Abhiraj stress on the importance of keeping costs in check to ensure that the business survives this storm, planning for the scenario of this situation having a longer-term impact to your business.

In Abhiraj’s words,
“Continuously realign your plans. Be very nimble, can’t be married to last week’s plan. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best”

To learn more about how these leading startups are dealing with the COVID-19 situation, tune in to the latest episode of the Insights Podcast by Accel

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Notes From The Podcast-

02:04 — Vivek on dealing with business continuity challenges at Bounce

05:48 — Abhiraj on steps taken to continue Urban Company’s business line

10:24 — Suman on the steps they’re taking at Freshworks globally

15:12 — Limiting exposure vs. extreme measure at the cost of losing business

20:45 — Best practices on communicating to customers

21:58 — Girish on educating customers and 2 lakh + delivery executives at scale

27:30 — Dealing with challenges in rolling out Business Continuity Plans for work from home

35:24 — Keeping employee productivity in check

38:40 — Impact of COVID-19 on business plan and runway

In case you found this useful, please share the blog/podcast with your friends who are building startups. It’s our small effort to help as many founders cross this phase of COVID-19.

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Take care all of you and be safe!

Thanks, Shrrinesh Bala for your support on the blogpost

- Anand Daniel

More Podcasts of Abhiraj Bhal:

Untold Seed Stories: First 500 Days of Urban Company

Digging deeper into Fundraising with Abhiraj Bhal from UrbanClap

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