While the COVID-19 outbreak took the entire world by storm and millions succumbed throughout the world, governments across the globe were forced to order “lock-downs”, leading to the closure of all public movement, except essential services. This led to a severe economic downtime for most industrial sectors, and India saw the largest GDP contraction ever in Q1 (April–June) FY2020–2021 at -24%.
The IT sector was the only sector, which managed to grapple with the changing norms without losing time, and “work-from-home” became the overnight solution. Sectors like Apparel & Textiles, Aviation & Tourism, Building & Construction, Food & Beverage, non-essential Retail, Transport & Logistics, Entertainment, and MSMEs all began to see red. The aviation industry and the hospitality industry literally came down on their knees in Q1/Q2.
But did businesses stop? The answer is NO
While the giants were fighting it out with an enemy, they had no idea how to conquer, young entrepreneurs from across the country rose to the occasion. Stories such as that of Workshaala, which was a flourishing co-working space till COVID-19 hit, are indeed inspirational. When work-from-home diminished the demand for co-working spaces, Workshaala quickly pivoted and gave way to Homescape, which started leasing out their office furniture to people who were on the lookout to set up “home offices”.
Similarly, the security and community management app, MyGate saw the huge opportunity that lay ahead and built an ePass solution to help the State Govt. manage the movement of essential services in 4 days flat!
Another story worth mentioning is that of Hula Global, a garment manufacturing company, which seized the opportunity and pivoted their business to manufacture PPE Kits and N95 masks.
Clearly then, all is not that grim, and startup entrepreneurs needn’t “fall in line” and look for the run-of-the-mill 9-5 jobs to salvage their careers. Definitely not!
Startups need to pay heed to emerging sectors and newfound priorities
A fallout of the COVID-19 outbreak has been the heightened importance of life and hence public healthcare. Therefore, the healthcare sector has opened up new opportunities, and all that smart startup enthusiasts need to do is to tap into these opportunities. Sanitizers, masks, and PPE kits have worn off their novelty – so entrepreneurs need to look for “what can be next”!
Similarly, E-commerce is again a happy place. Door-delivery of groceries, food, medicines, essential items, and even personal documents have become the norm of the day. So, the trick is to look within that space and ask “what more”!
Another sector which is seeing huge transformation is the education sector. Suddenly, teachers and students are interacting online and blackboards have given way to “whiteboards” on Zoom. While several Edtech ventures have come up, the need of the hour is to deep-dive further. In this space alone, a smart entrepreneur should be able to identify multiple customer segments and relook at the “target customer”. Who knows, a new target customer or a new delivery mode might just open up endless new possibilities.
Mental health space is another area which is gaining attention. Staying put within the precincts of their homes for long durations has led to vulnerabilities in people they never knew existed. Newspaper and television reports increasingly cover grim stories on the aftermath of depression. Mental healthcare is again a much-needed but mostly unexplored space as far as entrepreneurship is concerned.
The pandemic even saw top 5-star restaurants showing up on food delivery apps like Swiggy and Zomato, something that was totally unheard of earlier. Doctors have now started showing up for consultations not only on healthcare apps but through their hospital apps as well. The aviation sector is seeing a roll-out of flexibilities that were unimaginable before.
In essence, the mantra is not to give up and not to waste the crisis, but take the pandemic-led challenges as a massive opportunity. Startup entrepreneurs must take a leaf out of these examples and start identifying new trends and niche markets within the emerging sectors such as Healthcare, Logistics, E-commerce, Additive Manufacturing, Tele-Services (Health, Education, Finance), Mental health Guidance and counselling, Blockchain, etc.
The time has come for startups and entrepreneurs to “think within the box”. Only then can they rise like the true Phoenix!
Source: BW Business World