[Podcast] How are startups dealing with the COVID-19 situation?

In this special podcast episode, Vivekananda Hallekere of Bounce; Abhiraj Bhal of Urban Company; Suman Gopalan of Freshworks; and Girish Menon of Swiggy talk about how the startup ecosystem in India is responding to the COVID-19 situation.

Our guests today - Vivekananda Hallekere, CEO & Co-founder, Bounce; Abhiraj Bhal, Founder and CEO of Urban Company; Suman Gopalan, Chief HR Officer of Freshworks; and Girish Menon, Head of HR, Swiggy, are representing startups which employ over 10,000 employees.

They share some of the best practices for dealing with the disruption to business operations amidst the COVID-19 situation.

(From L to R) Girish Menon, Head of HR, Swiggy; Suman Gopalan, Chief HR Officer of Freshworks; Vivekananda Hallekere, CEO & Co-founder, Bounce; Abhiraj Bhal, Founder and CEO of Urban Company

Vivek, Abhiraj, Suman, and Girish cover some of the most critical themes for business owners, which include communicating within the organisation and with the customers, prioritising 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 are taking at Bounce to 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, focussed 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 organisations to work from home, they should prioritise 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 organisations 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 organisation’s leadership to over communicate 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 emphasises 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.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

Edited by Megha Reddy


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