WhatsApp, Instagram, Uber, Slack, as well as Flipkart and Paytm were some of the startup stalwarts that got going the after the last downturn in 08-09. While not even their founders imagined how large they would become, seminal events such as recessions or this pandemic can lead to massive shifts in behaviour which can birth dominant businesses.
Not all products will stick, though – here are some filters.
Is it a fad or will it stay?
People are not going on vacations and they hate being stuck at home. People are buying more online. It’s convenient.
While the pandemic has resulted in several new behaviours, not all of them will continue once the world heals. Is your product something that will be loved even after the pandemic passes?
Products that make life easier and more convenient are likely to stick even once the pandemic passes. Habits that are forced adaptations might die out. For example, the adoption of dishwashers and vacuum cleaners has exploded, seeing mass adoption.
Given the superior experience from these devices, the usage is likely to stay even when normalcy returns.
Are the rails for adoption in place?
The need for an Uber-like service was always there, but not till mobile internet and mass adoption of GPS happened, could the actual service take birth.
Look for situations where the underlying infrastructure for your product is coming into place or is accelerating its adoption. The explosion of online commerce, with the number of customers doubling across most categories, is brilliant if you are starting a D2C (direct-to-consumer) brand.
The mass adoption of digital payments is great if you are building something to solve for authentication and fraud online – an inevitable consequence of a large volume of transactions shifting online.
Are you building for joy?
While the mood across the board can be one of coping with the pandemic -- with job losses and loss of social contact, as human beings, we still look for joy in the every day.
People cannot take vacations, venture out, or make lavish purchases for fear of job security. And yet, the desire for a higher quality of life and for better experiences remains. That cup of gourmet coffee in the morning or a new toy for the kids might be just the treat they are looking for to lift their spirits.
The incredible acceleration of digital means of commerce – be it buying online or paying digitally – in the pandemic is a gift for the aspiring founder. Week after week, more people and small businesses are shifting their lives online.
There is no time like now to get your startup going. In the midst of all the fear and uncertainty, there is plenty of opportunity for the daring entrepreneur. The market size is growing, the costs of customer acquisition are lower. Focus on the customer and design a product that makes their lives a whole lot better than the alternative today.
What a wonderful time to start up.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)