[TechSparks 2020] Consumers have never been hungrier or more open to change, says AWS’ Puneet Chandok
“Innovation is not about market timing. It is about creating something that fulfills an unmet need,” said Jeremy Gutsche, CEO of Toronto-based accelerator TrendHunter, in his book titled: “Exploiting Chaos: 150 Ways to Spark Innovation During Times of Change”.
The COVID-19 outbreak has brought unprecedented times for humanity and has led to job loss and the shutting down of companies. However, it has also disrupted the business market by ushering in the need for new products and services, especially in the digital segment.
Puneet Chandok, President, India and South Asia at Amazon Internet Services Pvt Ltd, believes this is the right time for aspiring entrepreneurs to start up.
Addressing the audience virtually at the 11th edition of YourStory’s flagship event, TechSparks 2020, Puneet said it is the right time to start up because of the rising numbers of “Trysumers”, meaning consumers who like and are willing to try products and services.
“Given the context around us right now, consumers have never been more hungry or open to change. This has been driven by economic necessity and changes in our lives. Consumers are not only willing to try new products and services, but also switch brands they have been loyal to for years. Rising usage and trying new products and services like never before is driving the real change,” Puneet said.
Puneet Chandok, President, India and South Asia at Amazon Web Services addresses the audience virtually during TechSparks 2020
The right time to scale
Speaking about the shift to digital for scaling up, Puneet said that startups like Cult.fit and Zerodha have scaled up their operations by innovating to meet changing needs amidst the crisis. He said that Cult recorded 1.5 million new users and saw a 25 percent increase in digital revenue, while Zerodha recorded a 70 percent increase in its client base after the COVID-19 outbreak.
Puneet said it is now easier to hire “bar-raising” talent, which is generally a concern for startups. He added that democratisation of access to technology has reduced the cost of starting up. It has also given access to data analytics to people from across the world, giving opportunity to form their own global market.
Speaking about capital, he said, “For anybody thinking about starting up, capital is at the top of their minds. From a funding point of view, although funding in Asia Pacific and Japan saw roughly a 11 percent decline in 2020, India continues to lead with roughly $7.3 billion funding in 2020.”
Puneet said that sectors including ecommerce, fintech, and edtech have gained huge interest from investors this year.
“If we look at the last three quarters, we saw a phenomenal recovery in Q3 with investments standing roughly at $3.1 billion compared to Q2, which saw a dip of around 40-50 percent. So quality funding is completely available today,” he said.
Sharing some learning from Amazon, Puneet advised that innovation requires the ability to experiment a lot and not having to live without the “collateral damage of failures”. He also highlighted that customer patience keeps on changing, leading businesses to take decisions faster.
AWS: Home for startups
Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides on-demand cloud computing platform APIs, easy-to-use infrastructure to individuals, companies, and governments to help them get access to technology tools, technical support, and training, among others, which is needed to help entrepreneurs innovate and start up.
Speaking about supporting startups, Puneet said that AWS’ on-demand infrastructure has zero-upfront costs and client organisations will have to pay only for the resources they use. It also allows innovators to launch and spin off computing resources within minutes, which can generally take weeks or even months if done via physical servers.
“An advantage that startups have with building up with AWS is that they can experiment a lot at small scale and in multiple iterations without risking upfront investment and infrastructure. They can try a lot of experiments, which will increase the likelihood of finding the right idea or pivot or the right direction for scaling up,” he said.
He also explained that with the infrastructure being taken care of, entrepreneurs can focus on building core business value and solve complex problems.
Several notable Indian startups such as Swiggy, Zomato, redBus, Ola, OYO, Razorpay, Unacademy, ixigo, etc., are building their products with AWS.
Watch Puneet Chandok's full keynote address at TechSparks 2020.
TechSparks - YourStory's annual flagship event - has been India's largest and most important technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship summit for over a decade, bringing together entrepreneurs, policymakers, technologists, investors, mentors, and business leaders for stories, conversations, collaborations, and connections that matter. As TechSparks 2020 goes all virtual and global in its 11th edition, we want to thank you for the tremendous support we've received from all of you throughout our journey and give a huge shoutout to our sponsors of TechSparks 2020.