One year of lockdown: Learnings from the pandemic and the road ahead for the Indian entrepreneur ecosystem

The year 2020 was unprecedented, and one that taught us to think on our feet while all else was changing around us due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here, we compile snippets from the Indian startup ecosystem who had valuable lessons to share.
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At 8 pm on March 24, 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a landmark announcement - a nationwide lockdown for 21 days to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the country. The lockdown continued in some form or the other for the next few months, but businesses were never the same. 

For many industries, this was a transformative year. In a sink or swim situation, the entrepreneurial spirit truly came through - with many small, medium and big industries finding their own way to pivot and carve a niche. 

Healthtech, edtech, fintech, OTT, and foodtech are some of the core sectors to grow at an accelerated pace in the digital startup ecosystem. Whereas travel, tourism, hospitality and related sectors took a direct hit from the chaos that was unleashed globally. 

Changes aside, what we did notice was a 360-degree shift in the way entrepreneurs perceived success. From achieving greater maturity and better business models, Indian startups also streamlined revenues and innovations, and as they continue to deal with challenges, Indian startups are playing the role of a catalyst in reviving the country’s economy.

According to YourStory Research’s 2020 Funding Report, Indian startups raised $9.4 billion across 881 deals from around 1,476 active investors in the ecosystem. We have also come across many success stories under YourStory Media’s series Pivot and Persist.

 

As we approach the first anniversary of the unprecedented lockdown, we reached out to entrepreneurs to learn how the year unfolded for them and understand their key learnings from the days gone by for the day ahead. 

Nirav Choksi, Co-founder and CEO, CredAble

What emerged clearly during the pandemic was the need for large corporate anchor buyers to enable credit for their vendor and distribution ecosystems.

The pandemic reinforced the need for large scale credit penetration to SMEs and the path forward is innovation in credit underwriting, product structuring and digitisation backed by technology to enable deep tier financing to the SME sector in India.

Mukesh Kalra, Founder and CEO, ETMoney

Customers can remind you of the category basics more than you can follow them in business – this was our biggest learning from the year that went by.  We had always heard that investors need advice that is human-led, in the absence of which, digital wealth platforms won’t be able to serve their investors well when markets aren’t stable or there is a period of uncertainty. 

 

The Indian retail investors exhibited exactly the opposite behaviour of what has been traditionally their 'so-called' symbolic behaviour – that they exit at lows, and enter at highs. The pandemic proved this long-held belief wrong! Markets witnessed the fastest ever drop of 40 percent in a matter of weeks, and retail investors went on a buying spree. 

 

This started lightening up the Equity Allocations once they nearly saw money doubled in a matter of six months post the March 2020 lows. The behaviour has reinforced one thing well – educate your customers well, contextualise it, and they remember the learning more than you can hope for. 

Amit Nigam, COO and Executive Director of BANKIT

The pandemic taught us to align, adapt and amend businesses as well as reinforce the strategies so as to make the most of the ongoing situation. Another important point, it has taught me to believe in empathy, to trust your employees who have been a constant support for the company to bring the business forward. 

Siddhant Wangdi, Founder and CEO of Meatigo

In the initial phase, people were scared to order for home delivery fearing the risk of viral contamination. However, gradually things took a turn, and people resorted to ordering online. We received numerous calls and requests from our customers to start our operations.

Keeping the gravity of the situation in mind, we took extra care in terms of the safety of our own team and our customers as well as the quality of the products that we delivered.  In fact, this pushed us further to go the extra mile and as a result, we decided to deliver our meat products by renting refrigerated vans instead of bikes.  

It is true that last year was a struggle but one of our biggest learnings from the pandemic is to keep delivering the best service to customers despite crises, and this pushes us to do well too.  

Rohit Garg, Co-Founder and CEO, SmartCoin

The COVID-19 lockdown was a litmus test for digital lending and how we fared in this became an important benchmark. We are enabling credit to the underserved market, the segment most prone to economic shock.

During COVID-19, we noticed that the growth from the Bharat part of the market, which comprises Tier-II and III cities, has been very strong. More than demand, the real challenge is to use sustainable technology for creating the best products which make credit affordable and also build relationships.     

Sourabh Gupta, CEO and Co-founder of vernacular.ai

2020 has been truly transformational for Vernacular.ai, and our customers. As the world transitioned to remote models and digital-first approaches, we embarked on a journey to support the next billion consumers coming online, by introducing conversations in a language that they are comfortable with.

Tapping the local lingo has been both challenging and rewarding. In 2021, we will further advance our voice technology to introduce the future of business-customer engagements, focusing on hyper-personalisation to build all-inclusive digital services for Bharat.” 

Saurabh Jaitly, Co-Founder, Shippigo

Amongst many other things, the pandemic taught businesses to be more frugal. The focus has shifted to becoming more tech-intensive and process-driven while doing away with the redundant time-consuming tasks which require physical intervention – be it related to client onboarding flow, customer support, or how the whole organisation is run.

In the coming years, work from home will again continue to be the new normal. The ecommerce sector will grow manifold and the opportunities will be immense. 

Gaurav Chopra, Founder and CEO, IndiaLends

The lending industry went through a dramatic evolution in the last one year.  While both borrowers and lenders were conservative in the initial months the demand started picking up in the latter half of the year. We, at IndiaLends, received borrowers’ loan applications for newer purposes — to start small businesses, up-skilling courses, gadgets for work-from-home, etc.

Being a marketplace for credit products, we digitised our lending process end-to-end to adhere with the social distancing norms and offered open APIs to banks and NBFCs to lend through our platform. 

Saahil Goel, CEO and Co-founder, Shiprocket

The logistics industry was hit the hardest by the COVID-19 lockdown, making our business crash by about 95 percent. However, as days passed, we aligned ourselves as per what was opened for business in the market, and started focusing on the essential products’ category.

We adapted our processes and offerings to support sellers in every way we could during this tough time, like offering financial incentives, running training programs and mostly by just being there for them in their time of despair.

Nevertheless, 2021 is going to be the year for ecommerce, and Direct to Consumer space as the shift from offline to online is becoming significant among consumers and sellers.

Gaurav Kumar, Co-founder and CPO, OkCredit

Year 2020 was a mixed bag for the digital business solutions industry. On the positive front, increased awareness about the value of such tools brings to business increased receptivity of our digital bookkeeping solutions among small merchants.

Additionally, as a team, we have adapted to remote work culture and successfully shipped out new products and experiments aimed at solving the unique problems of small merchants. At OkCredit, we began work on OkShop and OkStaff after the onslaught of the pandemic and shipped them out in record time.

This year, we are focusing on scaling these products as we simultaneously work on the development of some other products. 

Mandar Agashe, Founder, MD and Vice Chairman, Sarvatra Technologies

Sarvatra has seen a significant paradigm shift during the lockdown. There has been increased collaboration between banks and fintechs - we have seen a huge demand from all these banks to move from an on-site product to cloud-based implementation so that banks can give 24x7 digital products to all their customers even if branches were inaccessible due to restricted movement.

Additionally, digital payments received a boost beyond urban-centric processes like UPI, to a rise in AePS usage as well. Going forward, we hope to scale up and drive innovation on a much deeper level by introducing new features and building a seamless banking network that is accessible to all. 

Anand Kumar Bajaj, Founder, MD and CEO, PayNearby

The new normal ushered in by the pandemic has accelerated digitisation in all aspects of our lives. With a majority of Bharat still technology shy and financially underserved, our focus will be to make form factor agnostic easy payments and assisted digital banking available at every corner store, so that no citizen of the country goes underserved.

Simple cash digitisation infra at local stores and distribution of digital commerce through them will be a key focus area. This will help untapped rural markets get access to essential digital services and bring a financially underserved and digitally wary population into the mainstream." 

Bhavin Patel, Co-founder and CEO, LenDenClub

After the economy opened up, since the last 6 months, we at LenDenClub sensed an upsurge in demand, and added multiple features related to easy renewals and repayments of loans. The last 12 months have pushed customers towards first-hand loan service providers like us.

With fuelling demand for credit across both retail and businesses, we have reduced our turnaround time, achieving more than 80 percent loan disbursements within just 5 hours. I think it’s time to switch from traditional banking to banking on the go. 

Sudarshan Lodha, Co-Founder and CEO, Strata

The rise of the digital economy through the pandemic has transformed the manner in which investments and financial decisions are dealt with. With new tech-enabled platforms offering transparency, security, and easy traceability of investments, clients are now willing to adapt to new age mediums as they can make well-informed decisions.

More importantly, it has created a level-playing field for a diverse demographic of investors. Commercial real estate as an asset class was restricted to the institutional segment until recently but today India’s middle class and HNIs are actively investing in it. 

Of the 200 crore that Strata raised in the last few months, 70 percent was raised amid the pandemic, indicative of the huge appetite in the market.  

Rohan Nayak, Cofounder and CEO, PocketFM

The pandemic has created new trends in the digital realm, and audio as a content format has grown rapidly, especially via audiobooks and podcasts. People have reconnected with the listening habit, and this will pave the way for the adoption of audio as a mainstream choice for entertainment and knowledge.

PocketFM has grown 5X in the last one year, and we continue to march forward to build audio as an expansive category.

Vinay Bagri, Co-founder and CEO, NIYO SOLUTIONS

The neo-banking industry has existed in India for almost three years now, however, the industry really found its relevance the most when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. At a time when bank customers were hesitant to visit branch offices, Niyo’s offerings gave further impetus to branchless banking culture.

Niyo worked with multiple banking partners during the pandemic and is gearing up to launch a slew of new exciting products for its consumers. 

Sumeet Mehta, Co-founder and CEO, LEAD

The Indian education system was caught almost unaware when COVID-19 struck, and hence the adoption of technology was brought forward by a couple of years. While most schools undertook a jugaad to set up online learning to make up for school shutdown, going forward as school reopens, there is a need to cover the learning gaps from last year and hence bridge courses are imperative.

Schools need to follow hybrid schooling, and there is an utmost need for innovation in online classroom tech like ensuring ease of practice, assessments, homework among others. 

Snehil Khanor, Co-founder and CEO, TrulyMadly

COVID-19 definitely brought in a sense of isolation among young individuals, as social interactions were curtailed owing to a remote life. While we were seeing significant spikes in signups and revenues even months before COVID-19, in the first two weeks of lockdown, we saw the volume surge by nearly 30 percent, which is generally seasonal during the Christmas and New Year holiday season.

In the year ahead, we sense a higher adoption as millennials as well as Gen-Zs are shunning apprehensions associated with dating apps and are embracing it more confidently, especially if they want to find a compatible life partner and not just a hookup. 

Manish Patel, Founder and CEO,Mswipe

The global pandemic fuelled tremendous and large scale adoption of digital payments and online commerce from metros to even Tier IV and V towns. The pandemic has boosted prospects for fintech players - at Mswipe, contactless payments grew from 13percent in January 2020 to 30 percent in January 2021. Businesses that were earlier offline, moved towards accepting contactless online payments enabled by Mswipe’s PayByLink.

We believe that the adoption of digital payments will continue because people have realised that digital payments methods are simple and a lot of it can be done remotely and contactless as we continue to emerge from the shadows of COVID-19. 

Gaurang Sinha, Director, Go-to-Market Strategy at Flock

We have gone from working in an office, to a complete WFH mode and now a hybrid working model. Through March 2020, Flock has been incredibly successful in becoming the de-facto platform for work communication for thousands of companies around the world, and customers are easily adapting to collaboration platforms.

What we learned is that employees can work from home or anywhere for that matter, as long as the organisation provides them with an efficient working platform. Our goal ahead is to fulfil the customised needs of our clients, in order to grow and promote a safe and efficient working environment. 

Aditya Malik, CEO and MD, Talentedge

With the lockdown commencing in March 2020, educational institutions were compelled to shift their classes to online learning - incorporating digital technologies, to make learning more interactive. Now in 2021, with the news of schools, colleges and universities slowly reopening, what is being heard often is the phrase “hybrid learning”.

The perfect amalgamation of interactive digital learning and traditional face-to-face learning. The new normal has empowered young minds to strike a perfect balance between learning with technology. 

Siddhartha Gupta, CEO, Mercer | Mettl

We realised any crisis could be in waiting and as a business, we have to be ready. Businesses need to continuously evolve to suit the market dynamics and customer’s most pressing demands.

We have learnt from our experiences and learnt well that when you keep the conversations going with your customers, listen to their feedback and work on incorporating those, you can easily innovate your way out of any crisis and maintain business continuity".

Shan Kadavil, Co-Founder and CEO, FreshToHome

Like everything else, even the fish and meat purchasing behaviour of consumers was affected dramatically during the pandemic. With “safety” and “hygiene” becoming topmost priorities for customers, ecommerce witnessed a habit-forming shift. As a result, FreshToHome saw its online demand rise manifolds for its products that come with a safety guarantee of “100 percent fresh and 0 percent chemicals” as well as contactless deliveries that became a routine in 2020. 

Our biggest learning during the pandemic has been to maintain the ethos of the company, which is the promise of no chemicals. We have stayed true to it despite gaining a broader reach and more complex operations during these trying times. 

Akshay Chaturvedi, Founder and CEO, Leverage Edu

The last year has helped us to become more innovative, more efficient, and also a company with a huge heart. It saw us flip out the model and launch UniConnect, a virtual education fair that saw over 130 universities partner to meet matched students. We also took the hard call of not letting a single teammate go, irrespective of much bigger peers in the tech ecosystem doing it. And pretty much resultantly, we ended up growing our monthly topline over 4x. Will always remember this year as one that gave us unbelievable character.

Rahul Pagidipati, CEO at Zebpay

Bitcoin was under $5000 and ETH around $100 when the lockdown started and now, since a year of the lockdown, they have gone up by 10X. When the Supreme Court lifted the ban on crypto and the lockdown accidentally forced people to be home, they had time to research and learn about new things. Both of these acted as a great boost to the crypto industry.  

At ZebPay, in 2020, we saw a 270 percent increase in trading volume and registered users from quarter to quarter, a 218 percent increase in number of users trading, and 143 percent increase in app downloads—this, without accounting for the explosive growth buoyed by the Bitcoin rally in our fourth quarter. 

Lalit Keshre, Co-founder and CEO, Groww

The major takeaway from the upheaval caused by 2020 was to build a resilient organisation that can thrive under chaos and uncertainties. Following the path of antifragility, we were able to create the best in class investing experience to support our investors in leveraging market opportunities.

2021 would be the year of resurgence and making up for the lost ground. It would be the year of shedding inefficiencies and making the most of one’s time and resources. Carrying along with the lessons that 2020 taught us, we remain laser-focused on our mission of democratising investing in India in 2021 as well. 

Akshaya Aron, Co-Founder, Quartic.ai

The silver lining in these dark times has been the acceptance and success of remote work. I think it’s an excellent opportunity for the government to build new startup hubs in Tier-II cities of India.

This will not only ease pressure from our already overburdened metros, but also strengthen our startup ecosystem. 

Rishab Mehta, CEO and Founder, GrayQuest 

The pandemic and the resultant physical restrictions brought about by the lockdown has boosted the demand and public acceptance of digitisation of financial services. The financial constraints caused due to the pandemic has enabled parents to dedicate more time to streamlining their personal finance and efficiently take financial decisions.

In the year ahead, our vision is to become the default mode of fee payment for 10 million learners from different schools and universities across India. We also aim to reach all corners of the country and bring more students under the radar of education financing thereby providing accessible and affordable education to all. 

Narayan ‘Naru’ Ramamoorthy, Chief Revenue Officer, Global PayEX

COVID-19 has sped the adoption of digitisation in the B2B payments and automation space by many years. At Global PayEX we achieved a 40 percent Q-o-Q growth in electronic B2B payments and saw 4X increase in adoption of FreePay among dealers and distributors who are largely MSMEs.

We see clear adoption of cloud, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning by CFOs to optimise working capital efficiency in the year ahead.

Dhruvil Sanghvi, CEO, LogiNext

The pandemic has reaffirmed the importance of planning and building with a long term vision. Technology is revolutionising how everything is done and logistics is an impact area for us where we’ve been working relentlessly to bring in visibility and tracking to ensure a digital and automated supply chain.

The biggest lesson has been to always factor in a variable which will not be in our control and build systems in a way that the impact can be handled.

Ruhan Naqash, Co-Founder and CMO of MyCaptain

The pandemic led schools, colleges and traditional learning institutions to collaborate with private players more proactively. The technology and methodology that private players have, has thawed the coldness schools and colleges had towards the same, and this will result in an upsurge of collaboration in the space.

Moreover, not only did K12 and test prep see a surge in online consumption, but we saw hobbies and alternate fields also take the front seat during the pandemic. This will just keep growing from here.

Monark Modi, Founder and CEO, Bitex

Inflation proofing investments has been the biggest draw for people to move towards alternate investment assets during COVID-19.

Despite continued scepticism on the regulation front, worldwide the acceptance of cryptocurrency as a hedge against uncertain economic times has been established, and in the coming months, its adoption among millennials as a SIP will only grow. 

Dr Somdutta Singh, CEO and Founder, Assiduus Global

This past one year has only made my resolve and the mantra I live by stronger: Every adversity comes with an opportunity. In 2020, when the government mandate stopped sales via ecommerce platforms, I started planning for other ways in which I could deliver and how to make the most of a grim situation like this.

By smartly redirecting my resources to manage the different facets of the pandemic, I have ensured that my businesses survived.

Niraj Hutheesing, Founder and Managing Director, Cygnet Infotech

Last year was a challenging year for our business, especially the first half due to the pandemic. However, we adapted our processes and operations in the second half, and did exceptionally well in the latter part of the year. Hence last year helped create a strong foundation for further growth. We have now expanded our business operations in the UK too. We are looking to hire new talent to accelerate business growth. 

 

The outlook for this year looks very positive and we are moving towards onboarding new clients. We are focusing on delivering Digital Transformation and Automation solutions that help our enterprise business clients scale. Cygnet Infotech is also looking at upgrading its solutions to meet the needs of its customers in the new normal.

Piyush Vishwakarma, Co-founder and CEO, Jeevam Health

During the pandemic, the use of technology has made it a blessing in disguise and just by sitting at home a patient can analyse 1000s of biomarkers, get the feedback from best expert doctors. The change in perception and mindset of people has given players like us to expand this untapped market.

Lalit Mehta, Co-founder and CEO, Decimal Technologies

We focussed our energies on crafting new solutions such as Saarathi (AI-enabled digital lending marketplace for DSAs and Lenders) and VahanaHub (API Aggregation platform for all KYC, financial data, geolocation, biometric etc APIs across various providers).

We doubled our investments in business development by doubling our team in the first six months of lockdown. We also started a Customer Success function, increased our efforts in digital marketing and inside sales. All this put together has led us to attain more than 40 percent growth in revenue, 40 percent increase in team size, launching of new products and shaping up of newer, futuristic revenue streams. 

 

Overall, with some hiccups here and there, and learnings, we have come out stronger from the global crisis. COVID-19 pushed us to think differently. All our customers are back to their pre-COVID-19 or better numbers. They are now looking to invest and grow while being cautious, especially on digital lending. Home Loan and Gold Loan are also seeing good demand and growth since the pandemic. Digital will continue to remain the mantra of the post-COVID-19 economy. 

Surya Phadke, Chairman at Doot

2020 will be remembered as a great victory for human endurance in the digital age. The adage “hold fast, stay true” has never been more relevant. 2020 taught us the importance of being agile - the scale of digital adoption not only helped us in reaching a bigger audience but also forced us to adapt our product to solve a broad spectrum of citizen grievances.

Going forward it is imperative for SMEs to go 100 percent digital and envision a frictionless future.

Suumit Shah, Co-founder, Dukaan

The one thing that I learnt is resilience along with empathy. Millions of small as well as big businesses have already started undergoing 'digital transformation' and those who invested more in digital technology as compared to their peers, are already seeing huge ROI. This new way of doing business 'digitally' is going to become a 'new' norm in the long term.

Aakash Anand, Founder, Bella Vita Organics

What demonetisation did for digital payments, the pandemic has done the same for D2C brands. It has severely increased the revenues for brands like us, and has also created a new trend of mass audience relying on online marketplaces for essential goods and FMCG products and the future looks very promising as the online audience is now ever-growing along with an elevating trust in new and upcoming Indie D2C brands.

Vivek Desai, Founder and Managing Director, HOSMAC

COVID in 2020 has exposed the dire state of Healthcare infrastructure not only in the third world but also in developed nations. We not only need more capital investments but also focused strategy to increase the number of skilled human resources to tackle such calamities.

India’s move to have a separate administrative cadre for healthcare is a welcome step. Private and public collaboration which was forced upon has also taught us that it works and we must learn from it.

Vikas Chaturvedi, CEO of Xanadu Realty

In my opinion, the biggest lesson that the COVID-19 outbreak has delivered is the need to remain agile and flexible. As we gradually move towards pre-pandemic normalcy, entrepreneurs must keep that agility at the core of their operations. They must evaluate every development that impacts their business in real-time and be prepared to pivot their approach at any given instant.

 

Another aspect that emerging entrepreneurs must focus on is building a strong data model. As an entrepreneur, you must ensure that your business is prepared to leverage this imminent data explosion to inform your decision-making processes and drive better business outcomes.

Narayan Mahadevan, Founder of BridgeLabz Solutions LLP

The COVID-19 outbreak has wreaked financial havoc around the globe, leaving many business owners struggling in its wake. A business needs intense focus and caring. While the short-term outlook for businesses varies greatly by industry, it’s important to consider what recovery mode will look like once the economy begins to return to a state of normalcy—or establishes a new normal.

We as an organisation believe team spirit is a key factor that builds transparent communication across the organisation to ensure everyone is on board.  The team should synchronise all efforts towards the same target and focus on a single-minded target.

As an entrepreneur, one must ensure that your team is able to find a gap or need that your business requires at the time of crisis.

Bharath Sastry, CEO of Vistaprint India 

Here are a few mantras around building your business in the post-COVID-19 era:

 

  • Focus: It lets you better connect with potential customers as they are integral to the success of your business. also helps businesses/brands to identify the areas where it can play a critical role in delivering a customer promise in a profitable way.  Once this is arrived at, businesses need to rationalise their portfolios accordingly and ensure that the whole organisation is rallied around the strategy.
  • Personalisation: It is a strong differentiator that helps your business/brand build a connection with your customers.  
  • Innovation: With customers' behaviour constantly changing, they are continuously evaluating and reevaluating their choices Innovation helps you solve a real consumer issue as a marketer by offering relevant products and services.
  • Adaptability - T It is imperative that businesses keep reinventing themselves to swiftly sustain through challenging times.
  • Digitisation - The pandemic has ensured that digitisation is not a choice anymore but a necessity. Companies and individuals need to embrace it wholly or partly.

Shekhar Rawtani Founder and CEO of Prescrip 

e-health industry took center stage during the pandemic. And to ensure the continuity of clinical practices for our doctors, Prescrip developed a simple solution by integrating our platform with WhatsApp. However, based on the feedback from our users/doctors, we learned quickly that telemedicine would always play second fiddle to in-person consultations.

Also, we anticipated that by the time clinics re-open, doctors from all tiers will develop the knack for technology. So, during the pandemic, we were able to simplify our mobile-first in-clinic EHR/EMR solution to a point where no training is required. Our goal is to leverage simplicity, demonstrate value, and thereby scale the adoption of technology in-clinic going forward.

Amith Agarwal Co-founder and CEO, AgriBazaar

The last one year taught us:

 

  • Ability to handle ambiguity: Post-COVID-19, organisations will have to build the capacity to handle ambiguity. A new crisis or global scare may hit you tomorrow, but we have to face, navigate and overcome it.
  • Building a lean and capex efficient business model: Every business has to behave in a frugal manner and build a cash conservation mindset.
  • Putting employee health and safety a priority: Businesses can slow down and can be built later. However, what can't be replaced is human life.  WFH is a useful discovery that will become the new normal.
  • Solving a real and genuine problem digitally: The pandemic has demonstrated that businesses solving real problems of customers through a digital business model continued or picked up quickly.  
  • Focusing on 4C - Collaboration, Compassion, Courage, and Commitment: The post-COVID-19 world will have the 4C's of building a business. Everything can't be done by itself; hence an ecosystem of collaboration and trust needs to be built. Profits alone cannot define success. Compassion and doing the right thing will be critical for businesses to succeed. Courage and commitment to stay on course even during the worst times would be vital for teams; COVID-19 demonstrated how employees acted as frontline workers for their organisations and helped generate revenues.

Raghav Sood, Co-founder, Skin Elements

Last year was full of learnings! The ecommerce industry in India has taken a leap of at least five years, in terms of penetration not only in metro cities but also in Tier-II and Tier-III towns.

Industry-wide we see a lot many brands entering the Rs 100 crore club and this trend will only continue to grow with better logistics and brands serving niche customer demands with innovative products. Our captive sales have seen a jump of 100 percent vs pre-COVID-19. 

Praveen Dhabhai, CEO, Payworld 

Through the right infrastructure in place, it was easy to switch to the work from home model immediately and completely, and our operations were not impacted at all. With the upgradation of our technology and using analytics tools, we switched to a virtual form of training through Zoom and Google Meet to teach our retailers and grow our retailer awareness. 

Our primary learning was that business dynamics can change drastically at any moment and an organisation should be able to adapt to the changes instantly to sustain itself. 

Satish Shukla, Co-founder and Director, HR and Marketing, Addverb Technologies

Due to the COVID-19 scenario, as people are shifting towards more online shopping and home deliveries, we have come up with a new offering, "Micro-Fulfillment Centers" specifically dedicated to the e-grocery segment. To meet the increased demand and make the supply chain robust, automation has emerged as the levelling point and with-it various distribution concepts such as micro fulfilment centres have come into play. Also, to successfully fight the pandemic and assist the frontline warriors of COVID-19, we have designed and deployed Decimator – our disinfectant mobile robot across hospitals, and quarantine centres.

 

Going ahead on our journey, we have managed the tide and will continue to overcome the challenges in our way. COVID-19 will reshape our world. We don't yet know when the crisis will end. But we can be sure that by the time it does, our world will look quite different. This gives us an opportunity to think and reorganise our work for reliable delivery to our customers, to adjust and innovate as per the new normal."

Apoorv Jain, Co-Founder and CEO at Express StoresIn grocery supply chain and consumption, the pandemic made consumers dependent on their neighbourhood Kiranas and gave birth to hacks like online ordering through WhatsApp from their favourite Kirana. Bharat's kiranas, who don't have access to an ideal supply chain, got further exposed to such challenges during the pandemic.

With such additional value propositions getting exposed through hacks during the pandemic, the need of the hour is to provide consumers with a much better shopping experience in their neighbourhood, which is exactly what Express Stores is focusing on. We are now building a modern omnichannel chain of neighbourhood grocery stores.

Amit Srivastava, CEO and Chief Catalyst, Nutrify Today

Pandemic induced the common man to hyper digitisation. In nutraceuticals, the journey ahead would be a complete deviation of what it was perceived to be in 2019. Accelerated growth in nutraceuticals will witness a convergence of technologies that deliver personalised nutrition. AI will drive the choice of nutrition and its timings through convergence portable dispensing devices. Early innovations have started entering the market. 

Aayushi patwari and Ishita Das, Co-Founders of Connecting NER

The pandemic required us to take actions on which we had been pondering over for months. The stillness also made us reflect on the teams we want to build, because those that were not just vanished into thin air. Not only that, but our learning through this pandemic has made us realise the kind of leadership that is meant to last, one that harbors communication, collaboration in its most basic sense and also ensuring that humanity as a factor is kept alive across all dealings undertaken.

Anand Virmani, Co-Founder and CEO, NAO Spirits & Beverages

We learnt the value of time this last year. The value of taking time to reflect on ourselves and also taking time to understand our consumers. This was in stark contrast to the non-stop pre-pandemic life and we really hope we don’t misplace the pause button again. 

Amit Agarwal, Founder and CEO, OckyPocky

The pandemic allowed all of us to learn the importance of technology and its impacts on our lives. Currently, eight out of 10 children have relied on edtech platforms for their educational needs and this development is truly going to be beneficial for the Indian education system.

Because we are made in Bharat and made for Bharat, it was truly transformational to see the huge demand upsurge that came from Tier III, IV towns, and government sectors. 

Going forward, we forecast more innovative products as these hungry newbie users are demanding a huge investment in vernacular. We have already quadrupled our content, sales capabilities to meet Bharat's kids and their needs.

Also fascinating is the cross-border opportunities, given all the attention we are getting for building the most awesome English learning product.

Vimal Sharma, Founder and CEO, SMOOR

At Smoor, we primarily focussed on digitising our front-end operations. Customer centricity is yet another key focus for us. This meant launching several new products and flavours but simultaneously improvising to come up with tamper-proof packaging, family-sized cakes (vs larger grammage earlier), and healthy products. Finally, agility was the key to not just surviving but also growing during the pandemic. We were able to make amendments in both our frontend and backend to overcome the challenges, adapt to the situation, learn from it, and grow further.

Nitesh Salvi, Founder and CEO, Pocket52

The biggest learning is to say no to unnerving moments and say yes to agile modifications of business strategies. Re-inventing and pivoting the product and its features according to the need of the hour would keep the cash flowing. Most importantly, to achieve all this, you gotta keep your team together - they are the real heroes who would help you survive the crisis. And think about your audiences' pockets too. We gave lucrative offers and bonuses in the time of dullness. The skill based games, Poker and Rummy, at Pocket52 were not only enjoyed by professional players but it also helped us keep occasional players entertained during the lockdown. We witnessed an average growth of 20 percent every month.

Hemant Manglani, GM, Stanplus

The pandemic has driven home the point that it’s an employer's duty to ensure that they take keen interest in their employees' physical and mental health as well as their overall well-being - on-premise, at home, and in transits to ensure productivity and growth in our economy. 

Siddharth Ramasubramanian, Founder and CEO, Vegolution

People have been closer to their kitchens and family more so now than ever before as health and family nourishment has become our top priority. We have developed new eating and cooking habits that are here to stay, enabling daily food experiences that offer taste and wholesome nutrition at affordable prices. 

Swati Babel, CEO, PrimaDollar India

Some vital footsteps that have become inevitable for all of us after the lessons learnt in the past one year are digitisation, reconciliation of government policies, simplifying the complexities of conventional banking structures, adapting to change and having contingency plans. The entire cross border supply chain has been flared up due to the pandemic, companies are entangled in a liquidity crunch, the biggest relief for the supplier now is to receive early payments. 

Ayesha Chenoy, Founder, RepIndia, Author

The most eye-opening learning has been how quickly and powerfully technology can be leveraged to solve some of the most pressing challenges of our time, and to bridge the enormous education access gap that situations like these exacerbate. Without tech innovations in learning, our educational infrastructure could have completely crippled. The important thing now is to collectively keep using technology to deliver world-class learning solutions that are inclusive and accessible even when things go back to normal! 

Deepak Aggarwal, Co-founder and CFO, MoneyboxxFinance Ltd

As an organisation, we have always focused on getting the basics right – understanding the customer and managing risks prudently – which is key to building a sustainable and sound business. We have successfully emerged out of the pandemic and see a huge opportunity in lending to micro and small enterprises.  

Hitesh B Rao, Co-founder, The RR Group

What I have realised is that the key to success is “patience“ and as a young entrepreneur one tends to forget the very basic principles of business and over complicate things in the constant urge for success. Another key takeaway was realising the value of people who work for you, people you work with and the people you work for. In the time of automation, everyone in your social ecosystem is equally important for your business to be able to grow and sustain that growth.

Vineet Arora, Co-founder, Vantage Point Company and Rad Living

As an entrepreneur who started at an early age, I was relentlessly hustling over the past years without realising the effects my actions had on my own body, on the well being of those around me and more importantly the environment as a whole. My biggest learning was to understand the value of 'rest' and 'sustainable actions', not only for myself but for all those around me too. It's high time that every entrepreneur learns to focus on 'individual well-being' and imbibe sustainability as a value in their teams and businesses. 

Vinayak Burman, Managing and Founder Partner, Vertices Partners

Entrepreneurial ventures have always been risky endeavors but the risk element has been amplified with the outbreak of the COVID-19-19 pandemic. Constrained liquidity concerns impacting operational continuity and lower business valuations as compared to pre-pandemic levels were key challenge areas faced by entrepreneurs. Businesses, especially small business owners have realised the importance of doing the basics right such as cash flow management. The pandemic has also taught small business owners that change is the only constant and the ability to adapt swiftly to changes will determine their future survival and sustainability,”

Amruth Charmana M, Co-founder and CEO, enKast

There is a major shift in our customer acquisition model. A typical MSME lead would expect sales-agents to visit, warm-up and then close. However, when the phase-1 lockdown was announced, we invested heavily in sales automation, which increased our online customer acquisition by 7.5 times and the expensive feet-on-street module has been discarded ever since. 

 

Pre-Covid, our sales team would typically make 11-average interactions before making the subscription, but this has come down to just four average interactions post-Covid. 

 

The entire team started to work remotely in April 2020 and as of date, we tripled in team size by absorbing talents from across the country for half the cost.  

Samrat Reddy, Founder and Managing Director, Drunken MonkeyPandemic has taught maximum utilisation of resources rightly by making the most of whatever you have. It helped us learn how tough situations make you better, enhancing team skills and that patience is the key to bounce back strong. We have realised the importance of taking care of ourselves and everything around us with detailing to minimise the damage, which in other words, is to stay focused.

Vimal Singh, Founder, ReadyAssist

The COVID-19 pandemic has tested how strong the human relationships are. We stood together even at the most difficult time of our century. While work from home has become the new normal, we should embrace its success to the past human relationships that we have built in our workplaces. It has pushed people to go more digital than ever. While this will add tremendous fuel to various businesses , it is also important for us to understand and cherish the importance of human relationships and empathy. 

Utkarsh Singh, CEO, BatX Energies Pvt Ltd. 

Every industry has observed a tough time during the pandemic. Though the lockdown period was tough, we grabbed the opportunity to fully utilise our capability, and strengthen ourselves to create a unique concept. We invested our time in research, and rigorously tested our products to improvise and develop them in the best manner. In order to keep our business in the right direction, we are still engaging with more stakeholders and developing innovative products which will help us regain our lost track.

Prasanna Rao, CEO and Co-founder, Arya

While the pandemic afflicted various industries, it validated our services and our working model. For the future, our focus will be on enhancing the reach of our digitally enabled services to a larger number of primary and secondary agri-centers. We are digitising the complete post-harvest value chain, enabling each farmer to have the freedom to decide when, where and who to sell her produce.

Vedang Patel, Co-founder, The Souled StoreWe were tested on two fronts - unit economics and company culture. When the lockdown hit, even though we weren't built to work from home, people and teams banded together overnight to make it work, nobody had to be told to be at their desk, everyone was driven for a common goal showing the importance of culture in a time of crisis. Our non discount and high margin strategy along with the loyal fan base ensured that we grew 2x over the last 12 month, and made a profit doing it.

Shreedha Singh, Co-founder, The Ayurveda Co.

Every passing day in 2020 burst the big bubbles of illusions and made us humble. We tip-toed around trising cases and scarred lives left with the loss of jobs, hopes and their loved ones.

It taught us how much there is to do in so little time without affirming what tomorrow will look like. It became imperative to work our ways with families and our profession so that it was okay if people were not on the same page, provided they were reading the same book. All in all, 2020 changed us for good, made us grateful for what we have, and taught us that even in crisis, there is growth.

Reeju Datta, Co-founder, Cashfree

Being lean, and even profitable can help startups be prepared for market downturns and such unprecedented events. The pandemic forced many offline businesses to have a digital aspect in their operations, and there has been a high demand for low code and no-code solutions in many industries. In payments specifically, due to the surge in volumes, we see a need to upgrade the underlying payment processing infrastructure and continue to focus on building a powerful and scalable payments platform for businesses.

Raj Desai, CEO and Co-founder, School of Accelerated Learning

The pandemic has made us question our fundamental assumptions about the way the world works. With work-from-home, digital payments and video calls going mainstream, the way we learn, work and live has changed significantly. This is the black swan event that has ushered in the future of work across industries. With millions of Indians becoming tech-savvy, and adapting digital solutions like never before, India is now on the path to being a powerhouse economy with a robust digital infrastructure. Akin to the Chinese economy booming post-SARS, the Indian economy will grow exponentially from here. It is a great opportunity to build and grow technology-based businesses for India and the world.

Ravi Kaushik, CEO, Airth Research Private Limited

Effective communication is the ultimate way out while working from home alongside coordinating with your team. It is important because despite having access to various online modes of communication, productivity in terms of teamwork badly suffered during the pandemic. This is the time when your team needs reasonable direction and not just instructions. After all, the learnings of this pandemic are here to stay. So only those who can effectively communicate with their team can thrive ahead."

Ajay Lakhotia, Founder, StockGro

The pandemic gave a sudden boost to the online gaming, education and investment sector. Stock Market crashed with the news of lockdown and gave opportunistic investors a window to invest at discounted value, and quite soon, the market revived giving over 200 percent return in six months.

Investment becomes a mainstream activity with users having dispensable time and income at their end. We started building StockGro just a month before the pandemic, and while fighting all the adversities, the business gained strong momentum on the tailwind of millennials exploring venues to learn to participate in Stock-Market

Khushnud Khan, CEO, Co-founder of Arzooo

Retail and non-essential consumer goods businesses were shaken the most as an impact of the pandemic and the learning there, has been that while in store footfall remains the lifeline for retail, consumer may no more be interested in visiting four stores to complete one purchase, so the road ahead for retail is the adoption to technology to equip every single store with enough product range and create great bottom of the funnel proposition to drive up conversion for every footfall, to take retail from survive to thrive in 2021”.

Gayathri Vivekanandan, CEO, Ideas2IT

We’ve always placed a premium on our culture, but the pandemic highlighted its importance. In 2020, we achieved a 68 percent revenue jump, and 33 percent growth in people strength. I credit this to our people and the homogeneous work culture that unites them. Though we were woring from home last year, we seamlessly collaborated and delivered prestigious projects for clients like Facebook, Medtronic Labs, and Oportun. In the future, we will invest more to filter for culture fit, and scale-up without diluting it.

Bhavin Patel, Co-founder and CEO, LenDenClub

The pandemic mandated lockdown has given a boost to all digital processes. Technological breakthroughs in specialised areas by new age fintech companies have led to strategic collaborations, whereby core banking systems have been complemented with new age innovations through Open Banking and APIs. This has resulted in a strong behavioural shift towards digital platforms such as P2P lending. The last 12 months have pushed customers towards first hand loan service providers. With fuelling demand for credit across both retail and businesses, we have reduced our turnaround time, achieving more than 80% loans disbursements within just 5 hours. I think it’s a time to switch from traditional banking to banking on the go.”

Arpit Katta, CFO, VegEase

VegEase as an agri-tech startup has evolved multi-fold in the past year. The management and the leadership system have created a culture to have belief in the long-term vision of the brand, and to be patient and considerate at every step. We have utilised every day in consolidating strategically and optimally. We are ready for the year ahead, with all plans in motion. The road map forward for us is all earmarked and landmarked with concrete goals.

Prasad Sreeram, Founder and CEO, COGOS Technologies 

During lockdown and social distancing in place, we adapted a first-of-its-kind scientific methodology for mergers and acquisitions - Human Capital Valuation for our acquisition of a peer logistics company. The acquisition was done successfully in an extremely short span of time. Post lockdown, we delivered over 10 million shipments into 300 cities. COGOS also logged a 150 percent growth in revenue during the festive season, while the demand grew 72 percent then. People were fast to embrace tech during the pandemic. We are investing heavily in electric mobility and empowering women to join EV fleets. 

Anil Pinapala, Co-founder, Vivifi Technologies

For an organisation, its team is the most important asset and there is no better way to motivate the employees than to make sure that they are coping well during these harsh times. It is important for leaders to be available for their employees and be understanding of their financial and personal problems.

Anurag Avula, CEO and Co-founder, Shopmatic

When an economic recession or depression like the current pandemic occurs, businesses should look at how to use resources that are already at their disposal to create better outcomes. Capitalise on strengths and create new flexible business models to pivot without hesitation. 

Divya Jain, Co-founder, Safejob

The COVID-19 pandemic has played a crucial role in highlighting the digital divide in India. Situations like the pandemic have given entrepreneurs the opportunity to learn a great deal. During such times one should always diversify and intensify the core portfolio. In fact, the pandemic has made it almost imperative for companies to diversify their revenue streams in order to stay afloat. Bringing a digital transformation and pushing businesses to go online is essential to survive in a competitive pandemic-hit market."

Achin Bhattacharyya CEO and Founder, Notebook

The pandemic has taught us a few very important lessons, it has reemphasised the point that none of us can exist in isolation, thus our neighbours’ well being is as important to us as our own well being. It has also made all of us realise how little we actually need to live, over last one year when all of us had to stay away from shopping malls, movie theatres and restaurants eating only home-cooked food and spending time with our parents and children life was truly simple and sweet.

Arjun Sagar Gupta, Founder, The Piano Man

The last year has been interesting. One of my most valuable lessons was to not be afraid to break down and rebuild ideas and structures. We've reworked our systems and our approach, keeping our ideology the same. This allowed us to be one of the first global venues to bring live music back every single day, keeping all COVID-19 precautions in mind. Despite the times, a re-evaluation of the systems allowed us to go further than pre-covid and we even began daily musical shows at lunch at both our clubs!

Yeshwanth Raj Parasmal, Co-founder and Principal Director, 21K School

2020 has been the year of acceptance, adaptation and innovation. The biggest learning this year has been that digital is the future. With schools going online, the Indian audience has recognized that homeschooling and online schooling can be an equally effective means of gaining quality education.   

Shrey Goyal, CEO, Mastree 

The pandemic made us realise the true potential of technology in education. Almost overnight, educational establishments had to adopt digital learning and the reliance on edtech offerings leapfrogged. New-age learning formats like gamification, personalised practices and real-time forums to showcase skills caught user attention. We believe the integrated model of education is here to stay, and will be a real game-changer in creating a workforce that is truly future-ready with the technical and soft skills needed to navigate the new normal world.

Sudhanshu Sharma, Founder and CEO, RoboGenius

The pandemic proved that without technology, it would have been a disaster. COVID-19 was a lesson, we should pick up the learnings and make our kids future-ready. We need young innovators, creative thinkers, and problem-solvers to lead the technology of today and tomorrow. 

Amit Singh, CEO, Teliolabs

The road ahead is full of challenges in terms of adaptability towards new technology, systems and processes in business organisations. With the current set of learnings, we are to develop an ecosystem which will work in a better way whenever a pandemic or anything of the same sort happens in future, so that the economy doesn’t slow down as it has during the pandemic.

Saurabh Garg, Co-founder and CBO, NoBroker

It was a year to innovate and sustain. By remoulding products and services according to changing customer preferences and circumstances, a lot of businesses ensured their survival and thrived despite unprecedented market challenges. Technology has now become even more prominent and has taught entrepreneurs and businessmen to be better prepared to mitigate risks and expand consumer base. The year 2020 saw a significant rise of digital-first approach intrinsic to a business, instead of being a complementary solution.

Meghna Suryakumar, Founder and CEO, Crediwatch 

Nearly every small business is hopeful about the future after the pandemic has upset everyone’s balance sheets and lives. However, what gives me hope is the strength and learnings of having come through such a tough time. Many organisations have found new ways of working with each other that will make us more productive, creative and efficient. The year gone by has taught us some incredible lessons - how to balance our lives better while enduring a pandemic and keeping our businesses afloat. Suddenly, the future of work is already here.

Megha More, Co-founder and COO, Possible

The biggest learning from the pandemic is that there is an opportunity in every adversity. COVID-19 did push us to the wall, but it also forced us to evaluate business fundamentals. We initially went into survival mode, and then undertook a new identity (rebranded from Truweight to Possible). The plan ahead is to help millions of Indians eat healthy and fortify their body’s immunity in order to fight the current or any future pandemics.

Ankit Gera, Co-founder, Junio

Digital has exploded during the pandemic, and has become the default mode for transactions across categories. Just like demonetisation provided a massive push for digital payments, the pandemic has provided that boost to edtech, online shopping, and even payments to an extent. A key learning is that the customer is extremely grateful to the businesses that are executed well, and managed to reduce risk and exposure for the user. Gen Z, which was always more digitally inclined, has become more digital native during the last 12 months.  

Sameer Aggarwal, Founder and CEO, RevFin

Two lessons that I learnt to help prepare for crises and to deal with them effectively are - Perseverance and Risk Management. Perseverance is to remain positive and motivated through any crisis and to hang in there. Three basic principles of risk management have helped overcome the challenging impact of the pandemic - Diversification - operate in few uncorrelated businesses/segments; Provisioning - keep funds for the rainy day even at the expense of lower returns and Deleverage - get rid of non essential liabilities.

While the pandemic is not over yet, there is euphoria in the market. Businesses have reset their strategies and are looking to expand.

Nityanand Sharma, Co-founder and CEO, Simpl

The first two months of the lockdown were very difficult. We had to go remote almost immediately. It was a very uncertain time and as a leader, I spent a lot of it strategising our next move. For Simpl, the fallout of the pandemic also meant innovations and opportunities. We expanded our merchants’ list and included more DTC brands during the pandemic, something that the startup had not done before. As of now, 25 percent of Simpl’s transactions come from D2C brands. And I am confident that in the next 12 months, Simpl will continue to increase its role in that segment. With a 250 percent conversion rate, we plan to include more horizontal scaling than giving out a higher credit line.

Sandeep Lodha, CEO, OYO's Weddingz.in

The pandemic has changed the wedding landscape in India. Over the past year, we’ve learnt to stay flexible, lead with technology as opposed to ‘technology-enablement’, accelerate innovations, and rethink ways to ensure safe community events during such times. In a way, we strongly believe that the pandemic is an accelerator.

 

I believe understanding your customers and partners’ concerns, and aspirations was important. With insights from the people we serve, we were able to retool SOPs and launch products such as Wz Safe program, offering flexibility, customised packages, enabling virtual events, among others. 

Prasad Shejale, Founder and CEO, Logicserve Digital

Although some of the world leaders predicted that the next big threat would be a global virus and pandemic, none of us were really ready for what we went through. It's a perfect VUCAH (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity in a Hyperconnected world). But the silver lining to the pandemic is that it taught us to have a hard look at the assumptions that we have while taking personal and professional decisions. To be anti-fragile, we build resilience and a creative thought process. The most significant learning is to be fanatically prepared for possibilities that are thought to be impossible.

Anu Acharya, CEO and Founder, MapMyGenome

The most important learnings from the pandemic involve the three Es. The entrepreneur, the ecosystem and the environment. For an entrepreneur, their own health is key to surviving changes and making sure they can ride through the waves of change.

For the ecosystem to thrive, we need to make sure that decisions across the board can be made quickly to enable it to be successful. Many entrepreneurs had to adapt to micro and macro changes in their business environment. 

The most important lesson we learnt was that our behaviour affects the environment, and we need to ensure that we evaluate how to create a sustainable future for the planet.

Ranvir Singh, Managing Director, Kissht

COVID-19 impact on the customer's repayment capability has been immense. However, RBI took the right decision to offer a moratorium for the aggrieved borrowers to ease off their burden significantly. I personally believe that COVID-19 has been a great opportunity for us to capitalise on the relationship we have had with our large existing user base. We showed extreme care and empathy in understanding the struggles faced by them, and offered respite in whatsoever manner to build a long-term association with them. 

Rajat Jadhav, Co-founder, Bold Care

Bold Care, being a virtual men's health and wellness platform, has seen a surge of customers during this time.

We’ve strengthened our digital infrastructure to provide hassle-free and seamless virtual experiences. We will continue to focus on customer-centricity and expand our portfolio of products/services in line with the modern Indian man's discerning needs.

Kartik gaggar, Founder, Rajasthan Studio

When you don't see an opportunity, you create one! We started as a niche travel platform for artists, art lovers and travellers looking for art experiences. connecting artists to an audience from around the world, providing art experiences to travellers though our masterclass workshops but pandemic made us the biggest virtual art community of India. Being associated with more than 1500 artists across geography, today we are giving virtual art experiences as employee engagement activity to leading corporates and communities of India and overseas.

Sanjay Bhatia, Co-founder, Freightwalla

In our industry, we have witnessed logistics getting modernised with real-time tracking of cargo, business intelligence, algorithm-based solutions, online onboarding and documentation which in turn has minimised errors, reduced the overall cost of logistics, and saved time spent on redundant processes. Going forward, these changes will benefit India’s logistic industry to grow and meet the demand-supply gap along with timely outputs.

Vaibhav Arora, Founder, BhojanTech

India’s relationship with hunger is a quiet yet sinister one. Our nation produces enough to feed all its people, but the key threat to our food security is affordability closely followed by a lack of access (sic. the Global Food Security Index 2012). These are the two areas where we, the jan behind bhojan, concentrate our focus on. We build operational and supply chain efficiencies, use technology and the IoT to ensure that every Bhojan is hygienic, fresh, wholesome and available under ₹100. 

Prerit Srivastava, Co- Founder, Skeps

Uncertainty of the pandemic brought the idea of sustainable growth into sharp focus for both entrepreneurs and investors. The pandemic also helped us deepen our existing relationships by focusing on delivering more value to our customers who were also facing the loss of demand and revenue. Going forward we see huge opportunities of collaboration as large businesses move swiftly into new segments that saw an upsurge in demand during the pandemic

Gautam Das, CEO and Co-founder, Oorjan

 The past one year helped us push our limits and find solutions to deal with the new normal while reaching new heights. Business resilience is very crucial, and it has enabled us to sail through this pandemic. Our team conceptualised, developed and launched two portals in the Renewable Energy space- Greenstitute to build knowledge, and Greenjobs to help job seekers free of cost during these challenging times to the masses in India and make it affordable, easy to adopt and hassle-free for consumers. Since cost savings became the motto for businesses and consumers alike, Oorjan helped customers adopt solar by offering financing to avoid initial capex but reap the benefits of solar. 

Charit Jaggi, Founder, WeTheYoung

As a content platform, the lockdown almost quadrupled our reach with nearly a million more people watching our videos. Additionally, the fact that people taught themselves how to shoot and edit quality videos, even investing in small equipment like lights, selfie-sticks etc. was a major game-changer. It allowed us to get content from some of the remotest corners of the country - something that was unthinkable for us before the lockdown.

Sudeep Mishra, Co-Founder and Managing Director, TresVista

Besides the many learnings that the year gave us, it was also an opportunity to dig deeper into our ethos and make ourselves strong as an organisation. 2021 will see us promoting meritorious workplace diversity, rolling out a new employee mobility work model, continued growth in hiring, and technology integration. We are confident that the year will be productive and will enable every TVite in fulfilling their potential.

Nilesh Shah, Chairman and Managing Director, Atlas Integrated Finance Ltd

This crisis has taught the importance of controlling your discretionary spending and saving today to have something tomorrow. One must save at least 7 months’ worth of basic fixed expenses into a separate safety fund. It also tells us to rethink our credit requirements wherein our fixed monthly liabilities must not be more than 25 percent of our net monthly income. It also highlighted the need to have health insurance in order to cover up the burgeoning hospital expenses. During good times, one must not start living beyond their means. Lastly, diversification is the key. Not only must you have your investments in different types of asset classes, but you must also create more than one source of income.

Amar Nagaram, CEO, Myntra

When we look back at the year that was, we realise how being people-centric, be it for your customers, employees or the ecosystem at large, remains key in any situation. The success of our journey through these times is a measure of how quickly and adeptly, we were able to cater to the evolving needs of our consumers and partners.

In the fashion space, change is a constant and our ability to address this aspect with great agility has stood us in good stead, and will continue to see us through exciting times ahead.

(Disclaimer: This is a rolling story and will be updated as and when more inputs are received from Indian startups, entrepreneurs, and industry experts.)

Edited by Anju Narayanan