5 Indian businesses that pivoted to survive and grow amidst COVID-19 pandemic
It's been six months since the people of India are surviving through the threat of coronavirus. The lockdown imposed on March 24 added woes to not only entrepreneurs but to the service class people as well, who suffered job loss and salary cuts.
While the Indian businesses were struggling to survive in these tough times, some entrepreneurs didn’t lose hope. Rather, they pivoted their business operations to diversify their portfolio and persisted to grow.
Here are five Indian businesses that pivoted their business to survive and grow amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Karan Bose, Founder, Hula Global
The nationwide lockdown announced in March to fight the coronavirus pandemic came out like a bolt from the blue for businesses. With salaries and overhead costs to pay, companies across India feared shutdown, and entrepreneurs were in dire straits.
While some are still striving hard to stay afloat in the business, others are pivoting operations to not just survive but also emerge as winners during the pandemic.
Karan Bose, Founder of Hula Global, a garment manufacturing company, also pivoted his business to manufacture N95 masks and surgical gowns, among other essential items, in the time of coronavirus.
In an interaction with SMBStory, he says,
“Hula Global is an apparel manufacturing company for wholesale buying. We produce garments for both men and women, and act as an OEM for various retailers across the world.”
Noida-based Hula Global was founded in 2018, and the business was doing well until the coronavirus pandemic hit the country. Karan says, to run the business operations and tide through the hard times, he diversified its business into manufacturing PPE kits, N95 masks, face shields, etc., to meet the rising demand for such products in the country.
Karan says Hula Global is now clocking an annual turnover of Rs 5 crore.
As the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown crippled the economy across the world, many businesses faced this adversity with fortitude.
Coworking spaces, particularly, have been hit hard during the pandemic. With social distancing and work from home becoming the norm, the future of coworking spaces remains uncertain, at least till the wave of the pandemic fades away.
The story of Workshaala is an example of how a company emerged out of the COVID-19 crisis stronger.
Founded in 2013 by Manoj Khandelwal, the Bengaluru-based company is a coworking space. As most people started working from home due to the coronavirus, the company came up with an initiative called ‘Homescape,’ to provide furniture to people working from home. It is providing tables, chairs, and desks to help improve the individual’s productivity and provide them with comfort and ease at the same time.
He says, “The ideation of Homescape happened when we saw people facing issues while setting up offices at home. This was affecting their productivity enormously. Since work from home is going to become the norm in the coming days, we decided to provide furniture to these people.”
Rahul Bajaj took over his family business in 2010 after finishing his MBA from Amity University. By then, Shree Shakti Enterprises — a bulk trader of steel utensils started by his grandfather in 1956 — was over half a century old.
In 1997, Rahul’s father established the company’s first manufacturing unit in Delhi, and launched the brand PNB Kitchenmate. By the turn of the millennium, Shree Shakti became a manufacturer and seller of essential kitchenware.
Between 2010 and 2019, he opened three new manufacturing units, expanded the company’s workforce to 500, and increased its turnover from Rs 10 crore to Rs 140 crore, growing at an average of 40 percent year on year.
PNB Kitchenmate diversified its portfolio to nearly 3,000 products across pressure cookers, casseroles, saucepans, woks, plates, lunchboxes, cooking pots, and even puja thalis.
In 2019, Shree Shakti also joined Walmart’s Supplier Development Programme — Vriddhi — in India. Walmart Vriddhi is the US retail giant’s commitment to train, support, and prepare 50,000 MSMEs to ‘Make in India’ for global supply chains.
But come 2020, and Shree Shakti — like most businesses in the world — would hit a speed bump. The coronavirus pandemic ravaged industries, paused economic activity, shut factories, and rendered hordes of people jobless. Shree Shakti had to close all its manufacturing units in Sonipat, Haryana, as India went into a lockdown in late March. Consumption fell drastically, and sales of non-essential items hit the south.
Almost compelled to innovate to survive, the company started building products that could come in handy in the present crisis. From sensor-based sanitiser dispensers to hands-free hand wash systems, and automatic foot sanitisers, Shree Shakti ventured into uncharted territory.
Rahul started building the first prototype within days of the lockdown and installed the first unit of the hand wash system in his colony.
The product comes in different sizes and is priced between Rs 15,000 and Rs 25,000 apiece. The touch-free device dispenses soap or hand wash if you press a lever with your foot. You push a second lever for water to rinse your hands. And, the third part of the unit comes with a sanitisation tray for footwear.
Neetta Goel, Founder, Bioline India
When the first coronavirus case in India surfaced in January 2020, no one knew the extent of the virus’s impact on our lives. The World Health Organisation (WHO) termed COVID-19 a ‘real threat’ in March 2020, when the cases were gradually increasing in India. And, once sleeping products like masks and hand sanitisers started selling like hot cakes — flying off the shelves and off of ecommerce portals.
Neeta Goel, Founder of Bioline India, narrates a similar story with ULV Bio Fogger, a product that was developed in 2005.
She tells SMBStory, “We have been supplying them to the local hospitals for sterilisation. However, it wasn’t into demand until coronavirus hit us badly.”
She shares how COVID-19 skyrocketed the demand of this once slow-moving product so much so that the team is working 24x7 to meet the demand, pivoting its business operations.
Based in Indore, Bioline India was founded by Neeta Goel and her late husband Rajeev Goel in 2001 to manufacture and supply affordable medical equipment to masses.
Kamayani Naresh, a retired Indian Navy officer, claims to have developed a long and sustainable solution to boost immunity — zyropathy — which is named for the word ‘Zyro’ and means helping humanity. Naresh is the founder of Zyro Health Care Pvt Ltd, a Delhi-based company that provides food and herbal supplements.
In an interview with SMBStory, Naresh reveals what zyropathy is, and how it can help treat coronavirus.
The USP of zyropathy is that it is a complete wellness solutions provider. It combines Ayurveda with modern medicines such as food supplements to eradicate the ailment completely from the body.
Big companies talk about wellness; they even have products that contribute to the health of the people, but there is no system to guide them. Zyropathy fulfills these gaps by providing consultations that are backed by modern medicine. In other words, it is the modern form of Ayurveda. Naresh says,
Coronavirus has affected us badly. The next six months are extremely critical, and I believe that we will lose at least five to seven crore lives. This virus has proven to be an all-weather one and has settled in our habitat. It cannot be eradicated so easily because of its versatility. It is here to stay.
Zyro Health Care has come up with a product called Preventika, which is used to boost immunity. A lot of companies are also coming up with different products to combat the virus.
It took the company 14 years to develop Preventika, which has 14 locally sourced herbs, including curcumin. It is not specifically for coronavirus, but to boost the overall immune system, Naresh says.
The company uses 100 percent natural ingredients for making Zyro Naturals and food supplements. However, no drugs, steroids, immunosuppressants, and harmful ingredients are used.