Entrepreneurship in the times of COVID-19

I knew that if I failed, I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying

-Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO Amazon

Entrepreneurship is tough and not everyone’s cup of tea. It means fighting continuously for an idea that the someone believes in. This article strives to show the various aspects of entrepreneurship during the times of a pandemic. The article begins by analysing the current impact of COVID-19 on the world as a whole and then on India. It then proceeds to delve into the impact of COVID-19 on entrepreneurship and follows it with how the pandemic has changed the entire scenario as a whole. Finally, the article handpicks a few examples of entrepreneurs battling against the current and making it big despite the challenges surrounding them.

The impact of COVID-19

Covid-19 has been disastrous on the entirety of the world and still continues to wreak havoc till today. The death rate has steadily declined and is currently at 2.22% while the recovery rate is 79.14%. Although the deadly virus is now ubiquitous, not all countries are equally hit hard. Vaccinations have already begun in several countries although there are supply chain issues that need to be addressed.

Fig 1.1 [Source- https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/]

India despite its massive population has actually been able to control the virus much better than other countries. According to current data, India’s death rate stands at 1.40% while its recovery rate is an impressive 96.89%. With mass vaccinations of target age groups already under progress, it is not long before India becomes completely free of the current nightmare.

Fig 1.2 [Source- https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/india/]

Impact of COVID-19 on entrepreneurship

COVID-19 has hit entrepreneurship hard and it is evident from the image below which shows the drop in creation of firms/companies during the months of March and April 2020, the inception of the pandemic and a grim foreshadowing of the harshest months to come. Portugal’s 70% decline and Turkey’s almost 60% decline support the statement that COVID took a harsh toll on the economy.

Fig 2.1 [Source- https://voxeu.org/article/challenges-and-opportunities-start-ups-time-covid-19]

There is indeed a silver lining here, a glimmer of hope as is in most depressing situations. Many start-ups have emerged from crises like Uber, Airbnb, Groupon, Pinterest to mention a few which all followed after the global financial crisis. Companies that offer radical change and innovations in the fields of home delivery, telemedicine, ed-tech, medicine delivery can literally become overnight stars in the age of the pandemic.

The image below shows the amount of post-entry employment growth for digital and non-digital companies after a specific number of years. Digital companies have the highest post entry employment growth which helps in job generation and helps turn the economy.

Fig 2.2 [Source- https://voxeu.org/article/challenges-and-opportunities-start-ups-time-covid-19]

How has COVID-19 changed the entrepreneurship landscape?

In addition to disrupting entire industries, COVID-19 has turned the entrepreneurship landscape on its head forcing entrepreneurs to adapt to survive and also become extremely creative with the limited number of options in their hands. The transitional effect of COVID-19 is here to stay and it is better if entrepreneurs embrace the disruption instead of allocating resources in order to combat it.

Some of the changes that by now have part and parcel of an entrepreneur’s life are enumerated below-

The increased usage of webinars

With lockdowns and social distancing in effect for more than a year now, webinars have become the norm of the day. They are being actively used by entrepreneurs to speak on topics, achieve thought leadership, getting funding and leads for their companies amongst other things. These webinars offer a slew of advantages some of which are mentioned below-

  • Webinars have now taken up the place of traditional conferences and at the fraction of a cost of its traditional counterparts
  • Webinars are soon to become a mainstream marketing strategy as it offers an excellent way to interact with customers and get them onboard to buy the company’s new products/services
Fig 3.1 [Source- https://www.genglobal.org/bangladesh/webinar-future-startups-post-covid-19]
Fig 3.2 [Source- https://inc42.com/videos/business-in-the-times-of-covid-19-webinar-by-women-entrepreneurship-platform-niti-aayog/]
  • Companies like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype are facilitating the supply of catering to an increase in demand for video conferencing options. Zoom’s share price has more than tripled during the pandemic

Content=King!

Research shows that COVID-19 has accelerated the digital adoption by 2 to 3 years in a few months and as brands, entrepreneurs and organizations understand the importance of digital marketing and more specifically social media marketing, the importance of content will be more and more evident. Social Media Marketing has to be effectively utilized in order to reap the benefits, for instance, being overtly promotional discourages potential customers from interacting with the brand, content has to add value to the customer and potential customer’s life.

Fig 3.3 [Source- https://www.smartinsights.com/social-media-marketing/social-media-strategy/new-global-social-media-research/]

Some glaring examples of entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is definitely one of the most challenging things to do and during times like COVID-19, the challenges are often times exacerbated. This section is the literal embodiment of the phrase, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”. However, the best entrepreneurs are those who make even the worse situations work for them and this section demonstrates just that.

Combining social cause and business together

This LinkedIn post is a glaring example of thinking differently and making decisions that help the collective society around. Kushal had a joining offer from one of the best colleges in the country (ISB) but instead chose to manufacture PPE kits to help frontline workers and essential personnel combat the pandemic. It is because of entrepreneurs like Kushal Agarwal that India which started as a country deficient in PPE kits went to became its 2nd largest manufacturer during the span of the pandemic.

Fig 4.1 [Source- https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6657850726628323328/]
Fig 4.2 [Source- https://cutt.ly/CzmuPrk]

What’s cooking?

Mumbai housewife, Veena Manek’s life changed when she got a request to bake a birthday cake in the midst of the ongoing lockdowns. This led to the inception of ‘Blissful Indulgence Mumbai’ where from receiving 1 to 2 orders a week in the first month, now receives 7 to 9 orders a day! This goes on to show that finding and exploiting someone’s niche area of interest can lead to successful businesses during times when even large corporations are struggling.

Fig 4.3 [Source- https://www.facebook.com/blissfulindulgencemumbai/photos/a.129308825419283/252810606402437/]

Women power!

GoParties was an entertainment tech start-up that focused giving real-time updates about all things entertainment like parties, concerts, bands and artists in the user’s city. COVID-19 had hit the entertainment sector pretty hard and the founder Shivaarti Bajaj knew that the landscape post-COVID would be entirely different.

GoParties pivoted to BoxEngage, an online video sharing platform that is touted as the next Twitter. It became viral as the government banned 59 Chinese Apps throughout the Indian subcontinent. With more than a million users currently using the platform, it is seeing organic growth to the tune of 70% to 80% and there are plans to launch an app soon.

Advertising BoxEngage on GoParties Facebook Page
Fig 4.4 [Source- https://www.facebook.com/goparties/]
Fig 4.5 [Source- https://boxengage.com/home]

References

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