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 of Amazon

Entrepreneurship is tough and not everyone’s cup of tea. It means fighting continuously for an idea that someone believes in. This Digital Dribble article shows the various aspects of entrepreneurship during this global pandemic.

We will begin by analyzing the current impact of COVID-19 on the world as a whole and India in particular. Then we will delve into the impact of COVID-19 on entrepreneurship. Finally, we will look at a few examples of entrepreneurs battling against the current and making their mark.

The Impact of COVID-19

Covid-19 has been disastrous for the world and although the death rate has steadily declined, it continues to wreak havoc even today. The deadly virus is now ubiquitous but not all countries have been hit equally hard. While there are supply chain issues that need to be addressed. vaccinations have already begun in several countries

Despite its massive population, India has been able to control the virus much better than other countries. With mass vaccinations of target age groups already in progress, it is not long before India becomes completely free of the current nightmare.

Impact of COVID-19 on Entrepreneurship

COVID-19 has been pernicious for entrepreneurship, as is evident from the image below.  It shows the drop in the creation of firms/companies during 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]

However, there is also a silver lining to be noted here. Many start-ups have emerged from crises. Uber, Airbnb, Groupon, and Pinterest were all formed post the global financial crisis. Companies that offer radical change and innovations in the fields of home delivery, telemedicine, ed-tech, and medicine delivery can 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 changing the face of 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. It has forced entrepreneurs to adapt to survive and become creative with the limited number of options in their hands. The transitional effect of COVID-19 is here to stay and entrepreneurs would be prudent to embrace the disruption instead of allocating resources to combat it.

Some of the changes that have now become 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 two years now, webinars have become the norm of the day. They are being actively used by entrepreneurs to discuss ideas, achieve thought leadership, get funding and find leads for their companies. These webinars offer a slew of advantages: 

  • Webinars have now taken the place of traditional conferences at a fraction of the cost of their counterparts
  • Webinars are soon to become a mainstream marketing strategy as they offer an excellent way to interact with customers and get them on board 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 digital adoption by 2 to 3 years. As brands, entrepreneurs and organizations understand the importance of digital marketing and, more specifically social media marketing, the importance of content will become increasingly evident. Social media marketing has to be utilized effectively to reap benefits. For instance, being overtly promotional discourages potential customers from interacting with the brand. Content must add value to the customer’s life. 

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

Exemplary Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is one of the most challenging endeavours to take up during a pandemic. This section is the literal embodiment of the phrase, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”.

Combining Social Cause and Business

This LinkedIn post is the perfect example of thinking out of the box and making decisions that benefit society. Kushal had an offer from one of the best colleges in the country (Indian School of Business) 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 amid the ongoing lockdowns. This led to the inception of ‘Blissful Indulgence Mumbai’ which went from receiving 1 to 2 orders a week in the first month, to receiving 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 on 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]

Want to read more about how the pandemic affected businesses? You might enjoy this article.

References

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