As the pandemic continues and employees live and work in the new normal, startups have been grappling with their own share of issues — right from reimagining their services to driving company DNA in a remote work environment. ET speaks to five startup founders on the challenges their companies have faced and how they plan to tackle these in a post-Covid world:
Varun Khaitan, Cofounder, Urban Company
After being completely shut in April, our business has bounced back strongly since June. The biggest challenge for us now is reimagining our services in light of the post-Covid world. We have to focus on steady business growth while ensuring 100% compliance of safety standards.
We are dealing with this in different ways. For instance, we have moved a large part of our training modules online — all our 30,000 service professionals are being trained through online video platforms.
We plan to grow our business by 3x over the next year and bring over 50,000 new service partners on our platform. As the economy continues to move towards recovery, our objective is to create more jobs while delivering services safely to our consumers.
Swati Bhargava, Cofounder, CashKaro
Evolving to the new normal
Our business took a hit when ecommerce was badly affected during the initial days of the lockdown. In June, our revenues bounced back, and we are now on an aggressive growth trajectory for the months ahead. We have hired 40-odd people since the lockdown began, and they have all been interviewed and onboarded virtually.
When everyone is working remotely for an extended period of time, there is a difficulty in driving company vision and culture, but we have evolved our strategy to deal with this. One of the ways we’re doing this is through hosting a morning talk show every day, where all 150 employees log in to connect with each other. This video call is not just about sharing company numbers but helps bring people closer — particularly those who joined during the lockdown and haven’t met the rest of the team.
Vamsi Krishna, CEO & Cofounder, Vedantu
Methodical in virtual context
In the initial days of the pandemic, our challenges were more from a business standpoint. Now, a new kind of challenge has emerged in the very nature of working. Since we are expected to work from home for the rest of the year and possibly beyond that, we are trying to bring in more efficiency into the processes.
We’ve had to tweak our interviewing and onboarding processes to make them more methodical within a virtual context. We’re also reinventing the way we do our strategy planning. For instance, we have increased our pace of communication — townhalls which were held once a quarter are now held every fortnight, we have regular checkins,and we encourage employees to stay connected on ideas and projects.
Abhay Hanjura, Cofounder, Licious
Making deeper connections
One of the biggest challenges we’re facing as a company is driving engagement and alignment. Traditionally this has always been the role of human resources teams, but now as Covid-19 has disrupted everything, we are seeing that leaders themselves have to take responsibility for driving deeper connections.
My cofounder Vivek Gupta and I have been out on the field since the early days of the pandemic, when the agri supply chains broke down — we worked on getting our licensing and processes back in place. Since then, we have worked on growing our business and ironing out issues that arose, while at the same time prioritising people’s safety and livelihoods.
We’re also driving conversations and programmes around mental health and continuing to keep employee engagement at the top of our priority list, as we gear up for 5x growth during this time.
Chaitanya Ramalingegowda, Cofounder, Wakefit.co
Getting everybody fired up
Our company has been seeing high demand for sleep and home solutions and products during the pandemic. Topmost on our mind has been ensuring that we’re able to maintain this growing demand while maintaining our DNA of customer centricity.
As everyone works remotely, driving company culture can be difficult, especially to the 200-odd people we hired since the pandemic began who’ve never had a chance to interact with their colleagues outside of the virtual world.
Every two weeks, my cofounder Ankit Garg and I meet with the recent hires, and we regularly send out company updates and plans for the coming month. We’re ensuring teams have regular huddles. Emotional and mental wellbeing is the crucial factor — the productive professional outcome is a by-product of it.