Decoding the startup journey in India from a publicist’s lens
2020 and so far in 2021 saw the devastating pandemic with the ability of steering lives and corporates off course. The startup space in India, however, is on a different trajectory. While giant conglomerates were concerned about managing operations, fraught with logistics issues and cutting costs in order to remain sustainable, startups were much faster to be back on their feet and running, despite the pandemic.
This novel situation required agility, an ability to adapt quickly, manage with lesser resources, finding solutions to newer challenges, staying connected while working remotely, having technology in its backbone for end-to-end seamless flow, and venturing into unchartered places to identify issues and provide solutions – all of which are possessed by homegrown startups.
The Startup Landscape
Startups in India have always been a promising and sunrise sector. The industry got leverage with the Govt. of India announcing the Startup India initiative in 2015, aimed to nurture and grow the space in India.
With a population like India, there is an immense scope of unchartered territories that can be converted into opportunities, and the startups did just that. In fact, not only has this industry been known to create solutions to challenges, but also create jobs. Ranging across BFSI, technology, F&B, logistics, entertainment and healthcare, among others, startups in India have gotten it all covered.
2021 witnessed at least six new unicorns (startups with a valuation of more than US$1 billion) emerging in just one week, last month. Given their ability to become cash cows, startups have been attracting international as well as domestic funding.
The Aftermath of the Pandemic
The pandemic hit the startup industry just like every other industry, causing mayhem at the beginning. For instance, logistics were hampered, leading to supply issues for startups in this space. For some others where startups were the vendors, faced payment issues by corporates. There was a general sense of cash crunch for continuing daily operations seamlessly.
Information overload was another issue that adversely impacted the sector. The geopolitical tension between India and China was also a reason that caused disruption in the sector. Some homegrown brands gained out of it while some others perished.
Recipe to Success
The differentiating factor between those who flourished and those that perished was creating relevance. The startups that could create relevance for the brand and keep themselves as a top of the mind recall emerged winners and even expanded their businesses in the pandemic.
One common factor for their success was technology. The technology-driven initiatives that ensured people could conduct their business as usual, through online transactions, were highly lauded and turned to in such hours of need. Be it digital payments, online trading, delivery of essentials, continuity of education, etc., consumers preferred brands that let them to all of these from the safety of their homes.
With social distancing norms in place, people increasingly looked for solutions to keep their lives as seamless as possible. And the startups that rose to the occasion were the preferred partner of choice for these existing consumers and also sought the attention of potential consumers. The conversions for such businesses skyrocketed.
Another key factor that led to the success of startups was their presence in social and digital media. With limited contact, everybody turned to these platforms for information. Ensuring product and service launches online, key announcements and strategies being posted on social media to maintain transparency, executing interesting contests to keep existing and potential customers engaged, startups executed integrated campaigns across forums.
These communications were done directly by the startups in some cases and in some other cases by the relevant influencers that were engaged by these brands for outreach. The nature of such platforms is that it encourages a dialogue, two-way communication that startups definitely capitalized on. The successful ones were those that understood consumer challenges and their sentiments and read between the lines to deliver the needful, within time. It is advisable to keep a steady stream of targeted content flowing without overwhelming the audience.
Technology — A Defining Factor
Startups have usually grown in the face of challenges and limited resources. A noteworthy factor for this industry has been what has caused the downfall of some corporates and startups have been the exact reason responsible for the growth of their counterparts. Technology has usually been a defining factor, as has been the role of constant engagement, in deciding the success or failures of these startups. After all, it’s all about identifying the opportunities and acting on time. One just needs to keep looking for the rainbow, because rest assured, there’s a pot of gold waiting at the end.
Guest contributor Gaurav Patra, Founder and Director of Value 360 Communications, an award-winning PR company with a focused approach towards enabling early stage businesses to gain traction and visibility in both traditional and digital media. Any opinions expressed in this article are strictly that of the author.