The last year was undoubtedly a difficult one for Indian businesses. Indian government data indicates the country’s economy shrank by 7.5 percent as of September 2020. For small business, it has been even tougher, with a June 2020 survey from the All India Manufacturers Organization indicating one-third of Indian small and medium-sized enterprises faced definite closure. But for many T-Hub entrepreneurs, 2020 was in fact a time to transform and pivot their business. They turned the challenges of the last year into opportunities, creating more customer-centric organisations. We spoke to seven of them to understand their resolutions for 2021 and how they were planning for the year ahead. Here are some of the inspiring plans and learnings they shared with us.
Innovating. Experimenting. Pivoting
At space tech company Matdun, the organisation rapidly pivoted to meet the demands of the new normal. Co-founder Hitesh Dundi reveals, “The last year was quite tumultuous. We had launched our startup in March and had only just begun product development and recruitment. But then the lockdown happened. So, we moved a lot of things online, and are still trying to get through the pandemic in whatever way we can.”
Looking to the future, he believes that there will be many exciting challenges ahead for his startup in 2021. The year will see many new solutions. But these will come with their own challenges.
Hitesh tells us, “Right from the very beginning, Matdun has believed in innovation. So, my resolution would be to keep innovating, experimenting, and pivoting.”
He signs off, “Whatever the setbacks, we will find innovative ways to meet these challenges. We will have to keep experimenting in new ways.”
Making a customer-centric business
Like at Matdun, the impact of the pandemic was catastrophic for CricClubs. In March 2020, the startup was already pioneering the way in cricket technology, with its solution being used in more than 57 countries by 16,000 leagues. But looking back over the last year, Founder and CEO Ganesh Nallapareddy admits, “It was a bad year for us, like for many other people. There was no sport being played anywhere in the world. But we used that time to build more customer-centric applications and products.
This experience continues to drive his resolution for 2021. Ganesh says, “We want to be customer centric rather than business centric. We want to try and understand what our customers need. So, our resolution is to think from our customer’s perspective in everything that we do.”
Transforming. Creating. Connecting.
Across industries, entrepreneurs echoed the same resilience as their fledging startups faced this once-in-a-lifetime crisis with courage.
At Smart Poultry Solutions, the startup has been working to create smart management systems for the poultry industry, using IoT technology. With the pandemic bringing the national economy to a close, COO Archana Chindam recalls, “2020 was my toughest year. Yet, it was also my most enthralling journey as an entrepreneur. I look forward to working with more customers and Industry leaders as we march ahead.”
She remains optimistic in her outlook for the year ahead. She tells us, “I’m extremely excited about transforming the poultry process in 2021 and creating solutions to connect challenges, products and customers.
Making breakthrough technologies and employment opportunities
While more established businesses floundered during the pandemic, AI and computer vision startup Tericsoft Technology Solutions expanded into a new geography. True to its business promise of using its technology to solve real problems, post lockdown it launched an AI-based computer vision product to solve the social distancing challenges of the pandemic. Its solution made it possible to detect crowd assembly, persons without a mask, the number of people moving in and out of a premise, body temperature, and more.
Looking into the new year, Co-Founder Abdul Rahman resolves to build this story of growth and high impact further. He says, “This year has been a good year, where we successfully pivoted business to grow in the U.S. market, and we would like to continue with this expansion. In 2021, our focus will be on growing our business. First, we would like to create breakthrough technologies & product market fit. Second, I became an entrepreneur to create jobs. So, I would like to keep generating new employment opportunities in the coming year. My focus will be on innovation and growth in the year ahead.”
Giving back to society
At home construction and monitoring company Hocomoco, the business disruption of the pandemic focused it more deeply on its vision of creating impact. The startup’s CEO Sripad Nandiraj affirms, “We at Hocomoco have always believed in giving back to society in some way or the other. Along with prioritizing our business goals and growth aspects, we do measure the impact we have created overall. We have been striving hard to create maximum positive impact among our clients, workforce and all our close stakeholders.”
Turning to the year ahead Sripad says, “Hocomoco is looking forward to achieving a total built up space of 25,00,000 square feet with the help of venture capital funding. We are also moving to four Tier II cities and two Tier I cities in the coming year. We are optimistic about touching more lives. Going forward, we are also looking at developing our technological solutions by developing a VR Walkthrough experience, a DPR application and a project management application to help us with our internal operations.
Sripad concludes, “For many of our customers, we have simplified what home building means. In addition, our workforce knows that even in adverse market situations, we will always support them. We aim to employ a larger workforce to cater to our growing number of patrons in the coming year. Be it a mason or an engineer, we are happy to build their careers and lives. Whatever work we have done till date, we think it had a ripple effect at the grassroot level. By organising the fragmented construction industry, we really look forward to making more lives better by encouraging employment within the organisation.”
Building a life
Yet even as the pandemic blurred the boundaries between personal and professional spaces, others like Deepak Upendra are seeking to arrive at a work-life balance. This co-founder of BoMoTix tells us, “My new year resolution is to start spending some time on my hobbies, with my family and friends. For the last three to four years, I had become habituated to working for about 15 hours a day. I hardly find time to spend with my family and friends, or with my hobbies. This year, I will be trying to reduce that to 10-12 hours, and spend more time on learning to play guitar, which I bought during the lockdown, but haven’t had a chance to touch. I would also like to spend more time exercising, going on more rides, and spending more time at home, away from my laptop and phone.
Alongside this, he is building more robust processes at BoMoTix. He says, “On the professional side, my target is to get my team to handle work without me. Right now, my team develops all the pieces, but I have to put all of them together to get the feature out for testing and then as a product. This year, my target is to empower my team to deploy the code they are developing, so that the whole company does not come to a standstill if I am not around.”
While some turn their gaze inwards, Director of Life Circle Health Services Priya Anant combined this with a steadfast focus on external impact. While the need for effective healthcare peaked during the pandemic, this was not without its challenges.
As Priya explains, “2020 was a difficult year for Life Circle since business as usual was disrupted. But these difficulties made us look inwards and consider what we wanted to prioritize. For instance, when we went from a fully office-based operation in five cities to our team members working from home, it was very important that processes worked seamlessly both for the caregivers and the families who hired our services. Worker safety assumed significance. This involved remote education for our on-ground team and creating an environment for safe behaviour at all times. In a way, I would say our efforts were centred on what was core to our work. We focused on quality and safety, both for our team and families of seniors.
Turning to the future, Priya says, “We look forward to generating many more jobs, helping as many families with seniors, as is possible. We also look forward to forging regional and national collaborations that help us bring our work to impact more lives. We are grateful to T-Hub for all the support.”
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