Pivot and Persist: To adapt to the new norm, Indian startups are deftly changing course and innovating amidst

By | Tenzin Pema | yourstory.com

YourStory’s Pivot and Persist series spotlights Indian startups that are pivoting to seize new business opportunities, transforming their business models and offerings to navigate the current COVID-19 crisis.

News of layoffs, furloughs, funding crunches, and shutdowns have wracked the Indian startup ecosystem in the past two months. As startups feel the full impact of the coronavirus-induced crisis, the majority of India’s 30,000-odd startups may be forced to shut shop as business activity comes to a standstill and funding dries up.

And yet, it’s not all gloom and doom in the startup world – at least for a nimble few.

Indeed, a growing number of startups are pivoting to seize new opportunities, transforming their business models and offerings to navigate the current crisis.

For some, this means diversifying into sectors like edtech and healthcare, which are bucking the trend in the current environment and seeing a significant uptick in demand as learning moves online and people become more health-conscious.

Yet others are reinventing themselves, with new or modified offerings to appeal to customers in the new normal where digital transformation and adoption has accelerated.

According to a survey of over 250 startups by Nasscom, around 54 percent of Indian startups are looking to pivot to new business opportunities, diversify into growth verticals like healthcare, and enhance focus on emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), and cloud computing.

Gurugram-based hospitality chain Zostel is one example of a startup that’s innovating for a post-COVID-19 world, where physical distancing has become the new norm. The startup is viewing this change as an opportunity to launch a new business stream – social-as-a-service – as it envisions a way to allow its community to socially engage with each other without leaving their homes.

Similarly, Chandigarh-based education startup Robochamps, which is focussed on infusing robotics-based learning in the Indian education curriculum by setting up robotics laboratories in schools across India, has now revamped its business model to a purely online platform. It has also started offering new courses in addition to those on robotics.

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