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Returning to a pre-covid operating environment may take anywhere between a couple of months to a year, but startups are taking a long-term view and using the time to innovate and create new market segments.

At Mint’s Pivot or Perish webinar on Thursday, top startup executives said while the return of normalcy remains uncertain, the turnaround time for innovation has shortened.

“While food delivery volumes are not close to their pre-covid levels, we’re entering new categories to recover revenue," said Swiggy’s chief operating officer (COO), Vivek Sunder. Swiggy launched its grocery delivery unit in 350 cities in the space of a week. It will take 3-4 quarters for food delivery to reach pre-covid figures, Sunder said.

While e-commerce firms were badly hit during the lockdown with non-essential deliveries restricted, for others, demand remained tepid even after the curbs were eased.

For payments firm MobiKwik, business in some segments almost disappeared while others saw rapid growth. Upasana Taku, co-founder and COO, MobiKwik, said that in April and May, the startup saw a 30-35% drop in revenue.

“Currently, it’s in the 20% zone and we expect revenue to recover by the end of September or October. While our in-store payments have increased, in our credit business, the numbers have gone down significantly," Taku said.

Yashish Dahiya, CEO and co-founder, PolicyBazaar, said the lockdown wiped off 5-6 of its business units. “…By that I mean, more than 90% of the revenue was gone. We did not have to close down key resources or department but continued our focus on the long-term and digitization," Dahiya said.

Sequoia Capital (India) managing director G.V. Ravishankar said that while deal activity dropped in April and May, it picked up in June and July. However, he expressed concern over the return of consumer demand or estimating demand in general, given the uncertainty that the current crisis has caused.

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