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BENGALURU : With revenues nosediving as much as 90%, several startups in India witnessed severe disruption across their core businesses following the covid-19 outbreak.

While revenues took a big hit, the pandemic has propelled many companies to look at new business segments.

Gurugram-based payments firm MobiKwik tapped on the tailwinds around digital payments and insurance to soften the impact of covid-19 on revenue.

“In-store payments have gone up because card or cash is something consumers don’t want to use anymore. Our revenues were down by 35% during covid-19 lockdown, and are still down by 25%, but since we diversified in multiple categories, over the past years, we expect a full recovery by October," said Upasana Taku, co-founder of MobiKwik, at Mint’s Pivot or Perish webinar.

In June, MobiKwik joined hands with e-commerce firms including Flipkart, ixigo, Snapdeal, Confirmtkt amid the global covid-19 pandemic to help them launch bill payments on their platforms, through the ‘MobiKwik Biller Stack’. Earlier in April, MobiKwik also launched a health insurance product on its platform to insure customers from covid. Recently, it also launched mpay.me- a UPI payment link service to send and receive money from any UPI payment app.

“We have 17 business units of which 2-3 contribute a large part of the revenue and some of them have done well in this crisis. But 5-6 of our business units saw more than 90% of revenues disrupted .We were thankfully well capitalised, primary operations were going well and could handle the market variations without being short term in our approach," added Yashish Dahiya, CEO & co-founder, Policybazaar.

With restaurants shut during the covid-led lockdown, food-aggregator unicorn Swiggy doubled down onto the grocery segment and launched task-management service Genie, and used its idle delivery fleet to deliver orders in this new segment.

“The food delivery business has gone through a roller-coaster, with a dynamic lockdown still continuing due to the pandemic. We are now working on consumer trust and getting consumer frequency back. But we got into all hyperlocal categories, where our expertise allowed us to exist in. Today, we have a recovering business, and it's safe to say that things will be back to full recovery in the next 3-4 quarters," Vivek Sunder, COO, Swiggy said.

Though frequency of orders are impacted, individuals continue to order large ticket sizes, owing to the trend around family ordering, which is improving efficiency.

“For Swiggy, covid-19 was the first time it interacted with kiranas, and we brought in a digital module for onboarding, which otherwise was a physical process. Alternatively we used a delivery fleet to make task-based orders. And we will continue with these efficiencies in the post-covid world," Sunder said.

By June, food aggregators including Swiggy and Zomato were looking at alcohol delivery in Tier 2 and 3 cities of Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha.

“For Swiggy, covid-19 was the first time it interacted with kiranas, and we brought in a digital module for onboarding, which otherwise was a physical process. Alternatively, we used an idle delivery fleet to make task-based orders. And we will continue with these efficiencies in the post-covid world."

Not just efficiencies, but the pandemic has also attracted significant investments and attention to tech-first solutions and core values of retaining customer loyalty.

“Almost 20% of SMB businesses were not absorbing technology, in spite of investments. But now we have seen significant organisation adoption towards technology. Investment in technology is the way to go and the crisis is a challenge for us to cross," said Shanthi Padmanabhan, VP, Customer Success, Salesforce India.

“For the B2C sector the pandemic is a good time to make relationships with the consumer, and focus on loyal customers, while investing significantly in improving loyalty," added Navneet Chahal, partner, Bain & Co.

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