On October 03, 2020 Centre for Entrepreneurship Development (CED) of Brac University (BracU), organized a webinar titled as “Bouncing Back in the Time of COVID 19: The Startup Stories”. The Founders and CEOs of three promising and established startups joined this seminar to share their experience during this pandemic.
Mr. Rafee Mizan Khan, CEO of Ten’s 360 shared his experience of managing his startup in the time of COVID-19. Ten’s 360 is a digital marketing company which provides services in three layers. Being an incubatee of the Business Incubation Centre of Brac University, Ten’s 360’s office was located at the university premises. As lockdown started from March 2020, they had to operate from home. Their business faced hard times at the first phase of the lockdown but later they tried to pivot their business model. They shortlisted their customer list to identify the potential customer for this emergency period and tried to modify their service portfolios according to their requirement.
Mr. Shah Paran, founder & CEO of HandyMama divided the whole pandemic situation into three phases – pre-COVID, COVID and post-COVID and to fight back this unprecedented COVID-19 situation HandyMama followed a complex lean operation. Being a labor oriented organization which provides physical cleaning and repair maintenance services door to door where social distance is almost impossible, their operation was almost stopped. To survive their business, they had to let go most of their workforce. They came with a new strategy for cost optimization, so that they can maintain positive cash management. To gear up their business they came up with a new product line in August 2020. Special deals and concessions received from their service provider also helped them to survive in this situation. Mr. Paran mentioned that this situation makes him keep an eye on the balance sheet and think twice before any spending which he never did in the pre-COVID situation.
Ms. Rubaiyat Sadia, the chairperson and COO of Nexel Research Ltd. focused on the cost optimization process during the crisis period which they learned through their operations during the pandemic time. She also highlighted the importance of promotion and networking to recover the crisis moment. Referring to her organization as a COVID child, Ms. Sadia said though her organization started its operation in February 2020, it flourished during the time of pandemic. They took the advantage of COVID-19 and started their business operations keeping the situation in mind. They took up different social and humanitarian research projects and also volunteered when needed which also brought fame for them. As they emphasized on social and development projects, they received work orders from several organizations including International projects that help them flourish their operations more. They also mitigate the problem of face to face data collection as social distancing is crucial in this emergency period through rediscovering some methods such as CATI (Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing). Ms. Sadia mentioned as excessive or unnecessary expenditure creates a pressure on taxation, so they ensured proper utilization of their expenditure and tried to avoid all overhead costs which are not directly involved in their core business and outsourced most of their activities including web design, marketing and HR related activities. Moreover, she emphasized on networking with the experienced entrepreneurs and business persons of the industry, whose insights would help the startups to recover from such situations.
The participants of the webinar have made a number of questions and comments regarding these discussions and hoped that effective preventive measures will be taken to make the startups bounce back after any adverse situation.
Professor Dr. Rahim B. Talukdar, Adviser, CED-BRACU and the chair of the webinar said that the startups are continuously facing challenges and their reality is harder in this COVID-19 pandemic situation. So strategies should be formulated to figure out survival measures for these startups to face such situations. He thanked all the discussants and participants of the program for sharing their experiences during pandemic. He also thanked Dr. Mahfuzur Rahman, Senior Lecturer at Lincoln University to share his insights regarding the startups to bounce back during COVID-19.
Mr. Shamim Ehsanul Haque, Assistant Professor, Brac Business School and Senior Research Fellow, CED-BRACU was the moderator of this web event.