The business world has always been seen as a predatory environment, but these days are over. Now, entrepreneurs are moving forward from lone-wolf mentality to collaborative mindset. Day by day, the uphill battle startup founders are facing is getting tougher as Corona virus is spreading its mayhem across and beyond the country.
Pakistani Startup Market was just starting to pick up momentum when this unforeseen crisis struck the world. Startup owners are confused and uncertain about their future as the country is facing major lock downs with events canceled, businesses closed, and masses quarantined. As said earlier, even before this crisis, the world was moving toward an economy that is based on the foundation of mutual collaboration. This is a perfect time for the business community to realize this opportunity and take measures to help each other navigate through these unprecedented times. Supporting each other during this turmoil will make better chances of creating a stronger Pakistani Startup ecosystem, one that can pick up pace once things get back to normal.
Here are a few ways on how startups can support and help each other to triumphantly emerge on the other end of the pandemic.
These times require startups to collaborate (not compete) with each other because ‘competition makes you faster, but collaboration makes you better’. It’s time to look outwards and come together to create a symbiotic relationship in order to support each other and exchange survival hacks. Sam McAfee, a California-based startup founder, shared the idea of soft competitors when talking about how startups can help each other on an online platform, ‘CoFoundersLab’. The idea behind this is collaborating with your competitors because together you can be stronger. He shared his experience that those startups who have complementary product or services can join resources and co-target and co-sell to their customers. There is a greater chance of getting hold of high-profile clients if two startups with complimentary product/services sink their teeth into it.
Startups should help each other by playing the role of ‘thought leadership’ in their respective areas of expertise by giving each other useful insights, new ideas, and unique point of views related to emerging problems. Thought leaders are essentially expert go-to individuals or organizations in a specific area, the ones who deeply understand their business as well as the broader marketplace. So, if you are good at something, publish it and share it with others in the form of articles, interviews, podcasts, blog-posts, videos, research, etc. or any other form of content. One area on which we direly need thought leadership content is business continuity and survival as it is a common challenge faced by most businesses.
Doing this is a win-win for you as well as those for whom you can be of service. By publishing high-quality thought leadership content, your brand or company will benefit as someone known for insight and authority in that area of expertise and will enable fledgling startups through your knowledge and insights. Passing on your experience and wisdom to those who need it will stimulate trust and support in the overall startup ecosystem.
Startup.pk has published several ‘GuruTalks’ given by seasoned entrepreneurs on topics like attracting investment, purpose of startup, key terms of investment, etc. that you can explore on the website.
The corona virus outbreak has forced companies around the world to close their offices and start operating remotely. In this scenario, many tech-based startups and businesses might already be savvy with remote working tools and have the necessary policy and infrastructure in place, but there are other startups who are new to remote working and are struggling to find any guidance as to how to use these tools and how to manage their team remotely. For those who are well-acquainted with the dynamics and tools of remote working should take upon the responsibility of giving guidance and advice to those who find it hard to adjust to the new normal of remote working. They can do this in the form of organizing webinars, podcasts, virtual workshops, or tutorials.
Nishant Shah who is a Product Consultant at ‘Technology Mentor’ says that in order to support each other, startups should back other startups in their areas of weakness. ‘A single startup cannot be good at everything’. Everyone can have their strengths or weaknesses related to one or more of such areas like creating business plans, managing PR, handling marketing, having relationship with investors, outreach to customers, etc. All these have a crucial role of barter which means that startup can make up for each other’s weak points by helping out through knowledge sharing and skill building.
Mentoring has always been considered important for startup success but now startups are feeling its need more than ever. They require mentorship especially related to the challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. Those founders who have seen challenges before and have an experience in weathering a storm can help the young startups keep afloat who are already breaking out in a cold sweat. These startup founders should show their presence on online mentoring platforms and share their knowledge and experience related to hacks of survival. All they need to do is search the internet for platforms where they can give free online webinars and/or podcasts in their field of expertise.
Similar to how Startup.pk shares expert advice and mentoring through their platform. Not only that but young startups also need guidance related to marketing, managing funds, and other business matters in the reshaping of business landscape. Startup.pk is doing its best in arranging online mentoring sessions for startup founders and aspiring entrepreneurs, connecting them with seasoned entrepreneurs and industry leaders who share their insight about how to work their way through this pandemic.
You can listen to the podcast of Sayyed Ahmad Masud, a renowned business coach/mentor, who is telling us some tips on surviving the Corona Lockdown.
Startups should team up and/or launch hackathons to develop possible solutions for challenges arising along with the COVID-19 crisis. Up till now, many hackathons have successfully been launched across the globe. Due to these hackathons, innovators, researchers, startups, and other business players can come together, and form teams consisting of experts huddled around to solve a problem. They can collaborate to use their creativity and ingenuity in order to come up with some unique solutions to minimize the impact of corona virus. These hackathons can play a great role in development of many revolutionary and innovative products that can help us find not only the challenges we are facing during the pandemic, but also in post-crisis period. The solutions can be in the form of websites, mobile phone apps, or anything of value.
With everything moving online, startups also need to seek ways to develop active and engaging virtual groups and communities which can serve as a platform for startups to interact and collaborate with each other. Now is the time to strengthen the ties more than ever and develop a unified front for collectively fighting the pandemic.
These communities will serve as hubs for networking, testing ideas, brainstorming, discussing issues, exchanging skills, conducting market research, sharing experiences, and coming up with solutions. This will bring together a bunch of like-minded individuals- entrepreneurs, partners, mentors, investors, employees, etc. who can acknowledge the challenges, posts about future events, share ecosystem news, and offer each other resources and support. Many virtual communities already exist, for example, you can join ‘Startup grind’ which is a global community connecting 2,000,000 entrepreneurs through local events, conferences, partnerships, and startup programs. If you want to create one of your own communities then social media platforms can come very handy. Just group together to ‘co-learn, co-build, and co-survive’ through this testing times.
It all comes down to YOU!
It’s your call as to whether you will support each other through this pandemic and how? But one thing is clear that it would be easier to survive this social and economic upheaval if you huddle up to face the posed challenges. Maintain your own unique identity doing what you do well but at the same time support each other through these uncertain times so that, the Pakistani startup ecosystem can emerge at the other end of this pandemic victorious with a few war wounds.