In such unprecedented times, where the global pandemic caused by COVID19 has brought the world on halt. The majority of the world’s population is under lockdown, but it’s predestined that in such times, the world is going to be irrevocably altered. It is very challenging for startups, yet full of amazing learning opportunities. There will be few mentors, few startups which will change the mainstream narrative and bring the impact. Catering to current scenarios, Headstart came up with a Virtual 1 -1 mentor session having 3 impeccable mentors with 3 burning topics and 13 shortlisted startups.

1.Business Continuity plan. Bipin Preet Singh, Founder, and CEO of MobiKwik mentored on the Business Continuity plan. He mentored startups around the areas of customer acquisition, expansion, and investment opportunities. Key takeaways from the session include:

• The advantage for the startups due to this pandemic would be a permanent shift in consumer’s behavior towards e-commerce, digital payment, and the use of other online sources.
• Startups like Warehousity, which deals with warehouses can extend partnerships with startups and giants like Amazon and Flipkart to offer their services. Moreover technologies like AWS can be used to scale up their business.
• Pandemic has severely affected the travel industry however it can see a potential increase in demand post-COVID as people are yearning for road trips and travels. Don’t you? Travel and Tourism startups like WanderTribe can consider this and essentially focus on providing cleanliness and hygiene services (sanitizers).
• It’s the time when the online space and retail sector companies like Megabooklet, IndiCollage, and Corporate Design should embrace technologies like AR, UX, etc, and move to the digital platform with a differentiation factor while collaborating with the right partners.

2. Maintaining stakeholders and partners. Aggois, Levitatee, HerMoneyTalks, Healthmug participated in the Session guided by Mr. Shashank Randev, who is Founder VC at 100X.VC having more than 15 years of experience with large companies and invested in several tech-enabled startups. Here are the key takeaways regarding how to present the startup lucrative to approaching relevant partners:

• Partners, stakeholders and investors focus on product differentiation and connect to people in that particular niche
• Linkedin is a great tool for leveraging connections. A “hi” can lead you to a conversation you never know. Possibly 99% won’t work but that 1% is what you are looking for.
Funding and revenue generation is invariably crucial to startups. Questions like what investors look in early-stage startups to product differentiation are inevitable?
• Early-stage Startup should primarily focus upon the number of customers buying their products and services.
• The increased number of loyal customers also helps the startup to get funded.VC tends to invest in the areas which are still untouched.
He concluded the session with a motivating message – “Every crisis is an opportunity and this is once in a lifetime crisis where founders are in the position to build out something very unique. There is a lot of scope of innovation for founders to be seen right now.”

3.Strategic marketing in the post COVID era. Vidur Vyas, CEO of Northside, Ex VP Marketing at Hike and Ex-CMO of PepsiCo, demystified the marketing strategies and branding for this new era. GoFloaters, Unschool, Perpule &StoreSe, Last Moment Tuitions participated in this session. All Vital concerns about marketing and branding raised by startups were addressed by Vidur. Here are a few learnings from the session:

• Solidify the value proposition and penetrate the target segment accordingly.
• Think 3 sides of the brand : supply, demand, and logistics.
• Add humor to your product brand to relate with your customers.
• Diving deep into consumer behavior can help to empower customers, where customers can get to decide.
• Simplicity and speed of transactions matter.
• Proper selection of brand archetypes will enable a business to effectively positions the startup brand.
• Staying consistent with the content rolled out on social media can help with branding.

Small-scale businesses have benefits over the big giants. Startups have gained insights as to how to tap the niche segment and acquire other segments relevant to their startup.
The passion and intention of the startups to overcome the current COVID19 scenario was commendable. We appreciate immensely to the time contributed by our mentors as it’s going to help these startups, to come back again to Headstart platform, not as a startup but as a story, as a mentor who can change the mainstream narrative and bring the impact.