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VCs mentor Start-ups to Tide over Tough Times

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Team Startup CityThe Covid-19 pandemic has created a starring mayhem both in terms of health casualties and economic crisis across the world and continues to spread with no signs of slacking off. The epidemic has brought most of the businesses especially start-ups to a standstill and has impacted productivity and overall business growth at large. As a result of some of the preventive measures taken by governments worldwide to control the pandemic, small businesses, start-ups, and entrepreneurs have come out to be one the most vulnerable groups that have been directly affected by these measures. Whether it’s the preventive measures or the general chaos, COVID-19 has caused extreme disruption socially and economically. However, it turns out that while the entire business ecosystem is coping up with the crisis, many of the brave-heart start-ups are striving to find opportunities to stay strong amid the looming crisis. And that’s the brighter side!

Put in a straightforward manner, these are real difficult times for the entire start-up fraternity, particularly for the ones who are in the early stages of business. But losing hope has never been an option in business. What’s interesting here is how a group of top venture capitalists and private equity firms have come up with a list of some best practices; all with the idea of help India’s start-up founders tide over this uncertain period. The publicly available document has been jointly authored by Accel, Bessemer Venture Partners, Chiratae Ventures, Kalaari Capital, Lightspeed, Matrix Partners India, Nexus Venture Partners, Omidyar Network India, SAIF Partners and Sequoia Capital India. “Founders will inevitably be faced with difficult decisions, tactically on execution for the next 21-30 days, and strategically on how to plan plan for the next 12-18 months,” the document says. “While nobody has all the answers, we hope this will help answer some questions and provide founders with a framework on how to approach the challenges ahead.”
Some of the important tips for the start-ups mentioned are:

Fund Raising; a Tough Nut to Crack
According to the jointly authored document,the next few months are going to be tough for start-ups pertaining to raising funds. In worst cases, the positive fund-raising outcomes might take longer than usual. Entrepreneurs should have to patient and plan a goal to use money wisely, at right events. “Many investors will move away from thinking about ‘growth at all costs’ to ‘reasonable growth with a path to profitability’. Adjust your business plan and messaging accordingly.” A “flat round” of funding that may extend a startups runway for another 12 months should be considered a good option, states the document.

Planning is the Key
Few quintessential to any startup’s survival will be agility, adaptability and flexibility. There might be worse situations like receivables being delayed or huge price cut requests from clients. In such scenarios, strong communication within the team and realigning of business strategies would be fundamental. Start-ups should consider holding weekly meetings to discuss cash burn and runway with the core team. For most of the entrepreneurs, the priorities should be employee safety, business continuity and liquidity.

Calculating Risks and making way through them
Considering the negative impact that Covid-19 has brought in, VCs suggest that start-up founders should devote a team entirely to evaluate the risk management part. Newer start-up companies can take help from their investors and mentors to assess risks. “The major objective of risk management is to create a framework that allows the company to be proactive rather than reactive while measuring the macroeconomics trends in the market,” the document says.

In such circumstances, VCs advises entrepreneurs to delve deep and assess the effects on their customers and the sectors that they operate in. Some of the systemic risks that the VCs want start-ups to lookout for include:

• Exchange rates
• Risk from public markets
• Supply chain disruptions
• Over-dependency on capital sources
• Cybersecurity

Besides these, the venture capitalists suggest redesigning business processes by allowing teams to work remotely and keeping engagement levels high. Clear communication and transparency with employees and external stakeholders is an absolute must.

The investors remain bullish on the long-term outlook for India’s start-up ecosystem beyond the temporary disruption from Covid-19. “We believe in our founders and teams, and wish everyone the best in navigating through this extremely turbulent and stressful time. This too shall pass and we hope you emerge from this crisis stronger than ever before,” wishes VCs.