Here is an excerpt from the insightful panel discussion.
Where were you all stuck in terms of your businesses when this pandemic struck your industry?
Muneer Mayr: As far as Bykea is concerned, business revolves around transportation – whether it is a taxi service or it is a delivery service. We are hit the most when the lockdown got imposed. Everything came to a standstill in the month when we had projected the maximum revenue. We were rather on the closing period of raising Series-B funding round in the month of April, but it got to us like a sudden shock.
Moshin Qureshi: Cheetay too asks for the need to free transport and delivery. As the month of March brought the nationwide lockdown, everyone was confused. Our delivery boys and restaurants were caught by police and we were trying to comprehend the seriousness of the situation. It eventually got closed completely.
Naureen Hyat: Tez was also going ahead with the next round of fundraising. We were planning to raise the lending bars with the announcements of new partnerships. We had to put a halt on the disbursement of funds to a great extent as we couldn’t take more credit risk. However, the recoveries are still coming in as a surprise. We’ve expedited the development of other verticals of the product. The insurance feature will go live in June itself.
Ahmed Rauf Essa: Telemart was about to announce ‘Telemart Express’ where we would start delivering within 24 hr in Karachi and within 48 hr in the rest of Pakistan. Our warehouses accommodated products that helped us redefine Telemart Express as ‘delivery during lockdown’. At the time when every other store was closed, it turned out to be a huge boom for us. We could focus on the categories that saw an upsurge in demand.
Apoorv Sood: We were in complete denial in the initial phase of the pandemic. A lot of our customers were shutting down and we started struggling to get paid from our existing customers. It came out as a big challenge for us to comprehend the situation, manage the sales pipeline, recover payments from our clients, and the reality of working from home for an indefinite future.
What strategy have you adopted to fight the changing business scenarios?
Muneeb Mayr: We took this time to develop a variety of other features in our product given the fact that we are not stuck with the rushing business. We have time for that. Hopefully, they’ll come off greater use when the lockdown ends, and the user demand skyrockets when people come out of their cages.
Moshin Qureshi: The Government has to choose between death and people and the death of the economy. And while the death of the economy seems less horrible, it will eventually lead to a civil war in countries like us. We are hoping to survive amidst this chaotic times. Our business dropped to 70% within 3 days of lockdown, but since then we are recovering. We have partnered with the essential verticals like pharmaceuticals, groceries to keep running our business.
Naureen Hyat: Tez has started lending to small businesses and micro-entrepreneurs instead of floating them randomly. We are focussing more on the retail owners where we can let the bolls rolling and keep the mutual interest intact.
Ahmed Rauf Essa: We are lucky to have the flooding of the customers during this phase. We are rather struggling with managing the service part. So we are trying to partner with more packaging and delivery service companies to meet the demands. We are crafting strategies to push back the retail side of the business as well.
Apoorv Sood: This pandemic has shown a bigger need for every B2C company to engage with its customers and opt for marketing automation to serve the purpose. We are trying to go fully organic on this front generating E-book, and other modes for branding the need for personalized engagement.
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