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BW Businessworld

Standing The Test Of COVID 19

One of the easiest way is to let your venture go into hibernation like multitude of species who hibernate through long periods to survive extreme cold and warm seasons.

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“The Test of Time” is an interesting and wide-ranging concept defined by wiktionary as: To remain useful or valued over a long period of time .It is the correlation of longevity with validity of anidea or trend. As a Venture Capital investor I see this as a key parameter during an unprecedented crisis Covid-19. We now assess every opportunity against achieving the goals and success of the idea and the business model to Stand the Test of Covid 19 and last out. 

Greatest Of All Time (GOAT) is another concept and the examples : Jamshedji Tata , J.R.D Tata , Dhiru Bhai Ambani, Ghanshyam Das Birla and some others set up their businesses decades ago and have with stood the Test of Time over several crises and not only lasted out but grew over time. They find their place in the gallery of Greatest of All Time, everyone may not agree and are entitled to their own opinion, but what can’t be denied is that in order to be a Greatest of All Time you cannot be a flash in the pan. You have to withstand head winds from competitors and the Government, varying market conditions, financial crises, labor issues, skill gaps, strategies going wrong, your own weaknesses and unpredictable events like the current pandemic.

If you have been able to navigate through all these over time you have with stood The Test of Time! Do any of our current lot of poster boys in the startup community be remembered few decades from now as Greatest of All Times?

For me outlasting is far more important than outplaying. Today’s Founders set themselves up for outplaying especially when it comes to raising capital. They burn the investors’ money to out play not only their competition but their Customers! With their zeal to outplay their peers they raise far too much capital in a short period and lose sight of the long-term and ultimately lose control on the destiny of their own ventures. Control passes on to the investors whose interest also lies in outplaying to ramp up the valuations to enable them cash out. The best example of this is Flipkart. The Bansal's could have been The Greatest of All Times a few decades from now if they had lasted out.

Too often we see extraordinary Founders who don’t fuse well enough with longevity to achieve GOAT status. It maybe that many of these fatalities were due to forces outside of their control, it’s exactly this: one’s ability to manage and control what other’s seemingly cannot, this is what matters to pass The Test of Time.

Standing the Test of COVID Times every one has his own magic concoction when it comes to surviving by building immunity: Turmeric Latte, haldi doodh in simple words, to spiced up warm water. How do you build immunity in your business from Covid: what practical measures can you put in place to ensure survival thereby ensuring longevity?

One of the easiest way is to let your venture go into hibernation like multitude of species who hibernate through long periods to survive extreme cold and warm seasons. Just let everyone one go on furlough and slow down your business or even stop so that you reduce your need for oxygen there are not enough VC’s to fund you buy a ventilator to keep your business continue to breathe!

Pivoting is the worst thing one should do not knowing when is the start of the post Covid era. Going by latest estimates the last human to get vaccinated will be sometime in 2025. So no one on earth can really predict what the “New Normal” will be and it’s start date. I firmly believe that longer the pandemic lasts more normal will be the “new normal”. We will all be back to our time tested ways: you don’t build immunity by changing your course but by staying the time tested course. People who live to the age of 100 and beyond have been doing the same thing each day of their lives: change does not help you to attain longevity.

If you fancy your portrait in the hallway of your office a century from now you need to stop taking everything so seriously: You will sure pass the Test of Time and live through this “crisis”, which I believe is just a mere event in our lives, and find your way into the gallery of Greatest of All Times!

I asked my son, Bobby, the other day how is he ensuring that his startup survives. He is based in London and doing a startup in re insurance in high growth markets in Africa and Asia. His answer was as apt as it was simple: “As long as you’re playing the game, you’re winning.”

So keeping your head above water  is the new “up and to the right.” All we have to do is to ensure longevity: Outlast rather than Outplay.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Mahendra Swarup

Founder & Managing Partner Venture Gurukool Capability Fund. A VC Fund investing in startups. Former President IVCA

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