What we experienced during the crisis is surefire fuel for startups to innovate. The implementation of the term customer-centric and data-driven is indeed grappling with efforts to make people feel better in life - in a digital context, living on the internet and smartphones. The pandemic in 2020 brought unprecedented challenges for most businesses, and startups were not immune to the problems that are currently affecting the lives of the world's population.
What's interesting and will always be discussed about startups—whether in conferences or small spaces in the social media commentary column—is their mindset and execution in dissecting problems which then disrupt public habits. In 2020, the disruption or "disturbance" comes from a virus that ultimately changes human life because of the limited space of activity and its impact on the global economy, including startups.
Conceiving the challenges and opportunities during a crisis
Problems arise when a pandemic hits, sending a clear message that startups must have a lot of gasoline to develop innovative product ideas. But, the world economy is observed to be weakening in various places and industries. Is it then a good idea to start a startup today?
"We can see whether they are startup founders and not on how they see opportunities," said Eko Seno Prianto, Telkomsel’s Business Incubation General Manager.
Seno does not deny the severity of economic health due to Covid-19 which can hit businesses such as startups—especially those still in the stage of ideation and prototyping. From a startup's POV, some challenges are related to human resources, market testing, and piloting.
In terms of human resources, many companies have flocked to streamline the structure—or even collapse—until finally the brilliant talents out there are looking for job opportunities. As a result, many startups and corporations are competing to get them.
In terms of market testing and piloting, startups need to make an extra effort than ever. "For example, in the case of Industrial IoT (Internet of Things) startups. If we are talking about IoT, of course, it cannot be separated from the presence of needs for, for example, hardware installation. The large-scale social restriction (PSBB) has a big impact on this,” explained Seno. "Not to mention the Industrial IoT business model. They focus on B2B, and now many corporations are holding back their resources for investment, partnership, or consuming. "
But for Seno, the condition also creates hopes and opportunities for startups with new ideas relevant to the new normal. Startups need to adapt to the presence of various public issues in their activities and meet their needs. "Must be seen case by case actually. Some research says that sectors such as logistics, supply chain, health tech, online learning can win this opportunity. "
Alignment of scalable business strategies through incubator and accelerator programs
What drives the engine of startup production is its ability to translate problems into product-market fit innovations. Knotty problems in a pandemic are like a field full of ideas to enter into a backlog. Unfortunately, especially for new founders, the ideation process will take more attention if there is no market access for testing.
"With or without a pandemic, an incubator, accelerator, and venture capital (VC) programs are needed. Especially for new founders in a pandemic like this. Supporting access to resources, capital, and markets from these programs can drive the startup innovation process", Seno stressed.
Together with Telkomsel Innovation Center (Tinc), Seno seemed to show a real example that digital technology-based companies should be able to project strategies with high scalability - which, interestingly, accidentally coincided with when the Covid-19 pandemic erupted. Having previously run three incubator batches that focus on the Internet of Things sector, Tinc in 2020 opened wider opportunities for startups to collaborate and join the fourth batch, by conducting intensive coaching which, like new normalcy at this time, involved many online interactions.
As a result, the ideas chosen are now more varied and are expected to answer wider needs such as the idea of ??Software as a Service (SaaS) based video platform, edutainment solutions based on Artificial Intelligence (AI), chatbot solutions for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and agritech for retail.
In the process of startup recruitment, startup development programs from corporations of this kind must see harmony with related parent businesses, such as mutualism between IoT and Telkomsel. But, basically what the corporation sees more deeply also includes solutions from startups that can be relevant and scalable, as evidenced by startups in the fourth batch of Tinc.
Now the challenge for new founders is how to convince incubators, accelerators, and VCs to be able to provide support to their businesses. "With so much funding being held, these corporations have become more selective. But on the other hand, Tinc as a corporate accelerator is still open to innovative ideas to be registered," Seno concluded.