Around here we don’t look backward for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” Walt Disney
The above quote is more like our mission statement. COVID-19 pandemic lockdown period has given us ample time to introspect not only as an organization but also as individuals.
We worked with our mentors, advisors, board members, and most importantly with our team to understand what we can improve as leaders and how as an organization we can navigate and scale.
Here are the things we did, doing, and planning to do.
1. Impact analysis & scenario planning
First thing first, in this unprecedented time, instead of thinking about what’s not in our hands like – When this pandemic will be over?? We started by analyzing the impact on business and planning for scenarios but not the wait and watch approach. The matrix below shared by sequoia-capital is the best one I found on the internet and any business can use it.
The utmost important thing for us to be sure we have enough cash runaway to survive as per our churning cycle. One of the immediate actions we identified is reducing the fixed cost ( Salaries, Rent, Opex, Travel, etc). Based on the scenarios we made turnover targets for this and next fiscal year. We did the reverse calculations and were able to identify that we need to reduce 35% of our fixed cost for the next 18 months.
2. Our foundation is in keeping the flock together.
Businesses need to grow as a sphere on both horizontal and vertical axis to adapt, grow, and brace the impact of any change. There are two types of ideas of growth, one is to only do business, follow trends and monetize whatever you can and move on; another one is to be Industrialists, socialists, not only create wealth but also value for all the stakeholders. Definitely, we want indibni to be known for the second category.
- We decided not to lay off any staff or abandon any vendor.
- We decided to vacant our head office space, to keep a few more team members.
- We decided to extend an interest-free loan to our blue-collar staff members.
These choices we took as for us, indibni is not a place but the people; this is just one of the difficult times and we can sail the ship in this storm together.
3. Annual Appraisals & Skill up-gradation for the team
Appraisal and AGM are part of our annual process. March 20 being our anniversary, we do it from 21-30 March every year. This year because of lockdown, we reached out to each and every employee over video calls and discussed the appraisals. In an online AGM, we made the team understand about all possible options and the impact of Covid-19 on our business, Indian, and world economy. Everyone understood that appraisals are not just about increments, it’s also about knowing what you have done in the whole year and what are your goals in the upcoming years.
As founders, we reduced our salaries by 50%, and the team voluntarily agreed to a 10- 25% pay cut, however, we excluded people with below 15k monthly pay. We also offered executive coaching and access to various resources, online courses to our team to make a better version of ourselves as the goal was just not to survive but to self appraise, upgrade and accelerate.
4. Integrating New Business models & Future Innovation
Indigifts being our signature brand and primary source of revenue is all about physical gifts, products for the B2C market. We are totally dependent on supply chain management from manufacturing to distribution partners.
With the vision of Reliant India and focus on local, In the next 2 years, we are focusing on generating 60% of annual revenue by our own platform. We are adding 2 more sales channels. The first one is entering into the B2B market segment. Creating products for corporate needs and enabling brand merchandising. The second one is the Digitalization of Gifts and making relationship-based content for the mass market.
*We refer to this Growth pipeline engine prepared by Frost & Sullivan for ideation to execution. For details please check the referred links at the end of this post.
5. Accelerating Digitalization without losing the DNA.
Indibni was not a digital-first company. In Fact having food together, daily team activities, were part of our everyday culture. We begin as an end to end product company that designs, produces, sells, and distributes all from one place. The biggest challenge we faced was enabling WFH and training teams for the same. We reached out to our industry colleagues and experts for the necessary help.
In one month, we were all set to automate. Now for communication, we are using Slack, for documentation and project management – Google Drive/Click Up, and morning stand-ups and meetings via video conferencing – zoom/google meet.
Here is a beautiful story of transition compiled by our team member Pratiksha
Every day at 10 AM in the morning we all assemble, sit at one designated space in our homes, which terms as a workspace, do a 30-minute team stand up and activity over a video call, and make sure we work 6-8 hours in a day. We are also in the process of manufacturing and packaging division. We are designing processes to automate and work with better efficiency and productivity by keeping all the necessary safety precautions.
6. Restructuring According to growth pipeline
We were already in the process of evaluating the whole FY in March. Based on feedback and recommendations from our mentors we took a bold step to restructure the organization as per 80/20 rule and created two divisions:
Present Division: The objective is to make sure the company grows as per the targets and keep up the business. The focus would be on fulfilling market demands, quality supply, and awesome customer experience.
Future Division: The objective is to make sure the company does innovation & scale exponentially. The focus would be on identifying the future markets and making the right product-market fit with validation.
We started treating all types of work as projects with clear goals and timelines. We upgraded the working process by defining structure, hierarchy, reporting, and product management. Teams and leads now to work with the flexibility of working and performing better despite not being under one premise.
* We will be happy to share a few internal structures and process documents on request.
7. Being the BRAND of the need
When the whole world is fighting with this single invisible enemy, every individual and organization must do their deed in this hour of need. Considering the huge need for PPE in the crises, we accelerated to produce Masks and made a commitment to donate 10% of our sales from wellness products to support the living beings via our Indifamily Foundation.
Explore here: https://indigifts.in/collections/dust-mask
In our individual capacity, we donated to CM/PM care funds. We made awareness content to make people aware of COVID-19 virus, precautions, and keeping mental and physical wellness, as per the guidelines from WHO & Aayush Ministry of India.
The brand is not at all about a logo or a name, it’s all about what people remember or refer you to.
8. Inviting Potential Business Partners for mutual growth
In some ways, business mirrors biology. As Darwin surmised, those who survive “are not the strongest or the most intelligent, but the most adaptable to change.”
We are looking for partners and exploring opportunities that are aligned with our vision. Four areas/ideas where we are open –
- Producing brand merchandise/co-branded products for the B2B segment, as per the requirements. (We are good in making gifts – check our products here)
- Acting as a design partner with Technology/IoT/AI companies on specific projects of mutual interest.
- Partnering with Individuals (Designers, Content Creators, Marketers) for producing Indigenous vernacular content and merchandise.
- Partnering Educational Institutes for Training and placements of potential students with us.
If anyone has any potential ideas where we can collaborate, feel free to reach out to us or recommend us in your network.
Together we Triumph!
Ankit & Nitin
1. Market Impact of COVID-19: How to Respond, Reset, and Rebound by Frost & Sullivan. https://hub.frost.com/covid19-impact-direct/
2. Life Era COVID-19 – India by Narendra Modi
3. How Being In Quarantine Can Change The World | Goalcast /McRaven “Make Your Bed” Speech. https://youtu.be/7klvBZNkNKc
4. Covid-19 Impact Analysis and Best practices for the founders https://www.notion.so/Best-Practices-for-Founders-in-the-wake-of-COVID-19-54f0c0db17064e6f9e5dd456d9cb26de
5. 100 Things to do while you are in Quarantine