New Business Development Models during Covid Times: A Roundtable discussion

The COVID-19 crisis is adversely affecting the whole world and businesses have been no exception. Nevertheless, these businesses, especially pertaining to Startups are rapidly adapting to the changing conditions. As per the Survey-1(during lockdown) and Survey-2 (post lockdown) conducted by CIE for the startups, the most common survival strategy or an early-on move has been embracing new Business models as the Biz dev remained one of the many pain points for startups to keep up.

Indeed, organisations now have to learn and adapt in an accelerated manner to implement necessary digital transformations that allow them to remain in operation and keep engaging with consumers. Also, in the previous roundtable and separate interviews conducted by CIE with startups, one of the key topics of discussion that emerged was Digital transformation. While some are freshly transitioning, the need is now for integration of digital technology into all aspects of business fundamentally changing how businesses operate and how they deliver value to customers.


CIE IIITH organised the 2nd Roundtable with 5  startup founders as panelists, moderated by 2 founders and Anubhav Tiwari, head of Incubation at CIE , sharing the impact and transition they made to better deal with the consequences of crisis and the lockdown. The panelists are founders of startups building solutions catering to different domains across sectors. The panelists are founders of startups building solutions catering to different domains across sectors.


XMACHINESa robotics company currently developing autonomous mobile robots for various sectors

Impact of COVID on startups & Transition

XMachines builds robots in the agriculture sector and material handling automation operation for manufacturing warehouses. Due to COVID agriculture isn’t affected in mechanization. And because of COVID situation companies have become adaptive to new technologies in material. Industries are more involved now in machines with labor attrition.

Engineering design and software development has picked up speed. They are not fabricating and procuring any hardware as of now and have relocated from mechanical to design teams. The schedule has suffered. But they used this opportunity towards refining their business model, build new products and speaking to customers.



StezyBlockchain Innovation Lab

Impact of COVID on startups & Transition

COVID has caused a major disruption across the globe which has led to shutdown of many factories. There has been a halt of supply chain management across countries. This scenario is leading to an increase in the adaption of Blockchain especially in digital platforms with POCs moving to production.

Early on, the Startup spotted the opportunity and started setting up appointments and meetings online. During the crisis new companies and business models came out. They were able to do a lot of demos. They used this opportunity to crack many deals and the overall cost invested drastically reduced due to the work from home model.

Payments are prolonging, companies have to now keep on going with innovation. Subscription model can work well now. It was a good time to get key decision makers on online calls – a cost effective platform although decision making is a slow process.

The team moved much faster than normal times with simple tweaking of company policies. COI and GUI are all at same platform, so it is good to close deal cost effectively. 1000s of people are simply invited on webinars and business development people help in lead.



KaiinosGeo-business intelligence that makes use of geospatial information

Impact of COVID on startups & Transition

Environmental, Agricultural and asset management services were affected initially because some of the services were used in airports. As the airports and offices started functioning gradually the projects have started again. COVID hasn’t affected the long term projects like satellite data monitoring.

Sales are impacted. There has been minimal impact on government customers. Private projects are getting delayed. Payments are deferred but not cancelled.



Sunfox Technologies Medical Device Manufacturer

Impact of COVID on startups & Transition

Covid has changed the ‘may be required things’ to must have things. Remote Monitoring Solutions was previously a nice to have solution but in COVID times it has become a must have solution. These times have created an opportunity for Remote Monitoring Solutions but at the same time it is a challenge to manufacture the same.

The work force has been working from home and only the hardware team was required to be in the office so they weren’t affected by remote working. They upgraded their product accordingly to make it a COVID targeted solution. They suffered a loss as they had a lot of demand but they couldn’t fulfil the demands as their resources were limited.


Apxoran advanced product analytics solution (user engagement app) that answers the toughest product questions

Impact of COVID on startups & Transition

Digital adoption has picked so it is about how we navigate the situation. COVID has hit some customers badly like travel and hospitality which have put them on hold. Some of their customers have doubled their active members like ed-tech and gaming. The team got used to work from home gradually. Shrinking of market at large, is still a problem.



Authbasedeep tech cybersecurity startup using AI and ML to identify and mitigate threats and attacks across networks

Impact of COVID on startups & Transition

Critical infrastructure and healthcare companies are customer areas which were impacted during COVID. Human is the weakest link in keeping data. Lots of free websites came up and data breaching was happening hence more security and awareness came into picture. So there has been a positive impact due to COVID.

Cyber security sales are increasing. People are preferring online sales now as 3 months’ time is good enough for developing a habit. Also, more interaction is happening b/w teams making the environment positive.



Empathy Design LabsHealth tech Startup; offering wearable device for daily monitoring of pregnancy

Impact of COVID on startups & Transition

Pregnant women and people having health issues are reluctant to go to hospitals. Also, hospitals aren’t welcoming to patients. Hence in these times home monitoring has become a need. And this situation has validated their

The team gradually adapted to the remote working concept and focussed on doing doable tasks in these times that is they’re more focussed on improving software rather than hardware. They converted their ideas into IP’s. They did reverse engineering on their hardware and they worked on their design to reduce their dependency on external manufacturers.



The effect of COVID on startups depends on what stage are they into. If the startup is in the early development stage they won’t be affected much but if the startup is in the growth stage and has already entered the market they will be affected. Online platforms have made decision making process much more faster and attentive.


Also, Startups which proactively devised a game plan are running slowly and swiftly. Startups which didn’t have a game plan are affected majorly. These times will change our perspective towards sales. Earlier sales was believed to be an offline affair and now companies prefer to conduct sales meetings online.


What Startups are presently need?

  • Access to funds
  • More and Responsive customers
  • Operational resilience, more enterprise customers to close leads faster
  • One-on-one clients meet
  • Cost-effective laboratories
  • Faster manufacturing
  • Office space and culture and
  • Lockdown to be relaxed completely


Insightful? Watch this space for more such takeaways ↑→

Know more about our ResilienceUnlocked series here

Until next time!

– Sunita Kumari, Team CIE


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