It gives us immense pleasure to tell you all that the second edition of the Unlock Growth webinar was a resounding success. Our session talked about ‘Unlocking Growth for Your Business in The Era of COVID and Beyond’ to help professionals navigate these confusing times. We were elated to host an audience of 600+ attendees, ranging from freelancers and marketers to entrepreneurs and product managers. 

Couldn’t attend the webinar? Missed out on some interesting points? Don’t worry because we are here with a summary of all that went down in this edition of Unlock Growth. From personal anecdotes to business lessons, we will try to cover everything in this article.

The #UnlockGrowth webinar hosted two of the most well-known and reliable names in the start-up space – Ankur Warikoo, Co-founder and Board Member of Nearbuy.com, and Harshil Mathur, Co-founder and CEO at Razorpay. The conversation between these industry experts was moderated by Vedanarayan Vedantham, Razorpay’s SME Business Head. 

Looking back at entrepreneurial journeys

Ankur Warikoo and Harshil Mathur have both witnessed landmark successes in their respective entrepreneurial ventures. Starting from scratch often requires a lot of grit and determination, because the path is paved with uncertainties and hurdles. The webinar saw the two panelists recounting their experiences to shed light on some important lessons they learned along the way.

Ankur Warikoo’s Journey

Back in 2008, Ankur was a consultant before the passion of starting something of his own hit him in 2011. That is when Groupon came into the picture and simultaneously, in India. The high point of his journey was in 2015 when they bought the Groupon India business to start Nearbuy.

Surprisingly, his career’s lowest and most challenging point was just nine months after their funding in 2015. Recounts Ankur, “Back then, we were facing a massive financial crunch after making some terrible choices and the cash was burning. We had to take the hard call of laying off 20% of our workers. It wasn’t their fault at all, but the decision had to be made.”

The business took this decision with the utmost procedure and care. When people were laid off, they tried to find them other jobs, help with their resumes, and attempted to provide a severance package. But Ankur’s most significant learning lies here. He says, “I learned that laying off is never about the job but about self-respect.” 

Harshil Mathur’s Journey

For Harshil Mathur, the objective was clear from the very beginning. As soon as he passed out of his college, IIT-Roorkee, in 2013, he started working on Razorpay. Accompanied by his co-founder Shashank Kumar, Harshil wanted to help startups accept payments as the then-existing system was suboptimal and not suited for start-up needs.

The toughest part for him was the waiting time. He explains, “We spent a lot of time – almost one year – in getting bank approvals. There was a time when everything was ready but we couldn’t take the product live as we were waiting on banks.” After approaching some 50-100 bankers, the team found the bank that agreed to go live with them.

But Harshil considers it all a part of the process. It was then that Razorpay got into Y-Combinator, the ace start-up accelerator, and started scaling their business. 

Finding the right partner

A very important part of many entrepreneurial journeys is deciding on the right partner or co-founder. Harshil Mathur and Shashank Kumar, co-founders at Razorpay, were part of the same group in their college. Harshil remarks that he got lucky with his co-founder. Finding a co-founder is much like finding a spouse because the founders have to share a long journey together. 

He gives a particularly important advice to people thinking about selecting a co-founder. 

“People often look for a particular skill set in a co-founder like sales, programming or marketing. You can hire employees for these aspects. A co-founder should share the vision with you. Look for someone who you know and understand well, someone who will share your worldview and can give you an efficient counterview”, says Harshil.

The ‘aha’ moment for businesses

Businesses often look for that one moment where an idea clicks or a product succeeds, and everything changes for the good. We tried to decode that if there is such a moment that unlocks growth for businesses.

Ankur Warikoo told the audience that a business’s journey is filled with a combination of good and bad news. Entrepreneurs often struggle to find that moment.

Ankur tells the audience, “The trick lies in looking for the ‘aha’ moment around customers, rather than around growth. If you crack that one insight about your audience, then growth unlocks itself.”

His biggest aha moment was around trust. Their team realized that India is a trust-poor country, living on the principle of “dal me kuch kala hai”. Nearbuy being a deals and discounts platform, always induced doubt within people. Thus, he had to focus on building trust and reliance more than anything else.

Harshil says that his aha moment was not an instance but a piece of advice from Y-Combinator. The suggestion was simple: make something a few people really want instead of something many people somewhat want.

Unlock Growth in the era of COVID and beyond

The world, as we know, has undergone a massive shift in the last eight months. The pandemic has changed the business landscape, made existing operations obsolete, and brought in new technologies. We asked our panelists if there are some tips and insights to unlock growth in these times with so much going on.

Ankur’s TMT model

Ankur shared an interesting mental model he uses, especially in times like these. He calls it the TMT model standing for Time, Money, and Trust. According to him, a consumer’s financial interaction with a business is about three things – the time they have, the money they own, and the trust they possess. 

During the lockdown, people had a lot of time on their hands, but due to layoffs, pay-cuts, and financial slowdown, money wasn’t something they had enough of. Similarly, doubts about safety, social distancing, and the outside world made them deficient in their trust in businesses.

Thus, Ankur says that the businesses that flourished were the ones who identified people were time-rich, money-deficient, and trust-poor.

This is why we saw industries like content (TikTok, Instagram Reels, Netflix, Prime Video) and subscription-based edtech flourishing. They offered a way to kill free time from the safety of your home, with low money involvement. Click To Tweet

Harshil’s ‘opportunity in adversity’ mantra

For Harshil, the approach is different. He says an entrepreneur must focus on finding the next best opportunity when an unforeseen hurdle hits you. Taking Razorpay’s example, he explained that travel contributed to 30-40% of the business. When travel was hit during COVID, this chunk suddenly disappeared.

However, the team at Razorpay realized that the COVID-19 pandemic presented an exciting opportunity as it became a great time for gaming, edtech, grocery, and e-commerce industries. Says Harshil, “Entrepreneurship is nothing but being smart about what the world throws at you”. The trick to success lies in finding opportunities in adverse times and leveraging them effectively.

Tips for monetizing your passion

Content creation is something that Ankur Warikoo has been doing for the past four years, in the capacity of a CEO as well as independently. He told us, “When Covid struck, I wanted to reimagine myself as a content creator. I wanted to take this time to diversify and help others more. This is when I decided to explore live webinars”.

Within three months, Warikoo had organized and conducted almost 18 webinars, with hundreds of people coming in every time. In addition to webinars, he also had courses around Career Growth, Public Speaking, and Start-Ups on his website. 

Bringing in the revenue with Razorpay

Ankur says, “A large part of credit for my content’s monetary success goes to Razorpay. Earlier, I had to call up a coder and ask them to make a payment page. Then, my wife – who herself was accepting payments via Razorpay – told me a way out”. All of Ankur Warikoo’s webinars and courses are also via the Razorpay payment suite.

What lies ahead

The era of influencers

Ankur is very confident about the fact that the next decade will show the world its first solo employee unicorn. This means that just one person will establish their personal brand in such a way that it surpasses even big corporations. This can be anyone – a gamer, a fashion influencer, a guide, or a teacher.

This will primarily happen because today, corporations are not stronger than individuals. Nowadays, big consumer decisions are spearheaded by influencers. People are listening to individuals with a strong personal brand. As our witty moderator, Vedanarayana, put it in the webinar, “David has a chance against Goliath.”

A transformed payment and business landscape

Harshil remarks that the pandemic accelerated some trends that would have otherwise taken 2-5 years to materialize. As an example, he says, “Traditional institutions like schools were not open to online payments till early this year. They were very happy getting their fee via cash and cheques. But with the pandemic as studies went online, so did the process of accepting payments”.

Another amazing transformation will be seen in individual entrepreneurs, especially on social media. Digital payments on Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp, are rising day by day. 

The pandemic has made entrepreneurs realize that online commerce not just for techies and big brands. It is for anyone who has a product, a platform, and a way to accept payments. Click To Tweet

Unlock Growth 2.0 – Ending note

We hope the insights from our latest #UnlockGrowth webinar helped you to better understand the complex times we are living in. The recording for the webinar is available below, in case you’d like to hear the panel yourself. Please feel free to get in touch with us, if you have any questions for us.

Till then, keep growing and thriving. Unlock growth for your business with Razorpay!

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Author Shubhangi Bhatia

Shubhangi is a Content Marketer at Razorpay. A marketing enthusiast, she loves writing about business strategy and technology. You will often find her reading Indian mythology, exploring Delhi streets and taking Buzzfeed quizzes.

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