COVID-19: How start-up companies can survive the post pandemic era

By Gaurav Arora


THERE’S no understating COVID-19’s impact on businesses across Asia. According to a recent survey by the Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC), less than 3% of the start-ups in Southeast Asia (SEA) think they would survive for more than 12 months, even if the COVID-19 pandemic persists.

As economies across Asia start to emerge from lockdown, business leaders are reassessing their plans and projections to accommodate the new normal, and creating opportunities for start-ups.

Many start-ups already possess one of the qualities that could prove most beneficial in the post-pandemic world – business agility. But being agile and moving fast is just the beginning.

Start-ups also have to look for opportunities to pull unnecessary costs out of their business, forge new links to partners and customers, and ensure their employees are continually developing new skills. With this focus, start-ups can lay the groundwork to survive and thrive in the new normal.

Digital transformation needed

During these challenging times, we are seeing companies of every size, including start-ups, express their desire to transform quickly into the cloud as a way of breaking free of the legacy on-premises infrastructure that holds them back from trying new ideas.

According to IDC research director Daphne Chung, the pandemic has underscored the importance of digital transformation across all industries.

Cloud continues to be the underpinning platform for all digital transformation initiatives and has therefore seen an acceleration in demand in the wake of the pandemic. In Malaysia, the public cloud services market is expected to grow by 14.9% from 2019 to 2020.

All that cloud promises when it comes to elastic consumption, agile development, and global reach are in demand, and the value is being realised across Southeast Asia.

As consumers continue to embrace digital services, their behaviour change creates opportunities for agile start-ups that quickly innovate with cloud technology to deliver great experiences online.

Running a start-up can be a stressful experience at the best of times, and one of the most critical factors underpinning their success is how well they manage their cash. And that means, making sure they are only spending money on things they absolutely need.

In Singapore, Amazon Web Services (AWS) worked with fintech portal MoneySmart to help reduce their cloud spend by more than 28% per month through cost optimisation exercises.

As an example, Spot Instance usage enabled the personal finance portal to achieve a near 50% savings compared to On-Demand usage.

Attracting customers

We know that one of the hardest tasks of bringing a new idea to market is simply making people aware of it, and by identifying platforms to facilitate these introductions.

And finally, while we know that start-ups rarely have spare time on their hands, it is important to never stop learning. Keeping up to date with the latest products and developing the skills to use them is more critical now than ever.

The natural agility of start-ups gives them the capacity to adapt quickly to market changes, and presents a chance to win new customers. By using this time to take stock of their business and the opportunities available to them, start-ups can move forward with confidence into 2021 and beyond.


Gaurav Arora is the head of Asia Pacific-Japan Start-up Ecosystem of Amazon Web Services.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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