Scale and StartUp Stories S1 E9

Sakshi and Ashish Tulsian share their playbook for surviving the pandemic with hope and compassion

12 Aug 2020

These are not days for unbridled optimism, but this is the perfect time to allow hope to arise in our spirits.” 

Donald T Iannone

Entrepreneurial optimism can be dangerous and suicidal. Overconfidence and confirmation biases can blind founders from getting a realistic assessment of any situation. But the undying sense of chasing the glimmer can also be inspiring, and perhaps the single biggest source of strength for surviving an existential crisis like the ongoing pandemic.

When the first wave of Covid pandemic hit India in early March this year, Sakshi and Ashish Tulsian, the husband-wife duo and founders of POSist, thought things would return to normal soon. They announced work-from-home starting 14th March thinking it would last for a week at the most.

Sakshi still remembers different signals leading up to the deadlock, starting February this year, all in the hindsight though.

“I remember we were doing a deal in Indonesia during January/February, which was the single biggest contract for us and it was going well. We signed the contract .End of february is when we started experiencing delays in getting the money. Similarly, we started seeing delays in closing the deals in the Middle East,” she tells me in this podcast.

Looking back, from the end of February to the first two weeks of March, many deals POSist sales team was working on for the past two quarters did not close.

“On March 3, we witnessed the second signal when an annual event we have been participating in for the past six years in Delhi with hectic schedules, appeared to be going empty. We used to collect around 250 leads daily over the past few years, and this year we were barely managing around 22 leads on a daily basis.”

We receive money everyday. Revenues hit our bank account everyday. Our forecast to reality differential isn’t very high, normally. I remember the March 18 announcement of “Janata Curfew.” And we saw revenue zero from that day till April 15.

Ashish also remembers a call from Aneesh Reddy, the founder CEO of Capillary and a fellow SaaS entrepreneur, around that time.

“How’s it going?” Aneesh asked. “How bad do you think this is going to be?”

“Probably a quarter?” Ashish remembers telling Aneesh

“And Aneesh was like, dude, you need help.”

“You will not have time to react if you don’t overreact now,” Aneesh told him. “Start planning for zero revenues.”

Since then, Sakshi and Ashish braced themselves for the worst. POSist used to do around Rs. 40 crore worth of billing daily before the pandemic hit. “By April, we were looking at less than a crore everyday,” says Ashish.

“We can’t thank him (Aneesh) enough for this,” says Sakshi.

Since then, Sakshi and Ashish had to lay off their staff, cut all expenses, and live with zero revenues.

Listen to this podcast to learn more about how the POSist founders regained growth, tapped markets, changed their revenue mix and of course, also hired back the staff they had to let go.

About the host

Pankaj Mishra

Founder , FactorDaily

This episode’s guest

Sakshi Tulsian

Co-founder, Posist

Ashish Tulsian

CEO at Posist, POSist