Launched in 2014, StoryBites is a weekly feature from YourStory, featuring notable quotable quotes in our articles of this past week. This special series of compilations focuses on India’s COVID-19 struggle (see last week’s post here). Share these quotes and excerpts with your networks, and check back to the original articles for more insights.


Developments of the past week reveal the uncomfortable reality that we may have to confront. The coronavirus may be with us for a long time, and we have learn to live with it rather than hope to vanquish its threat. Safety and hygiene will be even more important in designing the post-lockdown world.

As India navigates the lockdown exit in phases, the reality is that expectations of business as usual may not apply any more. Some sectors like movies and travel are hit harder than others. Surviving the tough times will call for a laser-like focus on cost-management and business model pivots.

The acceleration of digital transformation continues to bode well for sectors like edtech and home entertainment. The companies that succeed will be the ones that correctly read consumer behaviour shifts. Work from home generally is tilted in favour of the privileged, but also raises challenges in terms of fatigue, stress and productivity loss.

The pandemic has exposed the deep flaws in our society on issues like labour, gender, and environment. This will affect long-term prospects of the country stepping up to fill the gap as many international firms pull out of China.

In response to the coronavirus crisis, YourStory has set up the Resource Centre for Startups and SMBs. When worry, fear, and misinformation are spreading, this online resource helps set the record straight through expert advice, business tips, wellness practices, and workflow suggestions. See also our pick of 60 quotes on coping with a crisis.

Also ReadHow Indian government is helping 1,000+ innovators fight against COVID-19, explains Dr Harsh Vardhan

This virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities. – Michael Ryan, WHO

It is a fact that we will need to learn to live with the virus, build our life and livelihood, and move ahead with activities by ensuring strong healthcare support systems around us. – Meena Ganesh, Portea Medical

When we look at repurposing old drugs, the most obvious drugs of choice are antivirals. – Anu Acharya, Mapmygenome

It will be super important for us to always keep safety and hygiene as an important consideration while designing in the post-lockdown phase. – Anurag Arora, Uber

COVID-19 has humbled us to experience life from the eyes of an elder. – Saumyajit Roy, EMOHA

Today successful R&D is multidisciplinary, many things that we see today would not be there if they were in silos today. – Ratan Tata

There’s no going back to the ‘normal’ – all we should focus on is building for the ‘new normal.’ – Deepinder Goyal, Zomato

Exposure to the current experience may also help generate greater traction for efforts to reduce air pollution than ever before. – Anshu Sharma

All these better additions to our lifestyle are not only going to help us fight coronavirus but also to help us in fighting many other communicable diseases. – Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Science & Technology

As a businessman, you can forecast volatility, but you can never forecast a zero-revenue situation. – Ajay Bijli, Chairman, PVR

With major economic centres around the country being classified as red zones, business activity recovery is expected to take time. – Vivek Soni, EY

This is a moment for all of us to come together in a collective effort to make each other kinder, stronger, and braver to face the days ahead. – Shah Rukh Khan

It's too easy to sit back and criticise. Don't fall into that trap. Let the bias for action lead you to making a difference. – Jay Dutta, DesignUp

Also ReadThese octogenarians fighting COVID-19 show age is no bar for being a good samaritan

Be prepared to make your firm survive and see the tough times through. – Shripati Acharya, Prime Venture Partners

A deeper analysis of fixed v/s variable cost elements within the overall cost structure should be carried out to plan for better financial management in the coming months. – Siddharth Chaturvedi, AISECT Group

The biggest challenge for startups is to stay in business. With debt capital, they can continue to scale and focus on the things that work for them. – Saurabh Srivastava, TiE Delhi-NCR

While some startups in sectors such as edtech, online grocery delivery, home entertainment, and cloud computing are witnessing a trend-defying growth during the pandemic, the overall ecosystem has been severely impacted. – Apoorva Ranjan Sharma, Venture Catalysts

Now might be the time when investors should be looking at opportunities like they did in the 70s and 80s. – Ratan Tata

When you're investing for a long time, you become non-emotional about money and making money through trading or investing. – Nikhil Kamath, Zerodha

Essentially, don’t do spray and pray, make sure that companies are well capitalised, collaborate with other investors, and move them forward. – Deepak Gupta, WEH Ventures

With knowledge comes the courage to experiment, for now the fear of the unknown is replaced by the excitement of exploration. – Pavan Soni, Inflexion Point

Also ReadCOVID-19 accelerating investments in cloud, AI and cybersecurity: Microsoft India President

While each crash has a different impact on the psyche of the consumer, one thing for certain is that consumer behaviour does change significantly during such times. – Rohit Krishna, WEH Ventures

Instead of forcing traditional businesses to adopt completely modern practices, social commerce platforms are integrating certain buyer-seller behaviours of offline retailers. – Jasmeet Thind, CoutLoot

Discretionary spending has taken a massive hit as consumers are deferring non-important purchases due to the uncertainty caused by the spread of the coronavirus. – Sachin Taparia, LocalCircles

Whenever customer friction intersects with untapped profit potential, disruption is bound to occur. The Indian insurance sector is at the cusp of exponential growth. – Monica Jasuja, MasterCard

Consumers are demanding more personalised, tailored products, and we are seeing an unprecedented shift in the relationship between the insurer and the insured. – Chirag Buch, SE2 Digital Service

Also ReadCOVID-19: Basics of drugs and vaccines in progress

Today’s reality shows women are bearing the brunt of the crisis far more severely. It is widening gender gaps and eroding the power and freedom that women had just about started earning before the pandemic. – Shravani Prakash, elleNomics

While there is a lot of knowledge available, lack of outreach leads to loss of lives, especially of the poor and vulnerable. – Manu Gupta, SEEDS

There is no better time to open a savings account for your children than during a recession. You will prove it to yourself, that if you could save during a recession, you can save any time. – Ramkumar RS, RSR Innovations

The difficulties and problems of the villages can only be resolved by the villagers themselves. – Zarina Screwvala, Swades Foundation

Get set for brand managers reiterating ROI multiple times in upcoming briefs. – Sidharth Singh, CupShup

It might be challenging to conduct business customarily right now, but it’s important to not neglect your brand, or connecting with your customers in such crucial times. – Nikhil Arora, GoDaddy

Overall ad revenue will plummet 18 percent this fiscal, with the impact varying across segments. – Sachin Gupta, CRISIL

Also Read'Work from home' to be new normal for govt offices post lockdown

Once you go digital, there is no reason to go back. – Satyen Kothari, Cube Wealth

Digital transformation in companies will focus on new end-to-end customer journeys and we will see an increase in adoption of automation in manufacturing industries. – Aarthi Subramanian, Tata Sons

With the rise of online tutoring and edutainment games and apps, many people are coming to understand that e-learning has a place. – Jitendra Karsan, Safari Kid India

The franchise model, unlike in other sectors, does not work in edtech. Online is the way to be for availing quality education everywhere. – Gaurav Munjal, Unacademy

First and foremost, schools need to employ an intensive back-to-school programme to get back on track. – Rubina Maiti, UNICEF

Most management still happens offline, and these processes are done manually. The pandemic has forced teachers and students to adopt new technologies. – Gaurav Kumar, Edumarshal

Pushing the use of digital technologies in schools will put Tamil Nadu at the forefront of the STEM revolution in India. – Rajeev Krishnan, Matific India

People will now prefer to get beauty services in the controlled environment of their home, versus to step out and go to a salon. – Abhiraj Singh Bhal, Urban Company

Most of us are ‘mined’ under the pretext of freemium business models implemented by our current giant tech companies. – Ankit Chaudhari, Aiisma

The COVID-19 situation has dramatically altered the situation in which the relevance of kirana stores has become very important, especially when there is talk of grocery supply. – Satish Meena, Forrester

Rather than relocating to dining tables (the ad-hoc workplace) or beds (which only trigger backaches) the answer is to create a dedicated study. – Lokendra Singh Ranawat,

A sizeable number of those employed in manufacturing have jobs which cannot be transitioned to WFH roles. – Deepthi Ravula, WE Hub

If your reason for weight gain has been stress, you need to calm down and improve your resilience. You need to support yourself through the tough times ahead. – Deepa Kannan, PFNR

Also ReadAs India moves towards 'Lockdown 4.0', CRY organises webinar to understand its effects on children

China may not be able to retain its position as the world's largest factory in the post-COVID global economic order. – Gaurav Gupta, Gov of Karnataka

The relief package is built on five pillars – economy, demography, system, infrastructure, and demand to support the Indian supply chain. – PM Narendra Modi

India has talented, low-cost manpower in addition to the low cost of production. This is a huge advantage in the exports market. – Parag Jhaveri, Yasho Industries

In the times to come, the listed SMEs will become globally competitive and offer a significant contribution to India’s economic development and job creation. – Ajay Thakur, SME

A crisis is a great time to show your statesmanship, commitment, and character. This is the time to contribute to nation building. – Kalyan Krishnamurthy, Flipkart

YourStory has also published the pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups’ as a creative and motivational guide for innovators (downloadable as apps here: Apple, Android).

(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)

How has the coronavirus outbreak disrupted your life? And how are you dealing with it? Write to us or send us a video with subject line 'Coronavirus Disruption' to [email protected]

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Health and fitness startup recently downsized operations and laid off trainers at gyms in Tier II markets in India, Delhi, and the United Arab Emirates, citing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have downsized our employee base across markets where we have shut operations and have initiated pay cuts across levels. The founders have taken a 100 percent pay cut, the management team 50 percent, and the rest of the staff, depending on seniority, have a reduction of 20-30 percent,” said in a statement.

Founded in 2016 by Mukesh Bansal, Co-founder of fashion retailer Myntra, and Ankit Nagori, former Chief Business Officer of Flipkart, the startup has come in for flak for the way it is handling the crisis.

The co-founders have now sent out an open letter to all employees, assuring them of their best interests and seeking to debunk the “massive misinformation about how we have treated our employees”.

The letter is reproduced here:

Hello All,

It has been testing times not only for the company but for the country and the world at large. We have been caught between doing our best to service our customers during the lockdown, trying to save as many jobs as possible while also ensuring long-term viability of the business.

There has been much written in the media in the last few days which underscores the effort of thousands of people at over the last few weeks. In this note, we would like to set the record straight and share all the facts with the extended team so that you have accurate information about how the company is managing this crisis.

First of all, I must begin with our second core value “Blow away customer expectations”. Our teams have gone out of their way in the last six weeks to make our digital offering happen despite numerous constraints. Our teams have been shooting classes at home with phone cameras, people risking their lives to deliver food and essential items at home, and our doctors have been treating customers over video consults. Our engineering and operations teams have worked day and night to offer world class home fitness experience despite dealing with numerous personal challenges and constraints. This has enabled us to service five million Indians to work out at home, completely free of cost.

We understand it is a tough time and we wanted to make sure continues to play a meaningful role in people's lives during these times. We have seen "jaan hai to jahan hai" many times in the last few weeks. Healthy workout and food goes a long way to ensure that.

There has been massive misinformation about how we have treated our employees. Here are the facts:

Even though our revenue went down to nearly zero from over Rs 70 crore a month, we have paid full salaries to all employees for the months of March, April and even May for many employees who are working full-time. That is three months of massive burn, totaling over $10M without any revenue whatsoever from customers.

We have in-fact extended unlimited free pause to our members so that there is no disruption to their experience with CULT and they can be rest assured that whenever lockdown ends, they can avail of their entire unused portion of the membership without a single day of loss.

We made the commitment to teams that they will be paid for these three months no matter what, and we’ve stood by that while we processed the larger macro-economic condition.

As we talked to economists, policymakers and got a deeper sense of the depth of the current crises, we don't see life returning to full normal until a vaccination is found and the entire globe is vaccinated. Till then, we will have a new normal with limited movement and severe restriction to mass gatherings, which include group workout formats like CULT.

In such a situation, it is critical that we manage our costs for the long-run viability of the business. If we maintain the exact same cost structure while revenue continues to be negligible, it will be grossly unfair to all stakeholders, including employees, who have done so much to build the business.

In order to ensure we are well set to ride out this winter and emerge stronger from this crisis, we have taken a large number of cost measures. Some of them are:

• Founders are foregoing 100 percent of their salary for one year. All senior management is taking 50 percent cuts.

• All central teams which are working more than full time will take 20-30 percent cut starting June.

These two measures will save the company over Rs 8 crore per month during the crisis. We have also reduced our marketing significantly, saving the company another Rs 10 crore a month.


Mukesh Bansal, Co-founder and CEO, Curefit.

For all our operations staff like food delivery and doctors that continue to serve customers risking their lives, there is no change in compensation. These folks are fighting the battle on the frontlines and we do not wish to affect them any further while they provide essential services at considerable risks. We are of course providing PPEs and all other protective gear to minimise their risk.

We have a trainer base of over 2,500 trainers who have been on the bench since March as we are not able to open our centres to resume group classes. Although we have live classes, the skills required to perform in front of a camera and perform a live class is very different and currently less than 50 trainers are engaged in live classes.

Given such large numbers of trainers are on the bench without any revenue in sight, the cost structures are simply not sustainable. We took a call to shut down our business in small towns that affect only 5 percent of our revenue but had a large cost base.

We are letting go of these employees and excess staff in other cities, which is less than 300 trainers with following benefits:

• Nearly two months of additional salary

• Extended health insurance beyond the term of employment

• Emergency fund of Rs 2 crore that they can apply for in case of personal emergencies

• Promise to rehire when we ramp up our hiring

For the remaining 90 percent of our trainers, we are merely changing the compensation model so that we can sustain through this crisis. Our business model works on the basis of trainers doing 120 classes per month. We will continue to pay them compensation for minimum 50 classes a month even if they do zero classes.

Once the number of actual classes picks up through online PT or offline group classes, their compensation will go up automatically.

This is a highly equitable solution where our trainer base is getting paid indefinitely even when there is no work, all their benefits continue, there is continuity of job and promise to return back to normal compensation. These changes will bring a benefit of Rs 5 crore per month to trainers. This is more than what most companies will be able to afford. We are seeing many large global fitness chains file for bankruptcy.

Eighty percent of our cost savings come from cost reduction among central staff, marketing costs reduction, and only 20 percent from compensation changes for trainers.

We should also mention that we have hired most of our trainers from small towns, given extensive training ranging from skill building, communication, and other life skills. We offer highly professional environments with things like monthly nutrition packs, training gear, personal workout times, efficient trainer lounge etc. all with the intent of providing a dignified and efficient work environment.

Trainers are at the core of what we do and they stand by us as a pillar of strength. We have seen overwhelming support from 80 percent of our trainers despite social media nuisance by a small minority and we will be sharing their stories with the world at large shortly.

Ankit Nagori

Ankit Nagori, Co-founder, CureFit

We have been criticised for donating Rs 5 crore to PM Cares and ACT Grants. Half of these funds are contributed by founders and management and the other half by the company. These funds wouldn't cover even 14 days of trainer salaries and less than five days of the wage bill of the entire company. We have paid two-three full months of salary for everyone despite no business, provided two months of severance, and are continuing employment of 90 percent of our full-time staff.

The public contrasts between charity and salaries is a pure gimmick designed to sensationalise what is a very sensitive situation for all involved and forced upon us by a global pandemic.

We are also accused of paying celebrities. Our net monthly bill for celebrities is Rs 1 crore per month, which is barely one day of our entire wage bill and less than three days’ worth of salary for the training staff. It is ridiculous to compare the two and use this to attack the company to vilify an effort that is solely motivated by the desire to bring high quality workout experience at home.

The only way we ride this out is by riding this out together and ensuring we survive this crisis in good financial health. We, as a company, have always stood by our customers, employees and shareholders in that order.

We have been very thoughtful about balancing fiscal discipline and minimising human impact to a large number of our workforces. We are retaining a large majority of our workforce and offering among the best-in-industry severance and benefits packages to those who are affected.

It has been heartbreaking that many of our senior leaders and founders have been at the receiving end of vicious and abusive language and serious threats to them and their families. This is due to uninformed media and vindictive trolls who love fanning a fire even when there is none.

It is a travesty that a company that is committed to improving the health and well being of millions of Indians ends up with serious threats to its office bearers. We will be counting on the support and goodwill from our employees and customers to share the true story with the public.  A story of mutual understanding, sympathy, solidarity, and commitment to ride this out together with dignity.

We have built with a few foundational beliefs. These are centered on building an outstanding product, exceeding customer expectations, and always doing the right thing. These core values stand behind us in good times and bad. These will see us through these times as well.

We stand committed to providing an outstanding health experience to our customers and a great work environment to our employees no matter how the situation is.

In these times, we take solace from following timeless words from Theodore Roosevelt: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Our teams are fighting this out in the arena with sweat and blood. We will fight out the rough times together.

We are CULT!


Mukesh and Ankit

(YourStory has reached out to the founders for further inputs. We invite you to join an online conversation with YourStory's Shradha Sharma and Mukesh Bansal and Ankit Nagori today at 5 pm to know more on the developments at

You can register here:

(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)

How has the coronavirus outbreak disrupted your life? And how are you dealing with it? Write to us or send us a video with subject line 'Coronavirus Disruption' to [email protected]

Original Source: