When Yuting Su, Founder, CEO of Thinker-Tinker, Inc. was nominated for a SXSW Innovation Award in Robotics & Hardware, she was ecstatic. “We were planning for a lot of media and investor activity around our time there, which would have given us a groundswell going into our equity crowdfunding campaign.” Yuting like 400,000 other attendees depends on SXSW for marketing to investors and networking. She was not only devastated by the cancellation, but also lost all of the funds she had invested in her conference activations. She had to change gears quickly. Instead, she launched an online equity fundraising campaign with Netcapital. This way, she could still engage with investors, pitch her company, and get critical investments to grow.
“We allocated significant time and resources to SXSW and we had to absorb those sunk costs and figure out our next move without the momentum we had been banking on.”
Living through a pandemic means companies need to be sensitive to how they sell. It’s a time of service and community building for companies around the world. Yuting’s flagship product Octobo is a plush robot companion that is programmed for interactive learning. With at-home learning and working from home happening in tandem, Yuting felt it was important to give back to the community by offering a special discount for 30% off + free shipping, despite the fact that will leave her with little to no margin.
Smart working during coronavirus epidemic
Businesses are pivoting their strategies from sales to service. Ashleigh Ferran, is the founder and CEO of Keko Box, a reusable dishware-as-a service to food businesses to help reduce waste and improve sustainability. As of March 10th, all of her customer locations and upcoming programs were closed. As a result, none of their products are being used, orders were canceled, and no revenue is being generated.
Ashleigh has been forced to make layoffs and with her lean team has changed her strategy from sales to development. “Some of the items we are addressing now were farther down our roadmap, but we have the time and capacity to tackle them now, so we are simply accelerating our roadmap. The good news is, when our customers can get back to business, we will have even better products and services ready for them.”
Deepti Sharma is the Founder & CEO of Foodtoeat.com, a catering business that partners with immigrant, women, and minority-owned restaurants in New York City. Currently at zero revenue, she has shifted her efforts to fundraising for her restaurant partners.
“We are asking for individuals to either place large orders through us or for people to donate directly to us via iFundWomen. In return, we’ll place orders with our restaurant partners and donate all food to shelters and food banks in NYC – the institutions serving the most vulnerable folks during this unprecedented time.” Her second business Bikky which usually functions as a CRM for restaurants, is now a site where people can order directly from local restaurants during COVID-19.
Samantha Ettus is the Founder and CEO of Park Place Payments, a credit card processing company for a wide variety of businesses. Samantha’s focus has gone from helping her partners thrive to helping her current small business partners survive. “We launched a small business relief plan, and are reaching out to new businesses that appreciate saving even $1,000 a year. Now even small savings can be the difference between keeping the lights on and not.”
“The businesses that survive this pandemic will be forces to reckon with when we get to the other side.”
Jolene Delisle is the Founder & Creative Director of The Working Assembly, a branding and creative agency that has now offered delayed payment terms and flexibility in the schedules tied to her clients’ scopes of work. “I think everyone, clients, friends, strangers, all just need to hear they aren’t alone and that someone somewhere has their back.” In the new reality of marketing during a crisis, Jolene is shifting a lot of their campaign work to be mindful of sensitivities to the economy, people’s general health, and wellbeing and mindset. With layoffs of freelancers that usually support her team, Jolene has emphasized the importance of the remaining team to take on more.
“We just had to come to a mutual understanding that we’re a team, and this is the time to roll up our sleeves to get it done however possible.”
Jolene is advocating that everyone try to remain calm and believe in yourself and your business. “It’s daunting right now, and there is so much uncertainty, bad news, and instability. Know that your health is most important and have a perspective on how lucky you are in the grand scheme of things.”
Adda Birnir is the CEO of Skill Crush skillcrush.com, and an online education platform. For Adda, it’s imperative that she support her existing students and especially former students who now find themselves out of work. She’s taking extra steps to reach out to them and find ways that we can provide them with greater support during this time of crisis. To that end, she has shifted her attention from sales to support by creating The Remote Work Mega Guide. “The tech sector is one of the biggest employers of remote workers, so we are doing everything we can to help people looking for remote work find ways to learn the tech skills they need to be well-positioned to find new, higher-paying jobs in the tech sector,” adds Birnir.
“We’ve seen a surge of interest in any resources we have about remote work opportunities. Because of that, we put together “The Remote Work Mega Guide,” how to adjust to it, and where to find remote work if you need it.”
The Top 10 Must-Do’s During a Crisis (and how to prepare for a future one).
- Make sure your team is in a position to be fast and agile, having remote work capability as an “always-on” strategy.
- Set up daily Zoom calls to promote team collaboration, productivity, and maintain positivity.
- Increase communication with customers and partners updating them on any changes you are making due to the ever-changing landscape of the crisis.
- Build a daily schedule for you and/or your team and follow it strictly.
- Be creative with your “to-do” list. Shift your energy to projects that can be done now in place of previously scheduled activations.
- Focus on development! Build out skills that would enhance your profile or offering.
- Ask for your community’s input, be open to feedback, and readjust as needed. Remember that everyone is navigating the crisis and if you make a mistake, apologize, and fix it.
- Make networking a priority! Reach out to at least five people a day to touch base and see how they are. Ask for nothing.
- Change your mindset from selling to support. How can you help your community? The goodwill generated from this will help your business in the long-run.
- Enjoy the silver lining of extra quality time with family or the luxury of self-reflection and solitude.
We are living through unprecedented times and the ability to innovate is more important than ever. Remember that resilience, creativity, and hard work are always the keys to long-term success. There will be periods of rough moments and revenues will be cut, but at the end of the day we will all get through this stronger and more nimble than before. Always remember that people want to help, you just have to ask for it.