The Strain on Startups
The spread of the SARS-Coronavirus-2, which is responsible for the COVID-19 respiratory disease, is putting to the test many startups. This is an emergency situation that presents both – restrictions and opportunities.
Many startup founders will have to deal at the moment with the inability to meet in person with clients and work with them to educate, sell, and implement their services and products.
It will also limit the opportunities for working with investors on closing investment deals. Many startups may not be able to survive this emergency simply because of cash flow problems or not receiving funding.
Virtually all events where investors and startups were able to meet and pitch or find potential deals are closed.
Strains on Technology and Processes
Many companies implemented Work From Home policy. This is not a new notion or environment for startups. Working from home or remotely is normal for a startup, where Starbucks or a table in the park is the ‘today’s headquarters office’.
While this is the norm for most startups, there are still many issues to be considered.
In-person meetings are 100% replaced by online sessions. This simply means that the bandwidth needs to be sufficient to support the increased demand and also you will need to be a low-latency network. Whereas one or two not-so-perfect connections in the past were OK, it cannot be the new and daily norm.
Critical documents can’t be signed in-person – electronic signature system will be required to be signed for or purchased. Online chat becomes a critical communication tool and everyone needs to be OK with the tool. New standards that require discipline need to be implemented. Employees need to be trained.
Strains on Security
Security may impose changes to hardware, services, processes or all three. For example, if connecting to the office requires VPN infrastructure, it may turn out the current VPN was never designed to sustain 100% of users to be connecting to it at the same time.
Increasing VPN licenses may not be a feasible option for many startups, considering the chronic “lack of cash” situation with new businesses. It is important to make sure savings are not getting in the way of security and all access, user data, communication, and any potential security risks are mitigated properly. The last thing you want is to find yourself with a lawsuit on your hands after you managed to survive the outbreak.
One interesting option to avoid buying new hardware of VPN licenses to accommodate the situation with the COVID-19 emergency would be to use services like Cloudflare Teams for secure access.
This may sound strange, but the existing emergency situation is actually presenting creative founders with opportunities.
There will be a wave of new ideas and startups who will address the updated and increased needs for better response and resilience infrastructure and solutions. We are just starting to see the beginning of such outbreaks and companies need to come up with solutions.
With blockchain technologies, write-once databases, IoT and coming up 5G enabled network we should expect new solutions that will help quickly react to situations as Coronavirus spread.
In addition, the current emergency is the perfect example of a black-swan event. This will increase the awareness for investors and then startups about building anti-fragile systems.
We can no longer limit our thinking of simply building an MVP. the new solutions need to provide redundancy and be able to sustain emergency situations in the future.
I believe COVID-19 will change the way investors look at startups. Startups will have to provide much more from now on that just discovering needs and finding proper solutions for them. It will also spin out new types of services and ideas.
The current emergency situation is testing not only our social life, health, and finances.
It puts many startups at risk to lose customers, funding deals or simply not being able to survive.
At the same time, this will the time when new ideas will be born, the needs for new services will rise and new startups will be born. Such startups will need and also come up with new technologies and processes. All this will be very uplifting for the economy and startup community.
Focus on safety, security, continue to deliver to your customers any way possible and protect your business. This is the time we can help each other and put many of our differences aside.