How Smart, Strategic Networking Can Transform Your Business During a Crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a proverbial wrench in the day-to-day lives of company founders. For weeks on end, you’ve likely been juggling Zoom meetings, school schedules, family check-ins, squeezing in a workout, time for your significant other and, oh right, keeping your business afloat.

Those projects and tasks you used to whip through are now taking just a little bit longer to complete. OK, a lot longer! And that’s OK. More than ever, your time, energy and focus are precious commodities. When you are able to carve out time to work on your business, there are so many priorities competing for your attention.

So, how do you make the most of the precious time you dedicate to your business?

When budgets are shrinking and marketing dollars are evaporating, it’s time to focus on high ROI activities — the ones that cost the least and produce the most benefit. Networking is on the top of that list, and here’s why: virtual networking is free and offers huge upside potential.


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Why now is the perfect time to network

Schedules are more malleable than usual, as folks are working from home and there’s more flexibility naturally built into their days. Plus, people are yearning for connection now more than ever before. All of these factors make it easier to find a time to connect.

For many, the mere mention of the word “networking” conjures up images of the typical networking scenario: a room full of strangers followed by awkward conversation that leads nowhere.

That’s not the kind of networking we’re talking about. We’re talking about intentional, purpose-driven relationship building.

As the co-founders of Women’s Business League, we’ve had a front row seat to the power of smart, strategic networking. We’ve seen it transform businesses and enrich lives, and done right (even from a distance!), entrepreneurs can achieve a reliable stream of high-quality clients from networking.


Related: 7 Ways You Can Prepare Your Business for Success After COVID-19

Here’s our best advice on how to network well, even during a crisis:

Have a plan

As with all things in business, having a plan allows you to achieve your desired results quicker. Start with the end goal in mind.

First, your goal is to build out a network of strategic referral partners, including other businesses that service your ideal client. Second, your goal is also to create a network of professionals who provide the expertise that your business needs but is outside your zone of genius.

Referral partners

Start by considering what other companies or branding professionals service your ideal client. Ask yourself, “What are the businesses that my ideal client visits before they seek my services?” To go a bit deeper, ask yourself, “Who provides goods or services to my client right before they need my expertise?”

For example, if you’re a wedding planner, your list might include an engagement photographer, jeweler, insurance agent and beauty salon. Grab a piece of paper and a pen and jot down your list. Voila! There’s your starting point for referral sources.

Now, your job is to seek out and connect with folks in the industries you just listed. The key is to find businesses that offer the same level of exceptional client service as you do. Even better if you can identify companies that target clients at the same price point and demographic as you. That way, you’ll be well positioned to take exceptional care of any clients they send your way. And, you’ll set yourself up to work with clients who are in your ideal market.

At this point, you may be asking yourself, “Where do I find these folks?” Start with who you know. For example, if you’re looking to connect with engagement photographers, reach out to friends who recently got engaged. Ask them who they used and if they were happy with their service. If their answer is yes, ask them if they would be willing to make an introduction.

If you’re coming up short, utilize LinkedIn, which has a powerful search tool to find local professionals within your industry. When you reach out, be sure to let these individuals know who you are and why you’re interested in networking with them.

Your “A team”

You can use a similar approach to build out your personal network of professionals who can directly help you and your business. Pick up that pen again and ask yourself, “What are the services that my business needs that are outside my area of expertise?”

Your list might include accounting, banking, legal, social media and so on. Prioritize your list based on the immediate needs of your business to best serve your customers. Pursue connections in those industries, and plan to interview two to three professionals in each category to see who is the best fit for your company’s needs and falls within your budget.

Join a community

An effective way to expand your network amidst social distancing mandates is to join a virtual networking community. The key is to find a digital village that aligns with your values. Be sure to assess the mission, priorities and objectives of the group before joining. Make sure it’s a good fit for you personally and professionally, and once you’ve joined, go all in. Attend the live video meetings, make time for the recorded webinars and schedule time for one-on-one Zoom coffee dates. The more you show up for the community, the more the community will show up for you.


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Be consistent

Once you’ve established connections, nurture these new relationships consistently over time. Always lead with generosity, and offer connections, opportunities, resources and client referrals as often as you can.

When networking, remember to take an interest in the other person’s business. Listen and pay special attention to what’s important to him or her personally and professionally. Let them know that you care. Establish a true connection grounded in mutual understanding, trust and kindness, because where connection grows, business flows.

A well-established network is a business generator, connection facilitator and collaboration incubator. Networking can be an absolute game changer, even (and especially) amidst a pandemic.

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Investing in a Time of Crisis: 3 World-Class Investors Discuss the Coronavirus Recession

The economic disruption caused by COVID-19 is the worst recession the world has seen in nearly a century. At the OurCrowd Pandemic Innovation Conference, Alec Ellison, Chairman of OurCrowd US, sat down with three world-class investors to discuss their perspective on the coronavirus recession, caused by the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. The three investors included founder and Chief Investment Officer of Key Square Group Scott Bessent; managing director at Insight Partners, Deven Parekh; and partner at Bessemer Venture Partners, Jeremy Levine.

Throughout the discussion, Bessent emphasized the importance of putting the present day into context and thinking about what the world and the economy may look like at intervals throughout the future. Bessent drew attention to the Japanese economy surrounding the Fukushima attack in 2011. “For several years,” said Bessent, “the Japanese stock market was the best performing market. Japan as a travel and investment, private equity venue came back on everyone’s radar screen. But it’s hard to believe when you were watching Fukushima burn that this could happen 18 months later.” While Bessent noted that the uniqueness of the situation makes creating a road-map difficult, he seemed confident that in the not so distant future, the economy would bounce back. 

Levine noted that the current “disconnection between the financial markets and the economy may be unprecedented.” In a few years, with the luxury of hindsight, Levine expects more clarity on what’s happening with the market during this economic crisis, but at the moment, “it’s very hard to have high confidence that you know what’s going on today, today.” This lack of clarity leads Levine to ask, “what strategy do you pursue as an investor when you are investing in this enormous amount of uncertainty?”

According to Parekh, however, many companies “have continued to grow at a pretty strong rate” throughout the economic lockdown and market instability. Insight Partners has closed with nine new investments since the pandemic erupted in mid-March. Parekh highlighted the role of technology in keeping companies strong amidst the chaos. He suggested that the relative safety and long-term benefit of investing in the tech is “going to be a driving force” in reshaping stores and reengineering supply chains.

Watch the full 20-minute session, Investing in a Time of Crisis, for what these successful venture, private equity, and macro investors have to say about investing in such uncertain times.

Replay all the sessions from the OurCrowd Pandemic Innovation Conference here.

The post Investing in a Time of Crisis: 3 World-Class Investors Discuss the Coronavirus Recession appeared first on OurCrowd.

OurCrowd

COVID Crisis Could Push 100 Million People into Extreme Poverty, New World Bank Study Says | Jon Miltimore – Foundation for Economic Education

COVID Crisis Could Push 100 Million People into Extreme Poverty, New World Bank Study Says | Jon Miltimore  Foundation for Economic Education
“nigeria startups when:7d” – Google News

“Never waste a good crisis”: Mercy Zulu-Hume on the pandemic, opportunities and impact investments in Africa – TechCabal

“Never waste a good crisis”: Mercy Zulu-Hume on the pandemic, opportunities and impact investments in Africa  TechCabal
“nigeria startups when:7d” – Google News

Rising out of the Crisis: Where to Find New Markets and Customers

The pandemic has upended the business models of most startups and existing companies. As the economy reopens companies are finding that customers may have disappeared or that their spending behavior has changed. Suppliers are going out of business or requiring cash-up-front terms. Accounts receivables are stretching way out. Revenue models and forecasts are no longer valid.

In sum, whatever business model you had at the beginning of the year may be obsolete.

While there’s agreement that companies need to adapt to changing markets, rapidly find new markets, new customers and new revenue models, the question is how? What tools and methods can a C-suite team use to do so?

While the Lean Startup was built with Business Model Canvas, Customer Development and Agile Engineering, there’s an additional tool — the Market Opportunity Navigator — that can help entrepreneurs discover new opportunities.

Here’s how.

Companies have rapidly responded to Pandemic Needs
When COVID-19 first emerged established companies rapidly pivoted. Some focused on remote work, others offered new ways to learn online. Swiss smart flooring startup Technis now helps supermarkets regulate the flow of shoppers. Large companies like GM, Ford and Rolls-Royce began to produce ventilators. Companies in cosmetics and perfume production pivoted their production lines as well. With ethanol and glycerin on hand and equipment required to fill bottles, French luxury giant LVMH has started to produce sanitizer – just like gin and whiskey distilleries across the US and UK have done.

Although the large firms made the headlines, startups also pivoted. For instance, Italian additive manufacturing startup Isinnova used its 3D-printing equipment to produce a crucial valve for oxygen masks. New York-based startup Katena Oncology discovered that a cancer detection tool under development could be adapted to test for coronavirus..

Capture opportunities by building on or repurposing your start-up’s abilities
In these examples CEOs instinctually figured out, 1)  their core , and 2)  market needs where their competencies/abilities could be used.

Rather than running on instinct, the Market Opportunity Navigator can help CEOs figure out their next moves in this confusing recovery. It can provide a big-picture perspective to find different potential markets for your company’s competencies/abilities. This is the first step before you zoom in and design the business model, engage in focused customer development or test your minimal viable products.

Take the example of Abionic, a nanotech startup.

Abionic: pivoting a sepsis test to fight COVID-19
Abionic’s tests can detect allergies, cardiovascular diseases, sepsis and other diseases in 5 minutes. As the pandemic hit, the company’s leaders wondered how their tests could be used in the fight against COVID-19. Using the Market Opportunity Navigator, Abionic realized that their test could diagnose sepsis up to 72 hours before a septic shock would occur in COVID-19 patients.

One of the worksheets below from the Market Opportunity Navigator provides a systematic view of Abionic’s market discovery process: The upper part of the worksheet shows Abionic’s technological assets and the lower part shows how these abilities can be used different market opportunities.

You can download the Market Opportunity Navigator and its free worksheets here.

By looking at their technological abilities, especially in the early detection of sepsis, and clinical data showing that septic shock is one of the key complications of a coronavirus infection, Abionic identified a new market opportunity to help patients suffering from COVID-19. Their CEO Nicolas Durand explains: “If doctors are able to diagnose sepsis up to 72 hours before a septic shock would occur in COVID-19 patients they can prescribe an antibiotic therapy much earlier, thereby potentially saving the lives of millions. In order to test this application of our technology, we deployed our machines at the Hospital at the University of Geneva and see promising results!”

Beyond medical needs: Discovering new opportunities with the Market Opportunity Navigator
Abionic and other companies were able to act fast, as they already possessed technological abilities that, with limited adjustments, could be pivoted or repurposed to the newly identified COVID-19 opportunities.

Yet, because the crisis and recovery will create a “new normal,” additional opportunities will emerge that wait to be discovered by startups and existing companies. Think about looking beyond the immediate opportunities of existing customers and markets, and take a mid- to long-term view on how you can proactively identify new and emerging market opportunities. The three worksheets of the Market Opportunity Navigator help you to:

  1. Identify new market opportunities stemming from your technology or abilities
  2. Reveal the most attractive domain(s) by evaluating the potential and challenges of each option
  3. Prioritize market opportunities smartly to set the boundaries for your lean experimentations

Lessons Learned

  • The COVID-19 crisis and recovery creates fundamental shifts in our economies and societies, and a “new normal” is emerging
  • Winners in this new normal will be able to quickly understand
    • what are their company’s core competencies/abilities, and
    • the new market needs where their competencies/abilities could be used
  • The Market Opportunity Navigator is a framework for this identification process
    • Worksheets and supporting material can be downloaded at wheretoplay.co

Steve Blank

9 promising female-founded European startups that raised funding despite COVID-19 crisis

Though there is an increased awareness about gender equality right now, the number of male entrepreneurs always outnumbers that of women. Especially, when it comes to women in technology, they are somehow overshadowed by men and their scope for achievements in the industry isn’t the same. Despite the many challenges that women entrepreneurs face, some of them in the tech startup ecosystem are in the limelight.

Female-founded startups that raised funding

Given that there are only a few women entrepreneurs in the tech world, the existing ones are highly honoured for their achievements and their businesses reach great levels. Likewise, here we list some notable European tech startups with female founders that have raised funding even during the pandemic crisis as sourced from Dealroom.

Picture credits: PicoJar

PicoJar (UK)

Founder/s: Siwei Kang
Founded year: 2019
Funding: €180k

Edinburgh-based PicoJar has successfully completed a £146k (nearly €161k) pre-seed funding led by Techstart Ventures and Gareth Williams, the co-founder of Skyscanner. Founded by a former software engineer at Amazon and Skyscanner, Picojar is an AI-powered note-taking app, which lets users manage and annotate screenshots captured on smartphones.

Picojar is all set to launch its first private beta this month and users can visit the website for early access to the same. It provides a unique workflow to help users efficiently turn their thoughts and discoveries into interconnected and smart notes.

Picture credits: Wandelbots

Wandelbots (Germany)

Founder/s: Christian Piechnick, Georg Püschel, Maria Piechnick, Jan Falkenberg, Giang Nguyen, Sebastian Werner, Christoph Biering
Founded year: 2017
Funding: €34.7 million

Dresden-based Wandelbots is a developer of a ‘no code’ robot teaching platform that has secured a $ 30 million (nearly €27 million) Series B funding. This funding round was led by 83North along with participation from M12, Microsoft’s VC, and Next47. The other investors that have taken part in the funding round are Paua Ventures, Atlantic Labs, EQT Ventures, Haniel and Alexander Rinke. Wandelbots will use the investment to expand globally.

The German software startup that democratises industrial robotics by letting everyone to program any robot via smart input devices and example-based teaching. Its backend software tracks human motion to live-control industrial robots. This software builds a machine learning model that generates automation workflows and several demonstrations that can be optimised with the software tool.

Picture credits: ToucanTech

Toucantech (UK)

Founder/s: Kate Jillings, Sian Morley-Smith
Founded year: 2014
Funding: €1.2 million

London-based TouchTech raised £1 million (nearly €1.1 million) led by Pembroke VCT, a consumer venture capital trust. The company will use this investment to expand its fast-growing business across the UK as well as overseas.

ToucanTech is a cloud-based community database and website software used by companies, schools and nonprofits. With its simple and beautiful system, the startup lets institutions manage all communications, data and admin in one place. It is syned with social media and combines analytics, CRM, email, news, payments, mentoring, and more at an affordable price.

Picture credits: BEWE.io

Bewe.io (Spain)

Founder/s: Adriana Avella, Diego Ballesteros
Founded year: 2015
Funding: €7.6 million

BEWE.io, which is a leading management software service provider in Spain specialising in the fitness, wellness, and beauty industry has secured funding led by DILA Capital and SEAYA Ventures. The company intends to strengthen its US presence and back its expansion into new global markets with this investment.

Businesses such as gyms, spas, physiotherapy clinics, and salons that use the BEWE.io platform can control their agenda, keep accounts of their centres, customer database, stocks, and charge via a PoS and use loyalty and marketing tools such as sending SMS and email campaigns. Currently, this Barcelona-based startup operates in 20 countries and provides integral management solutions to over 2,500 clients.

Picture credits: Tickitto

Tickitto (UK)

Founder/s: Dana Lattouf
Founded year: 2017
Funding: €640k

UK-based Tickitto has announced that it has secured $ 700k (nearly €640k) in a pre-seed funding round led by Seedcamp, the leading early-stage investor in Europe. The startup aims to unlock the power of global ticketing by providing an intuitive API, which lets travel companies access tickets to events as well as experiences all over the world in a single platform.

Tickitto aims to work with leading ticketing platforms, event organisers, sports rights holders, and experience suppliers to modernise its infrastructure and build external collaboration that will scale its reach. The investment will let Tickitto find new ways to serve modern travellers.

Picture credits: Pepette

Pepette (France)

Founder/s: Marine Thersiquel
Founded year: 2019
Funding: €1.1 million

The French pet tech startup Pepette has bagged €1.1 million funding in a round led by business angels. This startup was founded from the necessity to something different in the area of feeding pet dogs and cats. Pepette revolutionises the pet food market by putting real fresh ingredients in the bowl of dogs and cats.

Pepette is an effective alternative that properly nourishes dogs and cats. The company prepares fresh meals with organic ingredients that are personalised to adapt to the needs of your dog or cat. What’s more convenient is that the same will be delivered to your doorstep.

Picture credits: Doctorly

Doctorly (Germany)

Founder/s: Anna von Stackelberg, Archil Eristavi, Nicklas Teicke, Samir El-Alami
Founded year: 2018
Funding: €6 million

Berlin-based Doctorly is a cloud-powered, digital-first, and fully centralised practice management platform meant for doctors. This platform raised $ 5.6 million (nearly €5 million) funding in a round led by Speedinvest along with participation from Target Global, Seedcamp, Force Ventures, and UNIQA Ventures.

Doctorly works with the mission to replace the dated practice management software used by doctors all over the world. The startup provides the necessary digital technology support, and tools via a single system for doctors to digitally and efficiently manage their practice and engage with patients unlike never before.

Picture credits: OnTruck

OnTruck (Spain)

Founder/s: Antonio Lu, Gonzalo Parejo Navajas, Inigo Juantegui, Javier Escribano, Rika Christanto, Samuel Fuentes
Founded year: 2016
Funding: €53.1 million

OnTruck, a Spanish on-demand trucking platform has secured €17 million investment in a round led by OGCI Climate Investments. Even, its existing investors including Cathay Innovation, Idinvest Partners, Atomico, and Total Carbon Neutrality Ventures, and new investor Endeavor Catalyst took part in this funding round.

OnTruck’s technology maximises efficiency in the road freight marketplace by recognising the geolocation and behavioural patterns of drivers. From the obtained data, OnTruck offers customised routes suiting the drivers’ preferences, thereby reducing the distance between the freight’s destination and origin.

Picture credits: Hello Customer

Hello Customer (Belgium)

Founder/s: Leslie Cottenjé, Bram De Vos, Joeri Pansaerts
Founded year: 2015
Funding: €8.5 million

Hello Customer, a Belgian startup secured €6 million funding from Munich-based Senovo Capital and Amsterdam-based Peak Capital. The company intends to expand in the US market with this investment. Already, the Ghent-based firm has expanded into key markets such as the Netherlands, France and Spain and is facing heavy demand from other parts of Europe as well.

The company lets businesses analyse customer feedback and expectations and improve customer experience. Its technology is based on simple open feedback surveys and it deploys Artificial Intelligence and linguistic algorithms to the same.

Main image picture credits: Wandelbots

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[Airobotics in inside unmanned systems] Airobotics Drone Aiding Singapore Police During Coronavirus Crisis

When Airobotics first began working with The Home Team Science & Technology Agency (HTX) of Singapore about a year ago, the plan was to support the Singapore Police Force (SPF) to enhance first responder capabilities. The coronavirus pandemic has shifted that plan, at least for the time being.

Read more here.

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