Bonin Bough is a marketing guru, investor and startup CEO. He says businesses must prioritize empathy, now more than ever. Learn how companies can create value during COVID-19 to help them stay relevant while protecting their brand.
As the coronavirus crisis escalated in March, Emil Mikhailov, CEO of the AI startup XIX, sent an email to his employees, warning them to prepare for a recession when their top priority will be to “to survive the storm.”
“It’s not clear what is going to happen,” he wrote.
Then he made a vow: “We as a team will not lose anyone. We will sacrifice short-term to make sure everyone is OK.”
The downturn has upended the world of startups, many of which are scrambling for ways to cut expenses, including layoffs. But some startups are stressing the need to protect their employees’ jobs as they figured out ways to survive the downturn.
Some CEOs and founders, like Mikhailov, have even promised not to cut anyone.
Every day the news features stories about how businesses are adapting to the COVID-19 crisis. Whether it’s small companies developing new revenue streams to stay afloat, or larger ones reorienting operations to provide critical support, one thing is clear: Businesses are pivoting quickly.
But there can be missteps too. COVID-19 related promotions fill my social feed and inbox. Buy a comfy work-from-home bra! Puzzles (that are sold out) to help entertain the family!
Bonin Bough is a digital marketing guru, startup investor, and author of “Txt Me: Your Phone Has Changed Your Life. Let’s Talk about It.” His latest venture, OpenMessage, creates dynamic, branded text messages to drive customer loyalty. The company was selected by SAP.iO Foundry (a global startup accelerator) to participate in its new cohort of customer experience and retail companies.
Cloud-based enterprise software firm SAP has established a €3 million COVID-19 Emergency Fund to support the urgent needs of the World Health Organization (WHO), the CDC Foundation, and smaller nonprofits and social enterprises that work on the front lines serving local communities in crisis. “SAP stands with the WHO and supports its leadership in coordinating the global effort to mobilize the fight against COVID-19,” said Alexandra van der Ploeg, head of SAP CSR. “Specifically, SAP is donating €1 million to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the WHO hosted by Swiss Philanthropy Foundation and the United Nations Foundation for virus prevention and detection. SAP is also making resources and expertise available to help our nonprofit and social enterprise partners effectively shift to remote operations. We want to help ensure they can maintain their much-needed services to their communities and not lay off staff.” Meanwhile, SAP is collaborating with an ecosystem of business-to-business startup partners through its SAP.iO program – startups which center on managing a distributed workforce. The list includes secondment and staff re-allocation tool Andjaro; Bravely, a platform connects employees to on-demand professional coaching; Clearmetal, which enables accurate delivery forecasts and exception management in multi-modal container-based transport; Cultivate which facilitates growth in-management capability and organizational health through passive data acquisition and analysis of employee feedback; Disco which enables employees to recognize and commend each other, building employee engagement; mobile microlearning platform Gnowbe; Goodr, a startup tackling hunger by connecting sources of surplus food with those in need, such as food banks; the MeQuilibrium well-being and performance platform; Plum, a psychometric-based talent acquisition and management platform; WeGift, a leading platform for real-time on-demand digital incentives, payouts, and rewards due to eGift cards; and Wethos, which curates virtual teams of contingent creative and marketing experts.
Min Chen, CEO of Silicon Valley data analytics startup Wisy, was born in China but grew up in Panama, where she lived through the turmoil of the 1989 US invasion. She and her co-founders are “wartime survivors” who endured the violence and the disruption of that period.
“That experience, somehow, has prepared us for this crisis,” she told Business Insider. “We come from places where there was nothing, even in times of prosperity.”
Like other startups, Wisy’s biggest challenge right now is cash flow, but Chen and her cofounders hope keep their team together. While other startups have begun shedding jobs, they’re taking a different approach. “Instead of laying people off, we decided to all take pay cuts,” she said.
That adaptation feels critical: “Companies that die are those that couldn’t adapt,” she said.
In Wisy’s case, new opportunities have come up because of the crisis. An international organization that wants to use Wisy’s technology for tracing infections and anticipating outbreaks has invited it to apply for grants.
“Even if we don’t have the grant, we would help,” she said.
As individuals and organizations are learning to navigate today’s “new normal,” companies are shifting their strategy or altering their services in order to bring the most value to customers and give back to the community.
Check out how some of the alumni from SAP.iO Foundry Tel Aviv’s previous cohort are altering their offerings and sharing insightful resources.
Outgage is a direct mail SaaS platform that combines the advantages of digital marketing campaigns with the effectiveness of personal direct mail experiences, closing the loop between offline and online campaigns. As several companies are reconsidering their current marketing efforts and strategy, Outgage is beginning to aim their offering of personal direct mail experiences toward HR leaders, who can utilize Outgage’s services in order to send care packages and engage with their employees who are working from home.
EasySend’s no-code application builder empowers global insurance companies and financial institutions to turn paperwork into a digital experience. In light of the current situation, EasySend is churning out helpful content to assist insurers in fast-tracking their digital transformations, as well as providing information on how going digital will help enterprises succeed in this new reality.
GrowthSpace’s online one-on-one coaching platform offers high-quality training and personalized coaching for tech companies, at the cost of an average workshop. In the past couple of weeks, GrowthSpace has organized various webinars to provide expertise to organizational leaders during this time. From a “COVID-19 Readiness for HR Leaders” discussion to a “Teams Working Remotely” expert panel led by six senior executives of remote teams, GrowthSpace is utilizing the prowess of their certified coaches to provide key insights and best practices to the community, free of charge.
Scientific data is proving to be the bedrock of workforce resiliency in a world reeling from COVID-19. Commonly misperceived as an inborn trait, resilience is actually a tangible skill that Massachusetts-based meQuilibrium is building in employees at Fortune 1000 companies worldwide.
“Every leader is talking about adaptive capacity, resilience, and agility,” said Jan Bruce, co-founder and CEO of meQuilibrium. “We are democratizing executive coaching, helping people manage the stress and burnout associated with constant transformation and rapid change.”
Managing stress with resilience
As the pandemic spreads with head-spinning speed, meQuilibrium’s interactive cloud-based platform appears ideally matched to what’s become a rightfully panicked workforce. Tracking steadily rising stress levels of employees on the meQuilibrium platform, the company sped up product updates to deliver refreshed daily tips and tool kits for managing anxiety, uncertainty, and isolation.
The startup’s worldwide customers cut across industries like pharmaceuticals, finance, telecommunications, packaged goods, and automotive. Many organizations have reported measurable benefits to date. One company reduced high anxiety by 36 percent, high stress by 27 percent, and depression by 24 percent in its large employee population.
The exponential spread of the new novel coronavirus — what some might consider a “black swan” event — has sent tremendous shock waves to every foundational socioeconomic system serving humanity as we know it.
Unlike many other disruptions we have weathered through in the past, this is an existential threat to the way we work, live, and play. Every well-crafted business strategy playbook has been temporarily paused as leaders respond to the urgency of the moment, which is to take care of the health and well-being of their people.
As the world pivots quickly to the new normal, a completely different culture of work is evolving. Social distancing is the new anti-viral, requiring each one of us to do our part in preventing further spread. And with social distancing, remote work is the new norm.
As people come to terms with this new reality in their work and life environments, we are likely to drive an accelerated adoption of entirely new behaviors and technologies, many of which will be here to stay post-crisis.
Not too long ago, in 2018, The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated only 29 percent of American wage and salary workers could work at home, while the Organization for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD) estimated six out of 10 people in the EU had not worked from home. Enterprises that may have emphasized employee co-location as a driver of success in the past are now left to quickly figure out how to manage business continuity, employee engagement and health, and customer success. Despite basic productivity tools such as Slack and Teams or video collaboration tools such as Zoom, enterprises worldwide are still struggling in how to navigate the “new normal.”
At SAP, our purpose is to help the world run better and improve people’s lives. Now more than ever before, we know we need to find solutions together, as part of a global purpose network, an ecosystem of customers, partners, influencers, non-profits, government institutions, and agencies.
The worst of times calls for the best in all of us. In that spirit, we are incredibly privileged to collaborate with an ecosystem of business-to-business (B2B) startup partners through the SAP.iO program. By virtue of being digitally native, managing a distributed workforce has always been their de-facto way of conducting business.
Adapt fast, find hidden opportunities and show crisis leadership
Corona virus, or Covid 19, can now almost undeniably be classified as a ‘black swan’. Many supply chains have paused production, stock markets have been crashing, and many companies find or will find themselves in delicate situations.
Nowhere is this situation felt more acutely than in small businesses and in the startup world. Organizations that had based their business plans on the back of an +10-year bull run have seen their outlooks imperiled as their customers lack near-term visibility, and even viability.
The SAP.iO Fund has the privilege of working with leading B2B SaaS startups and a few select leaders, ceos and executives of these organizations were recently asked about how they are coping with the current environment and planning for the future. Here is a net net summary of their insightful recommendations, summarized in five key categories: Sales and customers, Value proposition and business model, Product and processes, People and Finances.
Overall, their recommendations were to:
- Adapt fast and fix the organizations to align to new market dynamics.
- Find hidden opportunities in the new market environment.
- Show crisis leadership at a time of destructive creation.
Retrouvez dans notre article les informations startup à ne pas manquer. Aujourd’hui : la demande de brevets, la quatrième promotion SAP.iO, la création d’entreprise et l’Anssi.
Demandes de brevets européens : la Chine s’impose dans le numérique et éloigne la France du podium
Les demandes de brevets auprès de l’Office européen des brevets (OEB) ont encore augmenté en 2019, tirées par l’essor du numérique et des technologies pour la 5G, qui permet à la Chine de ravir à la France la 4ème position du classement, a annoncé l’OEB jeudi. Avec 181 000 demandes en 2019, l’Office a enregistré un nouveau record, essentiellement dû au numérique et à l’informatique et dopé par les demandes venues de Chine en augmentation de 29,2%. Le chinois Huawei devient même le plus gros demandeur de brevets en Europe tous secteurs confondus. La Chine a multiplié son activité par six en dix ans.
Avec 10 163 demandes déposées en 2019, la France se tasse pour la deuxième année consécutive. Ce repli est plus significatif dans le numérique et les transports. Il s’explique par le ralentissement de la demandes de certains grands groupes historiquement bien classés, comme Valeo, mais également parce que certains pourvoyeurs de brevets ont changé de pavillon. Malgré son ralentissement, le secteur des transports reste toutefois un mastodonte en France, et encore plus dans le reste de l’Europe, dont de nombreux groupes d’importance sont originaires.
Grâce à l’Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale (Inserm) ou le groupe Sanofi, la France se montre particulièrement dynamique dans le domaine des sciences de la vie. Le recul de Valeo est compensé par l’émergence du Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives (CEA). Avec 597 demandes, l’institut de recherche publique français devient le meilleur élève du paysage national.