SURVIVAL IS TOO SMALL A GOAL: PANDEMIC LESSONS FOR START-UPS

The instinct for survival may be baked into all life on our planet. But it doesn’t inspire people to do their best work or to leave their broadest mark.  Start-up companies are in some of the most precarious positions in today’s foundering global economy. Some of them, though, at least have the luxury of using other people’s money as life preservers.  Plan to thrive, not merely to survive.  That sort of personal investment becomes even riskier during the coronavirus pandemic, of course: Most startups don’t have the luxury of coasting or treading water in the best of times, let alone in a down market.  Start-ups don’t have the capital, market presence or the runway to simply survive. Start-ups are built for massive growth in a short period of time. If they aren’t growing massively, they’re dying.  Read More >>

DON’T LET A SINGLE METRIC DRIVE YOUR BUSINESS

Metrics are essential to running a business. We all know that. What may not be as obvious, though, is how metrics intersect with your company mission and even employee happiness. Prioritize a single number — to the exclusion of all others — and you’ll invariably leave a lot of people and priorities out.  Instead, it took a constellation of metrics to capture what the business needed to scale and how each team could facilitate that success.  This constellation is made up of three kinds of metrics: quantity, quality, and efficiency. In relationship to each other, they tell the story of your business and allow for prioritization and alignment.  Of your top three metrics, one should become a north star for the business — almost always this will be the quantity metric that you are trying to optimize.  No metric is perfect. But understanding, and regularly reassessing, the relationship between quantity, quality, and efficiency is critical to more deeply understanding your business — and to staying nimble.  Done right, metrics are among the best ways to make people truly understand how their work impacts the business in a positive way.  Read More >>

YOU GOT REJECTED BY A VC, NOW WHAT?

Entrepreneurs must understand that venture capitalists sometimes filter more than a thousand startups annually and can only invest in a handful. Therefore, by definition, their job is to say “No.”  After every meeting, and certainly if you are rejected, which could happen in person and more often via email, you should reply and thank them for taking the time to meet with you.   Maintain a long-term relationship with all your VC contacts.  Don’t fall in love with your idea.  Do not take VC rejection personally.  VCs require very high returns in a specific time frame that may not be relevant to your specific startup.  Perhaps VCs are pickier, timelines may increase and round sizes may get smaller, but most of the investors and buyers will not back down from a good deal.  Read More >>

HOW STARTUPS AND ENTREPRENEURS CAN POWER THE ECONOMIC RECOVERY

Entrepreneurs are critical to the economy’s long-term success.  Startups created roughly 2.6 million jobs, according to the Census Bureau’s Business Dynamics Statistics. By comparison, firms of all other ages lost a net 267,000 jobs.  The COVID-19 outbreak has introduced a host of economic challenges. But even before the pandemic took hold, entrepreneurial-driven job growth was in a steep decline. Approximately one-third fewer workers hold jobs at young firms today compared to in 2000—a trend accelerated by the Great Recession.  The economic lockdown imposed by COVID-19 presents severe challenges for all businesses, but young firms are especially vulnerable without some of the resources and capital established firms have. Due to the current crisis, our economy is at risk of losing an entire cohort of young firms—job creators that we cannot afford to lose. As we begin to reopen and rebuild, policymakers and economic developers must focus on creating environments that support and nurture entrepreneurs.  Cities across the country need an economic boost now more than ever as they face the challenges of COVID-19. Entrepreneurs and young firms could hold the power to help economies rebound from the crisis.  Read More >>

HE SAID IT WAS THE STUPIDEST IDEA HE HAD EVER SEEN

The BBC’s weekly The Boss series profiles different business leaders from around the world.  When Abigail Forsyth first came up with the idea of making and selling reusable coffee cups, one of the first designers she approached to help was utterly dismissive.  Rather than being upset or deterred by the initial negativity they faced, Abigail says it made them determined to work as hard as possible to make the business a success. “It was a real wake-up call,” says the 48-year-old.  Fast forward to today, and KeepCup has now sold more than 10 million cups around the world. The company estimates that this has prevented some eight billion disposable ones going into rubbish bins.  Looking behind coronavirus, Abigail says she wants KeepCup to be seen as the business “that kick-started the demise of the disposable cup”.  Read More >>

TAMPA BAY COLLEGES SEE ENTREPRENEURSHIP SPIKE DURING COVID-19 CRISIS

As Florida’s economy begins to rebound, local education leaders are tracking new opportunities for people looking to launch a new product or service. The innovative nature and creative nature of entrepreneurs is a lot of times what gets us out of a crisis. The United States also experienced notable spikes in entrepreneurship after two other significant events in our nation’s history: The September 11th terrorist attacks and the Great Recession. 9/11 brought security startups. The recession brought real estate and finance companies. COVID-19 could bring innovation to the ways we work from home, get deliveries, prevent the spread of germs and innovate online education. Experts say this could be the perfect time to start a new business.  Read More >>

EAGLEHAWK BEGINS DRONE-ENABLED DISINFECTANT SPRAY OPERATIONS TO HELP COVID-19 SPREAD

EagleHawk, a Tech Garden member and past GENIUS NY finalist, has engineered a safe, effective, and efficient process for disinfecting large areas against COVID-19, both outdoors and indoors. EagleHawk is using disinfectant chemicals approved by the EPA and New York DEC for effectiveness against the SARS-CoV-2 virus with a process that places the highest priority on safety of personnel and protection of facility equipment. The current and unprecedented global crisis caused by COVID-19 is changing the way people view the importance of facility cleanliness and the new normal is going to require higher levels of vigilance on cleanliness and sanitation. EagleHawk is currently a Tech Garden member and past GENIUS NY accelerator finalist. The company won a $500,000 award last year to continue developing its software and intelligent algorithm solutions for facility managers to better manage the maintenance and repair of their roofs, district heating systems, solar panel installations, building envelopes and facades, and other large-scale facility assets. Unfortunately, we have seen a number of companies recently begin to market such drone-enabled disinfection services using these agriculture drones, promising results that they won’t be able to deliver. EagleHawk has spent months researching, designing, and testing our solutions to ensure we’re offering a safe and effective service for our clients and are working closely with regulatory agencies such as the FAA, EPA and New York DEC to ensure all safety standards and protocols are followed.  Read More >>

HOW THE SPACE INDUSTRY IS WEATHERING THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a sledgehammer to the economy and the space industry is no exception.  Before the pandemic, the global space industry was really coming into its stride, valued at around $360 billion.  For the last few years, space startups with bold ideas could successfully close round after round of funding.  Now, companies may have a hard time getting infusions from outside investors.  That means companies will likely rely on government contracts, either from NASA or the Department of Defense, now more than ever as a guaranteed source of funding.  A few high-profile space companies succumbed at the start of the pandemic.  Analysts say these early losses are likely the result of problems that companies had before the pandemic, and the economic downturn just amplified those issues.  Whether they’re keeping busy or just trying to keep the lights on, companies across the industry are all stuck in the same pandemic-induced holding pattern. Like many industries, it’s still too early to say what will happen in the future. But for smaller companies with loftier ambitions, the financial picture has already shifted. To make it through, they’ll have to tighten their belts and adjust their plans or scramble for a government-funded lifeline that keeps their unique space goals alive.  Read More >>

OVERWHELMED? ADOPT A PARADOX MINDSET

With lockdowns closing schools and offices around the world, it’s become commonplace to see dogs and kids barge into business meetings as the boundaries between work and life have blurred. A seamless balance is impossible. We have to do both – work plus managing our lives, our spouses, kids, pets and home – all at once.  Doing both depends on our ability to adopt a paradox mindset, to consider the world with a “both/and” approach instead of an “either/or” one. In times like these, times of change, uncertainty and scarcity, we need to do many tasks together. And people need to feel comfort with discomfort – these hurdles aren’t going away.  The paradox mindset suggests an alternative perspective, accepting and learning to live with the tensions associated with competing demands. It is an understanding that these competing demands are not really resolvable, in the sense that they can’t be completely eliminated.  A paradox mindset can be cultivated.  In the current crisis, a paradox mindset won’t solve every problem, but it is a helpful and relevant way of thinking.  A paradox mindset allows us to look at the challenge, understand the need to adapt and uncover a different way of working.  Read More >>

SEVEN LESSONS FROM REFUGEES WHO BECAME ENTREPRENEURS

According to the UN Refugee Agency, every minute in 2018, some 25 people had to flee their homes. Across the world, there were 71 million people forcibly displaced due to persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations. These refugees left jobs and professions, studies and dreams, to find themselves in environments often hard to navigate, where they must reconstruct their careers as well as their lives.  The seven lessons we can learn from refugees who restarted their careers are that adversity is the mother of invention, when stuck, be smart and look for alternatives to keep moving forward, education and self-study are key; be curious and seek learning in all possible ways, to develop skills that are transferable and master English, use whatever ideas and passions you have to build your future as best you can, optimism and self-belief are critical to success, and do not assume you need perfect conditions to start a great company.  Read More >>