5 Great Opportunities for Founders to Take Advantage of During the Covid-19 Crisis

Meet Nino Subotic - our other new Accelerator Co-Lead and growth and operations expert. In this article, Nino will share his thoughts on business opportunities during the Covid-19 crisis. As a startup founder, you don't want to miss those!

Hi, I’m Nino!

I help startups with user acquisition, strategy, structuring, prioritizing, and understanding their growth activities.

I co-founded Framkalla startup, which helps users to get their photos off their devices and into their lives. I also bootstrapped Framkalla to 100k paying customers. That startup then became a 7-figure business and the Nordics biggest print app!

Before Framkalla, I designed many apps which led to hundreds of thousands of downloads. I’ll be happy to be your go-to person for queries related to product development, user experience, growth, and marketing.

At FTMO, I work with the founders in the batch and make sure they have everything they need to get to their next round. From growth activities to personal 1on1 meetings.

In the first week of the Covid-19 I and a couple of my friends Rikke, Johan and Timo asked ourselves how we could support our locals here in Malmö. Restaurants were losing 80% of their traffic overnight. That meant they lost 80% of their revenue as well. Everyone we talk to in our community could not imagine living in a city without the favorite spots. Restaurants and cafes we all learned to love. No more great food and coffee? No chance, - we said and started to build Yourlocalhero.org.

24 hours later we launched a service that made it possible for fans to buy digital gift cards in their favorite restaurants. Give support now and enjoy the experience later -  after the crisis!

In one week:

- We launched in 3 cities and two countries.

- We sold gift cards for over 80k SEK while working part-time.

- The initiative got covered by 30+ newspapers and raised awareness. What a massive support for local businesses!

- We've got a great approach v and had meetings with 5 unicorns about collaborations.

With this said we reached product-market fit in record time. The right idea at the right time. We solved a temporary problem for an industry that had to open up to new solutions to their problems. Two weeks later we shifted our focus to make our solution into an open-source project. So more people could help their locals.

Foodora hit the jackpot with Covid-19. Our local favorites didn’t. Foodora takes 30% of every sold meal. Wow, right? So we started to help out with creating take-away systems 100% owned by the restaurants. Using Typeform, Zapier, Stripe and Google Sheets.

Joel at Mat- och Chokladstudion bought a cargo bike to serve his customers. Speaking of quick adaption! By doing this, he found new customers and helped old ones in the area. When the customers are changing their behavior the smartest way to react is to keep up with the change. It means to prototype, test, build an MVP to develop new ways of serving the business.

So let me share with you my thoughts on opportunities during the Covid-19 crisis.

1. Take advantage of changed behaviors

Every business across every industry has one common problem to deal with right now. It's quarantines, social distancing, and even handling another shutdown or crisis if (when?) needed.

Interesting that even the fields that look the worst right now will not disappear. Even the most challenged sectors will reappear in a different form instead. That is a perfect opportunity for startups to try new ways to approach the most damaged fields. When we are changing our behaviors, we need business models to change their behaviors with us. Be the one who will fulfill fundamental and emotional needs. And do it in different and innovative ways.

And what about the consumers? They are also looking for new things to do. Now they have to spend more time at home, but of course, they still want to feel alive and feed their brains. They still want to see friends, listen to new music, try out new recipes.

Our behaviors changed and are now “the-new-normal”. So why wouldn’t you be the one creating new behavior and consumption patterns.

2. Try new things and iterate on new business models

As a startup founder, you have to think about fulfilling fundamental human needs in new ways. Get creative here!  And then look even deeper to find secondary and tertiary opportunities. Those usually come from changes in behavior and consumption.

Take the simple handshake. People are no longer shaking hands. And they may not shake hands much ever again. But it doesn’t mean that we will stop greeting each other - it still remains important. What could replace it and what opportunities might that create? Or in travel, the first-order impact is to stay away from planes and hotels as people fear the virus. The second-order impact is to change travel patterns. How? By shifting travel to open spaces where we all feel safer- like, for example, hiking in national parks.

The tricky part is that the first order is always obvious. As you move into the second and third layers, there is more room to try new things and iterate on new business models.

People are now more open to change than they have been in many years. They will try new things and change their consumption patterns and behaviors. So here we have a historic opportunity to tap into massive shifts and build something unique, durable, and scalable.

3. Upgrade your talent pool. Easy.

The COVID-19 crisis caused great talent shifting. Many big companies started laying off employees. This is a classic move to downsize and reduce payroll liability. Big corporations have more employees than startups. They also depend more on public markets or investors. As a result - they have no choice but to continue cutting jobs.  This often also means losing talented employees.

Again here you have a great opportunity to move in and hire new talent fast and often at lower salaries. Startups can now recruit experienced new team members! Your potential colleagues are uncomfortable with the risk of sticking around during a decline. In troubled industries especially. And it’s also a win-win situation that favors both startups and the new employees. Smart and wise founders can use this opportunity to pull in top-grade talents into their team.

4. Give people the product they need, when they need it

Maybe you don’t have a fully-developed product with all the technical debt or sunk costs. And even if you have your product - startups usually work agile, adapting to fit current customers' needs.

This is especially important during this time of massive change. You may need to iterate a product many times until you feel you have captured what the customers want. What they want, as we already found out, may and will be very different from what they wanted only six months ago.

Now you also may have a longer time to achieve product-market fit than before. You have less pressure to rush a product to market, burn rates may be lower. Also, incumbents are less likely to launch competing products. They are busy solving more urgent problems.

This may be the best environment to achieve product-market fit in recent history, so don’t miss it!

5. Get your sales meetings and trial customers easier than before

Did you notice that moving to Zoom and other video platforms have made it easier to get sales meetings? That’s because Zoom has replaced in-person. I know many VC’s that, since the Covid-19 crisis, have been investing in startups via online meetings only.

To have an online meeting is less time and energy-consuming. Think about it - you don’t have to actually spend time and money on transport and cover other costs.

During a crisis, it’s also much easier to get people to try your product. Shifts in behavior caused by COVID-19 make it easier to break through and talk to people. So beta testing a new product can seem more relevant. A promise that your product may improve a user’s life or entertain them goes a long way.

People may have more time now, simple as that. Once again - think how much time business travelers are saving by working from home. Teams that ran field marketing, direct mail, or other disciplines are now affected by COVID-19. They will be looking for new ways to do their job. Think about how to fulfill their needs and take action!

I hope you’ll take advantage of these amazing opportunities during the Covid-19 crisis.  And to get more of my coaching - go ahead and join us in The Fast Track Malmö program!

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