Updated: Apr 15, 2020
In consideration of the COVID-19 crisis we organized a virtual startup gathering to find answers to questions circulating in the community. Below is a summary of the first Startup Gathering event that happened this weekend (March 28th 2020 @10AM)
Questions for Panel
1) What to expect when continuing or starting to fundraise during this crisis?
The amount of cash already in funds won’t change. However, funds may “hold on” to their $$ a bit tighter for the next 2-3 quarters.
We may see less funds being created, so the amount of VC entering the market will slow down. Startups raise money, but investors (funds) also have to raise money - with uncertainty in the economy, the ability for firms to fundraise will slow down, meaning the funds available for startups will go down. Investors are anxious - if you are in negotiations, work to close your round faster.
The industry and problems you are solving really matter. There are opportunities for startups solving problems specifically to this crisis and some are having no problem raising money (i.e. direct virus response solutions). In contrast, in B2B software – which was a strong sector prior to the crisis – sales cycles are already long and will probably become longer.
2) Should I pivot my startup to address this crisis?
Don’t pivot what you do, pivot how you do it. You have to adapt and move fast. Transitioning your team from in person to remote, transitioning how you deliver value to customers who are critical to surviving this crisis as a business. Now is not the time to rethink your value proposition, or make your business model more complex. Try to draw bright short lines from action to revenue. Focus on that. Constraints catalyze creativity!
3) How should our startup approach marketing and sales right now?
If you have reserves, double down - create your online strategy if you don’t have one. If you don’t have reserves : you need to get creative. Focus is your friend. Focus on your core value proposition. If you are pivoting your delivery, ensure your core value prop isn’t suffering as a result of your pivot. Now is the time to ask for sales. Evaluate tactics and channels that you may not have done before, that you may have been “too busy” for before. Focus your tactics - try one thing at a time. Be Hyper-focused around a specific customer need. Create messaging to deliver on that need.
Community shared resources and links via event chat
Growth and Marketing
Interesting data trends for industries, and marketing thoughts by Neil Patel:
For B2B Marketing primer, check out free Digital Marketer Ultimate guide:
For communications in this virtual environment, Nick Morgan's Can You Hear Me? How to Connect with People in a Virtual World.
For B2C marketing and free courses, check out Lurn
For refining the product/service, or exploring new product/service offerings, check out Value Proposition Design by Strategyzer to help you zero in on the problem/solution:
Resources and Forums for COVID-19
Virginia COVID-19 Resources for Small Businesses:
TechNexus list of emergency resources for capital, credit, managing people and staying healthy:
SBIA highlights resources that will be made available with the passage of the CARES Act
SBIR / STTR grants
SBIR-STTR Grants from SBA:
NSF Grants Application Page
Summary of Corona Relief Fund
Hello Alice has a grant initiative for small businesses:
NSF SBIR grant for technologies addressing COVID 19
For fundraising, check out Venture Deals by Brad Feld:
Stimulus Package Summary
Another stimulus package summary by Geek Wire
Startup Communities & Events in DMV:
Great Facebook group for DMV Startup community:
CONNECTpreneur.org as a regional virtual place for connections
Join us for the next Session
We meet on Saturdays at 10am (EST) over Zoom. Availability is limited so please sign up to request a private invitation.
We can keep this effort going with your help!
Join the team dedicated to supporting startups through this crisis.