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  • Writer's pictureAmu Fowler

Weather the storm

Updated: Apr 7, 2023

In consideration of the COVID-19 crisis we organized a second virtual startup gathering to find answers to questions circulating in the community. Below is a summary of the second Virtual Meet (April 4th)

Questions for Panel

Aaron Enatsky - Partner @ Resolute Law | Cynthia Traeger - CEO @ Pacific, Chairman @ MIT Enterprise Forum DC | Stephanie Asher - Associate Director for Innovation @ GWU | Moderator: Stephen Gheysens

1) Is our startup eligible for Financial Aid (Grants and Loans) and what are the steps to get help locally?

  1. Pre-existing Grants: Federal grants and cash already allocated to university programs aren’t going anywhere. iCorps, NIH funding, and the SBIR/SBTTR grants are still available.

    1. For COVID-19 Loans and Grants: Businesses under 500 employees can first and foremost apply for an Emergency Grant with SBA for 10k. Application takes 20 minutes. We encourage you to do this asap.

    2. EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loan) is up to $2M, PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) is up to 10M.

    3. PPP is to help cover for payroll and rent expenses. If you use the loan specifically for what it's designed for, there’s a chance those portions may be forgiven but the guidance on that is still unclear. As a contractor (1099) you may be eligible for PPP if you had income last year as a contractor, but right now the recommendation is to treat it as a loan. The rate on the loan is changing but by law can go up to max 4%, as of today it sits at 1%.

    4. You must have a banking relationship with your lender to be able to get a loan from them. All startups should reach out to their bank and ask them what procedures they have in place to facilitate a small business loan and work fast to get your financial and HR records together. You can also find SBA recommended lenders on their site.

    5. Guidance, eligibility, rates - the information changes on a day to day basis. The word today may not be what is in a week…

2) How can we do customer development right now, how do we validate/invalidate problems in this current climate?

  1. Unfortunately the old customer interview pitch and intro doesn’t work anymore, you have to add in the acknowledgement of this crisis. And you will have to do all customer discovery interviews virtually. Connect not from a place of sales but from a place of understanding. It's also good to evaluate what are some core needs of a customer that has not changed during this climate. You can see those as opportunities of sustainable values you can deliver as a business.

    1. Understand what problems your customers are having right now, our inclination is to focus inward and think about our own needs, but at the end of the day if you don’t have customers you don’t have a business. If you put yourself in your customer’s shoes, you will serve yourself best. And you must transition the way you do customer development, business development, marketing and sales, and cut costs where you can. Linkedin Premium has been a go-to for businesses who are transitioning from networking events to online BD.

Community shared resources and links via event chat

  • PPT from Steve Blank on how to do customer discovery during this crisis.

  • ProResource - A local expert on creating your Linkedin strategy

  • Main Street Bank has been pretty proactive about communicating the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) I sent the info over to a friend yesterday and he was able to get an application submitted.

  • SBA 10k loan that does not need to be paid back:

  • If you're a 1099: Apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (up to $600/wk thru July 31)

  • Also, an additional resource from Steve Blank on COVID business strategy can be found here:


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.

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