What we are experiencing today is unprecedented and offers us the opportunity to rethink our lives and the way we operate. Talking about our stories individually does not seem appropriate. What does seem appropriate is expressing our collective fears, anxieties, ideas and stories as we ride through this pandemic together.
by: Charles-Louis Machuron
illustration: Studio Polenta
How do we – the entrepreneurs, freelancers and startup founders – deal with the situation on a daily basis? How do we organize ourselves to work remotely? What technological tools do we use? What are the risks and opportunities for us? Are we ready to telework? Are all sectors at a standstill or does digital technology allow for the continuity of work? These are questions we’ve decided to collectively explore in this special issue.
We are all at the starting line but we may not all reach the finish line. This is precisely why we have to stick together, support each other, and ask for help (if needed) to get through this crisis.
“We need to try to find opportunities in this mess, instead of losing our focus. If you look at it from our perspective in our industry, some partners or potential customers are now way more reachable and less overbooked then they were before. They have had to shift their focus too, and this time it might be in our favor.”
– Gilles Mangen, Clubee
“Crises can be a catalyst for change. The financial sector is incredibly stuck in what the French would call TFCC: “Toujours Fait Comme Ca”. The status quo frequently wins over better alternatives because change is simply resisted. But right now, the status quo is dead. And, this will force change in many areas.
For us the crisis has produced a new business continuity product in less than a week. We like to think that we always move quite quickly, but this is certainly a record. When the crisis hit last week we huddled up with our team and brainstormed on what we can do with Governance to efficiently keep running our business. When we had implemented that and stepped back, we said: “wait a minute, everyone needs this”. And voila, the birth of a new solution. Every cloud does indeed have a silver lining.”
– Bert Boerman, Governance.com
“The first opportunity is probably to bring the world up to speed with remote and asynchronous working practices. This is something that we have been doing since 2005. When we first came to Luxembourg a few years ago, we were surprised with the resistance that we faced around it. “How will you ensure that people actually work?” is a question that we frequently encountered.
Remote working offers incredible opportunities in hiring the best possible people without geographical constraints. I am not even talking about the diversity and the value it brings to a team. Secondly, there is an amazing opportunity here for companies to rethink their cost structure and become more capital efficient.
I have found that being pushed to the edge is when entrepreneurs truly reveal themselves. It forces them to innovate more, challenge their assumptions and come up with models that are more efficient. In the current scenario, the cash burn of startups will be heavily challenged and companies need to get ready to do more with less if they want to survive. This is an opportunity that should be embraced rather than feared.”
– Kevin Muller, Passbolt
“Each crisis is always followed by an economic boom. In the meantime, we know that we might be “requisitioned” to ensure safe sanitary conditions of health centres or retired people residences which are normally handled by foreign companies.”
– Antoine Hron, Klin
“I can see opportunities at two levels: firstly, our products facilitate digital processes, interactions and workflows. I think that the current shift to increased digital interactions will trigger an increased awareness around existing inefficient procedures. In the long term, this will help us. Secondly, I believe there will be an impact on how we run companies, leading us to question some of the old habits and forcing us to get out of our comfort zones. However, I have to admit that it is a bit early now to talk about the opportunities. Right now, it’s mostly the challenges that prevail.”
– Raoul Mulheims, Finologee
“Education is one of the least innovative industries and this crisis is the catalyst for the innovation boom in Education. With almost every school shut down, people have started to realise the necessity of schooling, teachers and reinforced learning. This industry had to figure out overnight how to transition to digital learning.
Prior to this, we were beta testing our app in closed groups and fixing bugs — and then the crisis hit. Education is a basic human need and seeing so many students, teachers and parents inundated with the situation, we decided to release the beta app to the public and offer our hand to those in need. In our sleep, students and teachers from more than 3000 schools got instant math help from our application. We want to use this opportunity to make sure that learning doesn’t stop under any circumstances.”
– Himadri Pathak, CheckMath
“It is going to be hard, but times like this provide downtime to reflect on what really matters, particularly in business. I believe that the world will emerge stronger from these events with a greater appreciation for health, resources and communication.”
– Genna Elvin, Tadaweb
“Suddenly I see the world I have dreamt about, without the health crisis, obviously! This is what the future of work looks like when it is facilitated by remote working. The stress is gone, alongside the traffic, pollution, and environmental damage. We were not completely prepared for it. The puzzles are already in place. Let’s just put them together ;)”
– Gosia Kramer, The Office
“Tokeny is an enabler for financial institutions. It helps them embrace blockchain. I think that an economic crisis is a good trigger to help these companies realize that their traditional business will not last forever. Today, there is no trust in capital markets. If investors’ portfolios lose some value, they will look for new alternatives.
Blockchain can drastically reduce costs and help stakeholders increase efficiency. It will therefore become obvious that a switch of infrastructure is needed. I am sure that a new recession will force banks to evolve and embrace distributed ledger technologies.”
– Luc Falempin, Tokeny Solutions
“We offer investments in music, an alternative asset which is uncorrelated, positively exposed to a booming streaming economy, and provides steady income flows. As the financial community is desperately seeking a safe asset, do you see this as an opportunity?”
– Marzio Schena, ANote Music
“It’s a chance for us to do what we love. That’s why we created Kyosai.eu but also europ-alerts.com. We are also thinking bout a positive sponsoring system so that our hospitals can receive the necessary funds to get the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to care for the sick. The collaboration between all of us (entrepreneurs) is proof that we all have something to contribute to this ecosystem. I see this as an opportunity and also as a beacon of hope in the future.”
– Johnny Lagneau, Warrigal
Read Part I: Working Remotely
Read Part II: Tech Tools Used
Read Part III: Fears
Read Part IV: Issues
Read Part VI: 24 Hours In A Life Of An Entrepreneur
Read Part VII: How To Face The Crisis Personally
Read Part VIII: How To Face The Crisis Professionally
Read Part IX: How To Keep The Entrepreneurial Spirit Alive
This article was first published in Silicon Luxembourg magazine (special Covid edition “Hope”). Download now.