How Dozens Of Entrepreneurs Are Navigating Uncertain Waters – Part IV: Issues

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.

IV. Issues

“For startups who were counting on raising funds soon in order to accelerate their growth (like us), it is probably the time to rethink strategy. The traditional startup growth model based on burning BA / VC money is not going to fly well possibly for the next few months. BA and funds will either stop investing for a while, or invest at a significantly discounted pricing in order to accommodate for the newfound uncertainty and risk. That’s a massive issue for early stage startups that don’t have any revenue streams yet but it will force them to become leaner and explore other possible revenue streams.”
– Kevin Muller, Passbolt

“Moving to a fully remote working setup was actually quite smooth for us. Although tele working was more of an exception for our teams at Finologee, we had all the tools in place required to continue to run our business while not being at the office.

Luckily, we had invested in defining procedures and creating operational setups right from the start, because this is not that easy as a regulated financial services company. Many of our clients in the financial industry do not have this flexibility and are still struggling to adapt to this new situation. Nevertheless, being ‘up and running’ is actually only one side of the story.

From what I can see today, on day 4 of this new setup, there are two additional challenges that we will be facing: firstly, the social dimension of our team of 30 not being at the same premises anymore, and with that comes the lack of physical cohesion this new setup entails. We need to emulate this with the video calls and virtual meetings, sometimes forcing ourselves to do more than just the minimum, i.e. hanging around in the Slack channels and sending emails.

The second big challenge I can see here will be to adapt our sales pipeline. As most of the financial and telecom industries are currently busy with adapting to the new situation, ‘non-essential’ projects have been delayed. Fortunately, most of our relations with clients are based on long term contracts, but to bring in new business and new clients, the current situation is a true challenge that we’ll have to tackle in new ways.”
– Raoul Mulheims, Finologee

“More than the drop in our current business, my main concern is linked to the economy going through a recession. All the deals and prospects we worked over the last few months could be completely wiped out.”
– Antoine Hron, Klin

“I might as well say it right now. There are no good times for a crisis. This one comes just at the end of an intensive month and a half of business development during which the objective was clear: to define the editorial road map for the year and to find the partners and sponsors that will allow me to achieve it. Although a number of decisions were taken (fortunately) before the lockdown, several of them were postponed to a later date and with it comes a rather difficult budget for a freelancer.

If there is one critical issue for me – and all independents -, it is the cash flow that may shrink dramatically in the coming weeks. Although the payment of compulsory contributions and taxes has been postponed, the fact remains that our (my) monthly salary depends largely on my ability to generate an annual income based on the needs of partners and sponsors. Honestly, we have to hope that this is a health crisis that will be as short as possible so that the budgets can be opened up again. It is also a wake-up call for me to activate other sources of funding.”
– Charles-Louis Machuron, Silicon Luxembourg

“How can we convince our customers to innovate when the day-to-day business is blocked? Issuers and investors will need some time to rethink their strategies. For a startup, timing is everything.”
– Luc Falempin, Tokeny Solutions

“Sourcing of liquidity and financial resources becomes more cumbersome, as investors and financial institutions become more risk-averse and slower in responding, let alone financially distressed themselves.”
– Marzio Schena, ANote Music

“Let’s face it, the state of the global economy is extremely uncertain right now. Companies and states will take massive hits, and these are issues that affect everyone.

I believe the main issues going forward will be firstly, knuckling down and gritting through the storm, but also ensuring the confidence returns to the market. The current situation will transform the world in ways we probably cannot yet even imagine. The past and future is being transformed into a weird state of “before and after”. Therefore, I think that it is important we never forget who we are, why we are here and the value we bring, as that can be easily buried in the panic surrounding the current situation.”
– Genna Elvin, Tadaweb

“I second all of the above. Access to funding for early-stage startups will become very scarce in the coming months. We’re closely monitoring our cash-burn to try to extend our runway as much as possible.”
– Gaëlle Haag, StarTalers

Read Part I: Working Remotely
Read Part II: Tech Tools Used
Read Part III: Fears
Read Part V: Opportunities
Read Part VI: 24H In A Life Of An Entrepreneur
Read Part VII: How To Face The Crisis Personally
Read Part VIII: How To Face The Crisis Professionaly
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.

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