Boulder Startup Week: what 28 startup leaders think will succeed in a post-COVID world – Boulder Daily Camera

Posted: May 15, 2020 at 9:44 am

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BOULDER A cross-section of interviews with dozens of startup leaders by Boulder-based Rebel Consultants LLC broadly point to personal relationship-building and innovation in the face of crisis as key to success once the world is able to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rebel Consultants CEO Brian Baker recapped the series of interviews with 28 business leaders from early-stage startups to companies in the Fortune 500 during a Tuesday session of Boulder Startup Week.

Baker described the current climate as the largest economic shutdown in the history of mankind, and the federal governments spending to keep commerce afloat as the biggest governmental action in history.

But many of the respondents, including from both sides of the political spectrum, were angry with the federal response being either too financially weak from the view of liberals or too imposing on the free flow of commerce in the view of conservatives.

Theres a huge identity with tribe in the United States. Its not like this is new, but it is being strengthened by COVID-19 and there is a huge level of impatience with anyone whos on the other side, he said.

Yet the leaders in the survey all said businesses will not return to pre-COVID normals because personal behaviors will shift.

That new paradigm will force executives to re-examine every part of their company, from outside vendors to their employees. Baker believes that businesses need to begin preparing to show their clients their value, and employees should be ready to show why they offer more value compared with someone else who is currently among the countrys unemployed.

All roles and vendors will be reviewed for (return on investment), and thats something every worker should be prepared for, he said. In fact, I would go ahead and type up why youre important to the organization, and I would do that all the way to the executive level right now.

Baker said the landscape for calling workers back is a virtual unknown right now for the survey respondents, who arent sure if they would be legally liable if an employee were to contract COVID on the job.

Theyre looking to strike some kind of balance between legal and human capital, he said.

About a quarter of the survey respondents said they were in personal contact with their customers during the past few months, which he derided as a horrible figure. He argues that while marketing remains important, offering generic platitudes in a mass email is less effective than building personal relationships in a time of social distancing.

Stay safe is not something professionals want to see in an email signature, it seems a little trite at the moment, he said.

Baker also suggested companies dont look at dropping prices for their services as a way to increase sales volume, arguing that customers will be willing to pay full price down the road when incomes have stabilized.

All of the survey respondents said they were looking for new market opportunities in a post-COVID world as they try to model other major companies that struck it big in the aftermath of a major historical event.

Baker noted that Facebook and Pinterest launched in the years after 9/11 as people looked to find more communities, while tech startups Venmo, Airbnb and the whitepaper underpinning Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies debuted in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis.

So its not like we cant do well after a big crisis. In fact, we usually do pretty well. And after the 2008 crisis, we got a lot of stuff, he said.

2020 BizWest Media LLC

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Boulder Startup Week: what 28 startup leaders think will succeed in a post-COVID world - Boulder Daily Camera

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May 15th, 2020 at 9:44 am

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