COVID-19: Fearful time or unique opportunity? Tips to help startups during lockdown
It’s no surprise that with the lockdown effects of COVID-19, physical agtech events have been ground to a halt. The solution? Taking advantage of our online community.
Content that would normally be exclusive to a ticketed event is now live on demand. We can watch our favourite keynotes in the comfort of our own homes; its never been easier to connect with the agtech ecosystem.
But what if you’re a startup? This could be a fearful time or a unique opportunity. To capitalise on the latter, we called on three of Australia’s innovators and champions for entrepreneurship to share their tips on how our agtech startups can maximise on the online community during this time.
Managing Director of AgriStart, Dr. Natasha Ayers says her company has had to adapt and change their normal way of doing business.
“We were certainly shocked when lockdown hit. We had just kicked off our Harvest 2020 Accelerator Program, we had our launch and everyone was generally excited for the innovation to come but shortly after we had to shut down the physical aspects of the program and turn everything online. We normally have a residential camp for our startups, connect them with mentors and have valuable networking time but now this is all on Zoom,” said Dr. Ayers.
Dr. Ayers notes that there has been real advantages to taking their physical masterclasses digital, as they are able to gain high-quality speakers who normally wouldn’t be able to physically attend the event.
With investment in the agtech sector potentially grounding to a real halt right now, Natasha offers advice to startups still looking to raise capital.
“Get yourself in a position to raise capital at a later date, polish your pitch decks, and work on connecting and gaining customers as sales revenue is the best capital you can get,” said Dr. Ayers.
AgriStart’s tips to startups:
Julia Waite, Head of Operations at the Food and Agtech Accelerator, SproutX was in the midst of recruitment offers to startups for this year’s Accelerator Program when lockdown hit.
“We’ve had to delay our launch as long as possible. Although we have been able to launch some online content, we don’t want to compromise on the valuable face-to-face meetings for our cohort,” said Ms Waite.
Like AgriStart, Ms Waite says that the positive in this is being able to expose their startups to opportunities that might not have happened otherwise.
“This virtual revolution brought on by the lockdown has opened up some cool opportunities. We are able to have international guests and speakers online who might not have normally attended our face-to-face meetings,” said Ms Waite.
Ms Waite says startups should look anywhere where they can drop overheads, analyse their cash flow and try to weather the storm as best as possible. Startups who are still looking at the possibility of raising capital may consider reducing their round by 25%, given the current environment.
Chris Romano, Co-Director at SproutX shares his tips for startups:
Another positive initiative has been created from a collaboration between the Charles Sturt Innovation Hubs and NSW Department of Industry – The Founders Collective.
The Facebook Group is a collection of digital content aiming to connect, share, educate and support founders as they navigate through this uncertain time.
The team at the Charles Sturt University Innovation Hubs share their tips on how startups can maximise on this downtime:
If you would like to join The Founders Collective, please visit the Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/238698493933629/
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