Updated 30 April 20
Uncertainty is a word that strikes fear into the hearts of many. But entrepreneurs? Absolutely not.
Disruption is often a by-product of both uncertainty as well as innovation and though it may seem a strange time to think about starting a business, throughout history there have been companies borne during times of global and economic uncertainty. Airbnb, Uber, Whatsapp and Pinterest all rose from the ashes of the last financial crisis.
When you pause to think about it, challenging market conditions offer startups the perfect opportunity to enter the market as large competitors are forced to slow down. If your startup can successfully navigate through an economic downturn, it will be ideally placed to thrive when the economy picks back up.
Whether by creating a new company or accelerating an existing business, we asked our 6 new founders how they are using this time to build on their startup.
Losing paper receipts is something we are all too familiar with, but for busy tradespeople, this becomes evermore problematic when they need to file their tax return. ReceiptShed is looking to solve this issue by creating an application to streamline administrative tasks for tradespeople on-the-go.
“Accurate invoicing from tradespeople has been a problem for a while now, but the relevance and the need for ReceiptShed has been heightened in current events. At the moment people aren’t able to go out and work, so in order for the self-employed to survive financially, the government has put in place an income support scheme. Dependent on the accuracy of their self-assessment tax returns. These are extreme circumstances we are experiencing so by building on ReceiptShed now, we can help tradespeople prepare for any other unforeseen challenges in the future.”
- Gwion, cofounder of ReceiptShed
Partnering with Nova, experienced Vet Ben is developing Vidivet. A service to enable pet owners to liaise directly with qualified veterinary professionals before booking an appointment. Vidivet hopes to reduce the volume of unnecessary appointments in practices, waiting times for required appointments and better serve worried pet owners.
“The importance of pets on the family unit’s wellbeing is really highlighted in times of stress and uncertainty. Now as the pace of life slows down, it is being realised that innovation within veterinary services has been neglected and we should look to see how we can optimise our pet care for the future. Whilst there will always be some physical pet services innovation could never replace, such as grooming and vaccinations, supporting and maximising pet’s health from afar is something we can, and should do.”
- Ben Sweeney, Founder of Vidivet
Nova has partnered with Comesto to develop an online marketplace connecting hospitality sector buyers with artisan food and drink manufacturers across the UK. The platform acts as a digital wholesaler, helping buyers to discover and purchase new and exciting products and ingredients, whilst offering producers a distribution channel that’s specifically tailored to smaller scale ‘craft’ producers.
“Any company that operates in a highly competitive market knows one of the biggest challenges is getting noticed. Though the current situation has had a horrible impact on the food and drink industry, when the restrictions on hospitality venues come to an end, it will bounce back rapidly. Until this time, it gives Comesto the opportunity to open lines of contact with food and drink brands so when restaurants, bars and retailers reopen, we are there as a tool to get them back on their feet quickly.”
- Valentine, Cofounder of Comesto
The current buying process for furniture retailers means it can take up to 6 months for a product to get into stores. The Bolda team aims to speed up the buying of stock, whilst reducing time, money and resource within purchasing teams by creating a ‘one-stop-shop’ platform with easy access to trend reports.
“At the moment shops are unable to trade so they’re not making any money. Businesses will want to hit the ground running when they get back and not waste their time researching trends and sourcing trade reports. Additionally, with customers spending more time at home, they will have the opportunity to plan decor changes and inevitably, shops will see a surge of customers through their doors. Stores will need to update existing stock quickly with the latest trends and Bolda wants to be there to help restock in optimum time.”
- Gregg, founder of Bolda
Research shows that good employee health leads to better workplaces, improved productivity and financial outcomes. There is growing recognition from UK businesses on the importance of mental health and wellbeing of their employees, with now 500,000 workers trained as a mental first aider.
Finding and identifying quality service providers that can deliver the relevant training to staff, at the right time and price with the correct insurances and registrations, is quite complicated and very time consuming for employers. Simply People is making it easier to connect with quality service and products, helping to provide the relevant occupational health training for businesses.
“I’ve worked within occupational health services for over 12 years and I’ve seen the growing recognition and the importance of mental health and wellbeing on business. Now people are working from home, companies that don’t have mental health aiders will be struggling to support their staff and this is likely to show in their productivity levels. When people return to work, companies may decide to look to improve the wellbeing services they offer to their employees. We want to be there to make it easy for companies to access quality service providers to do so.”
- Danny, founder of Simply People
For those living abroad with an ageing parent left behind, trying to take care of them from a distance is hard. Especially, if they become ill. The experience can be emotionally distressing as researching services and medical professionals that can help their parents is difficult and time consuming. Currently operating in India, ParentCare is a digital health platform designed to help ex-pats procure medical and care services for their relatives back in their country of origin.
“Definitely during these uncertain times, Indian diasporas will be hugely concerned for their families wellbeing and safety. ParentCare has secured medical suppliers in Mumbai, who will offer bespoke services to Indian diasporas wanting medical help for their family in this worrying period.”
- Bharat, founder of ParentCare
The launch of our new immersive online mentorship programme has meant Nova have been able to continue serving founders remotely. Despite people forced to work from home and an unexpected surge in applications to our startup programme. Developed in partnership with Ash Maurya, award winning startup author of Running Lean and Scaling Lean, the online course guides you through the fundamentals of building a successful startup and prepares you for pitching to our investment panel.
If you would like to learn more about how you can benefit from guidance on building your startup from the industry's best, apply here.