Startups Pivoting Their Way Through The Pandemic
Updated: May 20
Over the past months, we’ve seen and felt the enormous impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the global economy. Operating in such a volatile landscape is no easy feat for anyone—but the difficulty is magnified tenfold for hundreds of startups like us across the country.
For us to gain better insight into the gravity of the situation, we once again partnered with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Philippines, IdeaSpace Foundation, and DTI in launching a needs assessment survey focused on Philippine startups. As it is important for us not only to share the results but also to discuss in depth the key data points from the 2020 Philippines Startup Survey: COVID Edition, we sat down with founders and enablers to further understand the major challenges and needs of our community.
QLITAN: Mind The Gap - Bridging the Needs of PH Startups During COVID-19 Crisis
Our powerhouse panelists together with over 120 QTIES from the startup community put their heads together to explore ideas and solutions to navigate through the pandemic and come out of it stronger than ever.
For the QTIES who missed our special online QLITAN last May 12, we’ve got you covered. To fill you in, here’s a rundown of the important insights, notable notes, and quotable quotes from our webinar:
A brighter tomorrow
We’ve noticed how COVID-19 has been an unexpected catalyst for numerous pivots as the crisis drives us to reconnect with our priorities and our core mission. This thought was further emphasized by Alex Cabrera, Chairman of PwC, who shared an interesting quote from Bill Gates,
“During World War II, an amazing amount of innovation, including radar, reliable torpedoes, and code-breaking, helped end the war faster. This will be the same with the pandemic”.
An enabler’s response to the survey
Enablers like the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) offered reassurance to revitalize the economy and support the startup community by providing assistance during these unusual times. They are currently working on several initiatives including extending financial aid to at least 70% of startups with runways of only up to 6 months.
To pivot or not to pivot
This seems to be the primary question entrepreneurs found themselves pondering during the first few weeks since the implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in the Philippines.
The severity of the pandemic ultimately snuck up on all of us, sending entrepreneurs into a scrabble to quickly adapt to new realities. Over half of the survey respondents (51%) decided to reduce the level of their operations in response to the turbulence COVID-19 has brought and continues to bring to their businesses. To maximize operations amid the crisis, Roland Ros, Kumu’s founder even shared a bit about his strategy—evaluating important business aspects, including cash runway, fundraising, sales, forecasts, marketing, head count, and capital seeding.
Because startups are agile in nature, some entrepreneurs (49%) made an important business decision to leverage their grit and pivot their way through the pandemic. As the pandemic isn’t showing signs of slowing down, Abbie Victorino, the founder of StyleGenie, saw an opportunity to shift her focus from providing virtual styling services to launching GrocerGenie, an online grocery marketplace in hopes of helping in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. JC Bisnar, the founder of Investagrams, also made a similar call—revamping its services to offer better opportunities by introducing global markets to Filipino investors.
So, to pivot or not to pivot? It'll depend on your business model among many other factors. As the panel agreed, there’s nothing wrong with choosing to ride out the storm and focusing simply on surviving in the interim.
Keeping the bayanihan spirit alive
We also put forward our latest initiative, #SupportStartups to help fuel the engine of the Southeast Asian startup ecosystem and power through the current turmoil. The #SupportStartups website aims to provide a platform to empower startups to sustain operations through continuous brand exposure. In the era of social distancing, we turn to bayanihan to keep our local businesses afloat amid the crisis.
Exploring B2G during these turbulent times
Now more than ever, as the crisis has exposed the vulnerabilities of our public systems, the startup community must turn to dynamic collaboration to rise to the challenge and play a vital role in tackling the pandemic.
Our government needs technology, digital infrastructure, and innovation to facilitate efficient delivery of public services and ensure fast, contactless, and smooth-sailing operations to successfully beat the novel Coronavirus. As entrepreneurs, we are great problem-solvers—at times like these, exploring B2G opportunities is essential because our government urgently needs our help and support as much as we need theirs.
In such difficult circumstances, as we are shaken in the most dramatic way imaginable, our startup community needs to work together and support one another as best we can. We must remember that this too shall pass as long as we uphold the Filipino values of bayanihan and malasakit.
Not a fan of reading? No judgement here, video content definitely has a place in our binge-watching hearts! Don’t worry, the QLITAN: Mind The Gap - Bridging the Needs of PH Startups During COVID-19 Crisis is up on our Facebook page, so do check it out!