Finding the Upside: 5 ways startups can support one another during the Covid-19 pandemic

This is part of Antler's "Finding the Upside" series, aimed at supporting and empowering the entrepreneurial community during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The effects of Covid-19, or the novel coronavirus, are being felt in communities across the world. 

As people and businesses find a new normal for operating under government-imposed health and safety restrictions, it's an ideal time for founders and startups to support one another to stay ahead and afloat.

The agile and reactive nature of small business makes them more equipped to serve consumers in uncertain times, pivoting and adjusting as needed to survive. But it will take the community to ensure this shift is successful and sustainable.

With that in mind, here are some easy and straightforward ways founders and startups can support one another during these turbulent times.

1. Share great tools and resources with each other

Antler’s operations team globally is now working remotely. While the dispersed nature of Antler’s global network means our teams are familiar with online tools and platforms, there are some tools our teams have started using recently which are highly effective in maintaining cohesiveness and holding meetings.

Here are our top picks:

  • Slack: For day-to-day communication with teams
  • Zoom: For group video discussions, meetings and virtual events
  • Trello: For teams to-do’s and task prioritisation
  • G Suite: For sharing documents and presentations
  • Eventbrite: For engaging community and marking virtual events

Other organisations have now made many of their most popular remote working tools available for free in response to the impact of the pandemic. Find out more about them by clicking the links below:

2. Join community groups to promote collaboration

Maintaining a sense of community and collaboration is going to be vital for the success of the startup ecosystem over the coming months. Sharing ideas, problems and solutions, having discussions, debates and brainstorming will promote a stronger more unified front in braving the coming economic headwinds.

Seek out your local or regional virtual hubs that already exist and follow or become a member to engage with other like-minded founders and entrepreneurs. For example, in Sydney the Facebook page “Sydney Startups” is a great community where members pose questions, posts about upcoming events, and share ecosystem news. 

Similar groups also exist on Slack. For example, if you’re part of a co-working space such as Tank Stream Labs join their Slack channel and have online water cooler chats with those you would normally see around the office. 

Other grassroots groups will also continue to crop up in response to the impact of the pandemic. You can find these on social media thanks to their viral nature. For example, Antler entrepreneur Blair Hudson created #StayHomeHack, a fully remote hackathon helping the community “stay connected, productive and healthy”. Check it out!

3. Attend and promote virtual community events

Many startups and businesses in the ecosystem use meetups and events to market, build brand awareness and grow their audience. With varying levels of health and safety restrictions now in place, specifically in relation to the number of people permitted in an enclosed space, many startups have been forced to cancel their events or shift them online.

For those who have the capabilities to go down the virtual path, it’s important that the community still shows their support in attending those that they would have otherwise, or make an extra effort to attend new ones now that it can be done from the comfort of your own home.

This support will enable businesses to run as best they can and work towards achieving objectives they set out for themselves become the virus struck. Think meetups, Demo Days, lunch and learns, workshops, masterclasses, and more! These events can even be used as a means to test new products or features, exchange skills, market research - get creative.

4. Share job ads and referrals to support those who have been made redundant

In the spirit of working together, Antler has been transparent about the fact that it has been working with local tech companies to help them improve their employee off-boarding processes and give those who have been laid off or received a redundancy another opportunity: to launch a business with Antler. 

By teaming up with like-minded partners, who are working hard to make the best of a difficult situation, Antler hopes to support the community by providing alternative ways to: 

  • Access funding from day one, as well as a clear path to raising capital 
  • Create new innovative businesses to boost the economy by creating new jobs 
  • Connect with other exceptional talent hungry to build a successful startup

There are a number of other organisations in the ecosystem that are supporting these individuals. Seek them out, share jobs ads, and help local talent stay in the ecosystem and strengthen the community. 

For example, in Sydney, Antler's portfolio company Scouta, which connects hiring teams and top talent, has created a public searchable list of candidates so that hirers can harness these exceptional individuals and keep them in the workforce. 

Similarly, AirTree, an Australia VC firm has this open-source spreadsheet where startups that are hiring can add their available roles so people looking for jobs at startups can have a central hub to access. Read more about it here.

5. Check in on your community

Individuals working remotely for a long period of time can find themselves feeling down, particularly if they are also living by themselves. Be sure to check in on your team mates, and other sole traders who you think might be doing it tough. Have open conversations, virtual coffees and be there for one another. 

Every founder should be applying good mental health practises while in isolation and lockdown. If you’re struggling to identify positive mental health routines or tactics during the coronavirus pandemic, Forbes has compiled this list of nine things you can implement right now. Alternatively, if you need help or someone to talk to you can also contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or www.lifeline.org.au, or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36 or www.beyondblue.org.au.

Supporting startups right now will be the difference in whether small businesses can make it through the impending economic downturn. In situations, where perhaps you can afford to support local businesses or smaller startups, invest your money in their products and services over the industry behemoths, leverage each other’s resources and be an ally to the community. After all, community solidarity will get us this through this tumultuous time together.

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This article was written by Sarah Kimmorley, Director of Communication for Antler, Australia and New Zealand.

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