March 25, 2020

Resources for Startups During COVID-19 From Amadeo

By Katya Kohen
We hope everyone is staying healthy and sane during these unprecedented times. I imagine many of your initial goals and plans for the 2020 have fallen by the wayside, as many of you are figuring out how to stay afloat. In an effort to help, we've put together some tools, articles, advice and resources we've seen from experts / publications that we subscribe to.

Also, we're working on our monthly WhoIsRaising / Venture Box newsletter to our 700+ investors, which typically features startups raising capital. In light of COVID-19, we wanted to share with investors how you guys are handling these times, and most importantly, if any of you needs help from investors or have something you'd like to share with the network, please let us know so we can include that in our newsletter. I am sure many VCs / Angels are looking for different ways to help, so please don't hesitate to send it our way.

If you're an investor at an institutional VC, SFO, MFO or are an active angel investor, sign up to receive our monthly early stage dealflow newsletter here. We've got a few deals in the pipeline that we'll be sharing next week!

Are you guys offering any discounts / offers that you'd like us to help promote? Let us know!

VentureBox COVID-19 Crisis Management Program

Here at VentureBox, we created a special crisis management track for revenue-generating brands. You can click here for more info and to apply.

In the next 4 weeks, we'll analyze your financials and marketing efforts to ensure your business continues to thrive. We'll choose 5 startups to receive CFO and CMO assessment + recommendations, access to partnership perks and access to our Growth Capital for $100K - $500K which can be used to cover (but not limited to) Inventory build-up and Outstanding Purchase Orders. Deadline to apply is on March 27th.

VC Industry Outlook

Many of you may have read Sequoia Capital's 'The Black Swan of 2020' piece warning their portfolio companies on the economic effects of COVID-19: conserve cash and cut costs.

Nevertheless, the Fund also says assume that fundraising will be more challenging in the near future while also pointing out that some of today's most successful companies, including Cisco and Google, were born during or right before economic downturns. Read here for Inc's piece that covers it.

Axios states that VC's working from home has not stopped them from investing in startups. On the contrary; over the past two years they have raised $100 billion and many are 'open for business and actively investing'. Fred Wilson agrees.

This Forbes article also validates, so hopefully some good news for startups amidst everything going on.

PitchBook sent out an interesting sunday read yesterday. An overview:

  • Dealmaking in PE will "undoubtedly" decline - investments in distressed assets might become more common.
  • Due to the heap of dry powder, deal financing likely won't dry up the same way it did during the last crisis. But effects will still be felt.
  • If there is a decline in fundraising, their analysts think smaller firms will be hit the hardest. With less capital to spread around, LPs will likely focus on the managers who have provided consistent returns in the past.
  • Their data shows that funds raised immediately before a downturn tend to underperform, while funds that begin investing at the market's low point tend to perform best.

    Some of their most senior analysts pooled their collective expertise to publish a piece examining what the impact of COVID-19 might be on the private markets. The whole thing is worth a read. They hosted a webinar on Wednesday, March 25th to walk through their most recent reporting - we will update here with a link to playback!

Ed Zimmerman's Forbes article from March 23rd containing insights of VC's worldwide of whom most have been in the industry before 2008, during the market's last downturn:

His TLDR: Deals are still happening (more so where there are pre-existing relationships). This contrasts prior crises (July 1997, Spring 2000, September 2001, August/September 2008) when the venture markets ground to a halt as people recalibrated.

Multiple VC's agree that it's still too early in the process to really tell what's going to happen, besides the fact that it depends on where your startup / fund is in its lifecycle.

Other Crisis Management Advice

Deloitte published a report 'COVID-19: Managing cash flow during a period of crisis'. The free 10-page downloadable report suggests ways organizations can mitigate damages to their business during this volatile event.

Inc. published an article on how to handle a cash-flow crisis - swallow your pride and cut all non vital costs.

And if you're early stage and find yourself with less than one year of runway, Y-Combinator's Dalton Caldwell wrote a piece a few years back that's relevant now.

Steve Blank suggests operating in uncertainty includes asking yourself 4 key questions - around your burn rate / runway, what does a new business model look like, and if this a three month / one year / three year problem, what will your investors do?

As for the long term, this is a great time to continue investing in relationship management, and is one of the most important times to keep a close relationship with your network. Get in contact with your investors and give them an update on your situation, even if your situation right now is unclear. Let them know you hope they are all safe and healthy and that you are following up ASAP with more information. Communication is key. This not only goes for clients/investors, but also customers. Inc's Betsy Mikel interviewed Mark Cuban on weathering an economic downturn, worth a read.

Forbes offered some helpful advice, be sure to have a dependable board of directors and become a great storyteller about how your company successfully weathered the storm.

The US Chamber of Commerce suggests considering business interruption insurance. 'Ask your insurance broker about business interruption insurance to cover unexpected major events and see what qualifies for coverage. It may not cover this emergency, but you'll be better prepared for the next time your business suffers similar economic losses'.

Helpful Webinars / Events / Podcasts

Here at VentureBox we're hosting a webinar on how to manage your company finances through crisis/ social instability. Tune in on Wednesday at 1PM ET. Questions answered will include: How to communicate to all stakeholders (employees/customers/investors), where to seek sustainable financial solutions that can get the business through ups and downs, and when the worst is over, where to go from here?

If you're looking for a good podcast while you take a (solo) walk outside, StrictlyVC interviewed Chris Douvos on Friday March 20, a longtime LP whose organization has stakes in numerous name-brand venture funds (and, more directly, in startups). Douvos has lots of insights of what's happening right now across venture portfolios; he's pretty candid about how much he doesn't know, too. As he told them, "I think we may have twists and turns that we don't even understand."

Female Founders Alliance is hosting a discussion with Brad Feld, MD at Foundry Group on Thursday, April 2nd. They'll talk about how to manage your startup during uncertain times. Register for free here.

The Michigan Small Business Development Association is conducting and has uploaded previously conducted webinars you might find helpful, including navigating the cash flow crunch, e-commerce during COVID-19 and HR management.

Data Future Lab is hosting a free webinar tomorrow with GK Training to teach you how to be most effective while pitching remotely to potential customers and investors.

Charlie O'Donnell of Brooklyn Bridge Ventures will be holding 'Veteran VCs Talk About Weathering Tough Times' will be broadcasted on Thursday March 26 from 2:30 PM to 3:30 PM (EDT). Veteran VCs (including Brad Feld of Foundry Group and Todd Dagres of Spark Capital) will discuss what it's like for the startup community to experience a downturn".

NextGen Venture Partners has shared three different podcasts so that you can be informed on how can approach and analyze the financial and economic impacts of COVID-19. The podcasts discuss subjects like: the uncertainty of the current public and private markets, the impact on the rental housing market, and a discussion with Taylor Graff (head of asset allocation research at Brown Advisory)

GoldmanSachs's podcast features top economists and strategists discussing revised forecasts for the US economy and corporate earnings and the prospect of the federal stimulus programs in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak". They uploaded another episode of 'Talks at GS' which talks of a 'light at the end of the Pandemic tunnel' and discusses the COVID-19 updates with leading health experts and business leaders.

Financial Resources and Loan Programs

Congress and the White House struck a deal for a $2 trillion stimulus package on March 25th. The plan would provide direct payments to taxpayers, jobless benefits and a $500 billion fund to assist distressed businesses, with oversight requirements demanded by Democrats.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has increased its funding pool from $20 billion to $50 billion in response to the virus.

It is currently offering low-interest disaster loans up to $2 million for small businesses suffering losses due to the coronavirus. These loans, per the SBA, can be used to pay debts and cover payroll and other bills. You can apply online once the governor of your state submits a declaration of emergency. Inc. put together some thoughts you should consider before applying.

Aside from the SBA, corporations like Facebook, Amazon and The Restaurant Workers' Community Foundation, have announced millions in funds for small businesses and startups. Here's a list with further information, some interesting headlines from it:

  • Facebook announced a $100 million grant for small businesses impacted by COVID-19 and launched the Business Resource Hub, which features recommendations to help small businesses stay connected to customers and stay on track.
  • JPMorgan pledged $50 million to help struggling customers, and $8 million in aid to small businesses, specifically.
  • Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman announced the company is providing $25 million in coronavirus relief for independent restaurant and nightlife businesses in the form of waived advertising fees, and free advertising, products and services.
  • Last but not least: Mark Cuban Companies will reimburse employees for any lunch or coffee purchases from local independent small businesses.

Tools for your Business and Working Remotely

Clear Communication

Zoom seems to be winning the popularity contest during this time, but here are some suggestions on alternative collaboration tools for you and your remote team if you'd like to try something new. Here you'll find suggestions on how to onboard your team to this new way of working, if your team or some members aren't used to working remotely.

In response to COVID-19, Minim is giving away 4 months of free service to remote workers. They specialize in secure WiFi of great quality at home.

Establish Structure

Some people are just not used to all the 'freedom' at home, or even lack some self-discipline. You can help your employees by giving them a structured routine they should follow. Daily check-ins, one-on-on or with the full team , can help with structure, routine and keeping up with the social aspect you've established.

Act with Compassion

This is a difficult time for everyone, requiring adjustments and entering unfamiliar terrain. Keep in mind that some of your employees' performance will decrease, due to the sudden changes. It is important to acknowledge stress and listen to your employees needs.

Limit Social Isolation

A feeling of isolation and loneliness can occur for those who made an abrupt shift to remote work. Implement virtual coffee breaks and create moments specifically for social interaction. These are just as important as a daily check-in on their progress.

Staying Sane During COVID and Staying Home

We hope that you're all safe and healthy at home. There is only so much information about the virus you can (and want to) read, and with all the information out there it might be hard to sift through all of it. As 'coronavirus' has become the biggest search topic, Google launched a (US-only for now) COVID-19 page and search portal with safety tips. Here's the link to find information to answer your questions and uncertainties regarding COVID-19.

Maintain a routine. All this 'freedom' could be overwhelming when you are not used to dividing and managing your own time. So, add some structure to your day. "Social distancing should not disrupt your sleep-wake cycle, working hours and daily activities".

Ryan Robinson recommends the following 85 books for Entrepreneurs, Creatives, and Professionals to read.

Or invest in yourself by doing a bit of marketing for your own work. Does your personal website need an update, or your portfolio perhaps?

Now could be a great time to get into mindfulness and meditation. This can seriously help you stay sane and keep your mind healthy during this time of extreme changes to your daily life. It makes total sense that meditation apps see to spike in downloads lately. Headspace is a well-known platform that focuses on meditation & mindfulness, and in this article they explain how these tools can help you during the COVID crisis. For free live meditation sessions you should check Core: every weekday (at 8am, 12pm and 5pm PST) live through their Instagram Story.

Stay healthy and don't get tempted to stay in your PJ's in bed all day. Keep exercising. Exercise at home with these great workout applications. Here are some links to popular apps: (Fitness apps) & (Apps for women).

Will this time spent at home, could be a good chance to invest in that new hobby or learn a new skill! Check out and sign up for a masterclass.

Robinhood gives useful advice on how to invest in a time like this. See this link for the full article.

Extra (fun) bullet points in "Staying Sane During COVID and Staying Home"

  • Free binge watching during your quarantine
  • Are you remote working and living alone? Read this article on how to be alone with yourself! Or maybe you are remote working from a house full of family / roommates. Here's how you stay sane and don't get annoyed with these people!

Any Special Offers You'd like to Market?

Lots of startups are offering deals etc. in an effort to increase revenues at this time. Let us know if you're currently promoting anything, and we'll be sure to let out investor readers know!Here are a few from the VentureBox Family:EAR.AI - Lend an Ear has developed a tool to understand the mood and need of employees, initially focused on women. Due to the sudden widespread shift to remote work, Lend an Ear wants to offer their services to companies by running a free pilot for their community members. Benefits include:

  • Measure how your remote employees are feeling
  • Provide an understanding of the feelings and needs of employees; (i.e. what questions are on their minds)
If you are interested in running a free pilot, let us know and we will connect you!

The Great Eros (luxury lingerie shop) has seen curious growth during quarantine times… check them out and purchase using the code "StayHome" for 15% off.

Tampon Tribe, a California-based startup producing organic cotton tampons, pads, and silicone-free menstrual cups, is offering 20% your first month using the code 'VENTURE20'.

Loli is offering discounts on their natural Grape Hand Tonic sanitizer made with organic ingredients. Currently 20% and free shipping when spending over $50 through their website Click here for 20% off.

Apiterra Honey, creator of soft raw honey - a semi-liquid unprocessed honey, and super honey - a soft and raw honey flavored with super food ingredients, is offering 25% off online using the code 'ONLYRAW'.

Stay Safe, Sane, Healthy and Indoors!

Sending good vibes,