4 people from 3 different parts of the world, who have never met, came together to host a weekly virtual event live-streamed globally. More than 1200 viewers attended to watch 14 experts speak. Not a single hand was shaken nor a business card given.
As most of the world continues to follow social distancing guidelines, business and networking events have followed the path of pivoting to virtual platforms. The community team from Draper Startup House Berlin, Lisbon and Tallinn are no exceptions.
In light of the pandemic, as well as the current state of events around the world, this article hopes to bring a inspiration and strength to anyone on the Internet who needs it. Here are the highlights of our Europe Breakthrough Follow On – a series of Roundtable talk about the past, present and future after COVID-19.
Kickstarting our first event of the series with a heartwarming story, Bernardo Duque Carreira, CEO and Founder of 8000Kicks shares with us on how his grandmother and her friends are currently making masks from hemp material meant originally for shoes. He says, “what comes around comes around with people’s kindness. Through this situation we are building a stronger family.”
At the same time, Kristiina Alliksaar of Theatre Vanemuine agrees with the same sentiment, illustrating how bigger theatres should look after smaller theatres, by helping them with means and resources, in order to preserve the vital and rich field of Art. As General Manager overseeing close to 400 employees, Kristiina has a courageous and calm demeanour, explaining that “the biggest fear is that we don’t learn from this crisis. Every crisis in history has shown that it will be over, and it’s the same as this one. The better prepared we are, the stronger we will come out of it.”
In line with resilience, Lesley Li, founder of Ypus reminds us that ‘”extraordinary” comes from ordinary people that does extra. And depending on how we see it, crisis or challenges means an opportunity for growth – something entrepreneurs would relate to. Furthermore, people now have more time to think about their lives and dreams, and this will be a perfect time to think about how startup founders can help fulfil goals and aspirations of others.
This brings us to Empathy, where Argo Sildvee, DealMaker at Velvet, an Estonian-based company that won Design Agency of the Year 2020, shares how empathy is a huge part of the Velvet company. A company has to be based on values, even more so now. Human relationship is the key in this moment and the present is the time to build relationships.
Comedians are just like entrepreneurs, and they have to adapt as much as startup founders. We had the pleasure of inviting our first comedian in the history of Draper Startup House. Michele Guido, Software Engineer and moonlights as comedian at Comedy Café Berlin touches as well on the importance of empathy especially in this crucial period. She shares, “Code of Conduct is adapted on just in the comedian world these days, but also on startup events that surround sensitive topics such as technology. It is really about protecting the people there, I want my audience to feel good and laugh, I don’t want people walking out feeling hurt.”
We’re now at the halfway mark, and if you’re getting a little thirsty or snacky by this part of the article, that’s exactly how we felt on the third week of Breakthrough event, where we featured entrepreneurs from the Food & Beverage Industry.
Christine Giffin, Co-Founder of Vinho da Gama shares that the main challenge for her wine delivery company were the limitations of import due to travel restrictions. For example, the company had to re-design packaging as they switched to working with local package manufacturers. At the same time, Yoga Thiyagarajah, Founder at Lion Superfoods touches on new ways to explore marketing for food products, since traditional, physical ways had allowed people to smell, taste and see in real life. Yoga shares, “whatever crisis or challenge we have, we have to stay positive and ride the waves.”
It’s hard to know what the world is gonna look like in the next months. One thing shared in common is that most businesses now have the need to integrate online. When faced with the question on whether demand of service in SaaS has increased or decreased, Priit Potter of Plumbr shares that it depends on industry. For example, in sectors like education, usage has grown a lot as online learning and teaching demands increase.
In line with the topic of education, we have Birgit Lao, CEO of the biggest and greatest education agency in Estonia – Sihtasutus Innove whim starts off by stating that educators has never been busier than now. She shares, “the first two weeks went into supporting teachers and parents, as parents found themselves having to juggle multiple roles in addition to working remotely, but also help their children study independently.’ As for the future of education, Birgit emphasises on the importance of constant feedback, meaning to keep children’s learning scale on track by using developed tools that gives regular feedback instead of depending on final exams.
Finally, our last highlight is of significance as we continue to base almost all work online. Dr. Priya E. Abraham, Founder of Cyberconnecting imparts the importance of cyberawareness. As author of ‘Your Cyberpower. How to Safeguard Your Remote Business’, and founder of the Cyberpower Academy she shares how taking simple steps to be GDPR-compliant can not only provide an advantage for job-seekers, especially for those that work remotely and freelancers, but it also builds digital trust between existing businesses and customers during this crucial period.
And to end off, likening business leaders to Sportswomen and men in Mixed Martial Arts, Priya describes how one has to “Be ready to get up again and continue fighting”, that “It is one of the core capabilities of business leaders that can translate from sports very easily to personal daily agenda, in order to display resilience, perseverance, vision and to keep the team motivated.”
The Europe Breakthrough Follow On Series was a success. Our ability to adapt so quickly to an online framework is also credited to our globally connected operative model at Draper Startup House.
This however would have never been possible without an amazing team, consisting of Henrique Gomes Pereira and Shashikiran Rao from Lisbon, Portugal, Mirell Sork from Tallinn, Estonia and myself from Berlin, Germany. We as a whole learned a lot from this experience – much of which we are going to apply to our work in the future.
It is a stressful and uncertain time for the world, and the only way to face a crisis that makes any sense at all – is together.