How do you get adapted to the new normal and create new experiences, that are in some ways better than those before? We had a great example with French Tech e-Connect last Wednesday. The monthly drink transformed into a video session gave some great outcomes: we welcomed some folks from other countries, such as Hong Kong. Thanks to thematic tables, we’ve got some better targeted talks. It was a much healthier session as the amount of beer we consumed was more reasonable than usual. And more importantly this session allowed us to shed light on some great pivots undertaken by our French Tech community members.
“I was having a coffee with one of my suppliers when I heard the announcement of the Circuit Breaker measures on CNA. For The New Luncher that I launched 3 years ago it meant 100% drop of the revenue. The New Luncher’s aim is to re-invent the world of school meals by providing fresh, non-processed quality meals to students. The company was expanding in both Singapore and Hong Kong, and we were working on further growth plans.
Then the COVID-19 put a sudden stop to all our projects. With the schools closure, how could I keep the business going? My supplier was also worried as his fresh deliveries arriving by plane in the coming days wouldn’t meet the demand from the heavily impacted F&B clients.
I didn’t sleep that night thinking about what to do. If we go on food delivery platforms, we would be competing with thousands of restaurants also looking at this option and I wouldn’t be able to pay and keep my team.
In parallel I was struggling to order food for my family on my usual online grocery stores, with the shortage of offer and delivery slots. That’s when the idea of a pivot came: offering the delivery of quality food from my suppliers to my community of families. We worked tirelessly for five days in a row to build a website and we launched www.supermarche.sg.
Today, our chefs are product selectors, the whole team prepares orders and The New Luncher, via supermarche.sg, continues to deliver on its reason to be: bringing good food to families and their children.
The response from the community was very encouraging as our offer was timely and responded to a real social need. Families are staying at home, they are getting back to the joy of cooking and reconnecting through food. We not only maintain the link with our community of families, but also we reach out to new ones.
Supermarche.sg was born to save The New Luncher. We don’t know yet whether we are going to survive this crisis, but we do feel the happiness of being useful at this time!”
“My core business is to help my clients to adapt to changing environments. We constantly speak about how startups get adapted to adverse situations. With this crisis we had to walk the talk and show it’s the case.
Together with my partners we were preparing a startup immersion programme. When the lockdowns started to be announced across the world, we proposed to redesign the process and the experience and transfer it to full online. Our vision was accurate: few days after the kick off Singapore announced circuit breaker measures.
Going full online was a big adaptation work but anticipating a possible lockdown allowed us to maintain the project that otherwise would have been cancelled. Today, follow ups, stand up meetings are done online or in WhatsApp groups. Of course, it’s not the same interaction and the relationship building is more complicated.
The project is progressing and its results will be determinant to see if we keep this full online framework after COVID. For now, I can say that we have been able to quickly adapt and ensure business continuity for the client. That’s already a great learning experience.”
“Hong Kong announced the lockdown 4 days after I landed there to take the lead of Agorize for APAC. I was coming from Canada, where I founded a branch 3 years before. In North America the online culture is much more developed due to large geographical distances. To adapt to the local market we’ve built an entirely online offer for innovation challenges. For us, it was innovation in itself. So when in Hong Kong after 1 week of the lockdown our clients asked us to move challenges online I was able to adapt quickly. It was the first way we pivoted our offer.
The second major change was to adjust our narrative. In a crisis situation when people are panicking about their lives, innovation is the least of their preoccupations. We immediately saw that we need to adapt and focus on collaboration. We created COVID-centric programmes that are aimed to find solutions to the crisis. We tested the first internal challenge on ourselves. It was called “Resilient Agorize challenge”. For me it was the toughest one, and by far.
We invited all employees to work on the question “How can we adapt business-wise to COVID?”. We gave them access to all figures so they could see how dramatic the situation was. All together we had to rethink Agorize’s strategy. We had to adapt our teams and concentrate on jobs that deliver value today. We had to abandon few long-term projects and do few job cuts. But the transparency of this transformation project paid ten-fold as it made team tighter than ever. I deeply believe that the way enterprises behave amid COVID crisis will leave a mark on their company culture for the next decade.
In total, we’ve launched 6 different programmes in 3 months and I can tell it was a success. Firstly, because the number of people who signed up was very high despite the fact it was short on time. Even a niche, medtech-oriented, very technological “CODE LiFE Ventilator Challenge” gathered over 2,600 participants from 94 countries. Secondly, the quality of the projects was amazing. But most importantly, the winners are now discussing the implementation with hospitals. And that’s the ultimate goal of each challenge – make ideas happen.”
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