ow do you prepare for what you can’t anticipate?
When Quantum Hub was founded at the very beginning of 2020, we prepared for the rapid shifts and changes in the tech and business worlds.
But nothing could prepare us for Covid-19. This global crisis forced us to quickly switch from freeze mode to fight mode, which is why we created a dedicated task force to help our partners with strategic challenges that became relevant due to the pandemic. Assisting companies to make the most out of this situation became our core mission. We wanted to show our clients that they can not only survive these times but prosper and grow thanks to them.
Personally, I have some experience in handling extreme situations. My background includes several years in the IDF’s technology units, followed by working closely with entrepreneurs, leading funding rounds and founding procedures. As VP Operations at Quantum Hub, I established our POC Center, which allows our clients to test and implement cutting-edge technologies. My work basically includes moving from one hectic environment to the next, and the Covid-19 tech task force was definitely hectic.
The task force showed us that our initial hunch was correct; you can identify and seize opportunities under any circumstances. To do so, you have to dig deep and discover a few capabilities and qualities you never knew you had. In the case of many corporates and startups we’ve worked with recently, the following six qualities turned out to be the key to success.
Six pillars of resilience for open innovation during uncertain times
1. Say it straight
In Hebrew, we say “tachles” when we want to get to the bottom line. Typically, when startups approach corporates, they can expect a very vague and possibly slow response. You never really know where you’re standing based on formal communication. During the pandemic, we noticed a more straightforward approach that included telling startups precisely what works and what doesn’t.
Everyone was very respectful of each other’s time, and some companies even went as far as offering specific changes that could turn things around. This proved to be valuable for all parties involved, and it was fun watching companies from all around the world embrace such a “tachles” approach.
2. Run with it
During times of crisis, a company’s level of agility and flexibility can make it or break it. It was great to realize just how much more flexible corporates can be, as many were willing to receive promising products that were not 100% polished.
On the startups’ end, this enhanced agility allowed for specific customization procedures to take place, which made the product more fitting of the corporate’s needs. Startups also created new use cases and implementation procedures for their technology. Set-up and training were done remotely, for example, due to social distancing restrictions.
3. Open your mind
One of the biggest business clichés is “think outside the box,” but the thing about clichés is, sometimes they’re accurate. New market demands forced corporates to ditch the box, and they were open to new ideas and directions.
Companies that didn’t consider healthtech before, for instance, were eager to hear how it can help their business. This opened the door to collaborations that were previously considered unlikely and encouraged startups to keep their minds open as well.
4. Dare to innovate
As I’ve mentioned before, my job often includes bringing ideas into the more practical stages of the process. Implementing new ideas like the ones we came across in the past few months called for a vastly different process to get things done on time. Otherwise, every great solution would have become irrelevant by the time it was finally made available.
The business process itself had to be bolder, and indeed it was. We witnessed NDAs get signed much faster, as companies put bureaucracy aside and reached the practical stage almost immediately. I was proud of our partners and the legal teams they work with. Surely, this was no easy task, and it required a lot of work and a few deep breaths.
5. Solidarity is key
During the pandemic and not only in the startup arena, we’ve seen people and communities come together like never before. In our small innovation bubble, companies were more open to sharing ideas and knowledge. This included other businesses in their field as well as local and global authorities.
Some governments also encouraged innovation in different ways. They invited tech companies to participate in the conversation, implemented new technology themselves, and made sure that regulations will not get in the way of much-needed solutions. Our global village never felt smaller.
6. Productive production
Generally speaking, since March, everything seems more efficient and productive. Meetings that would normally require entrepreneurs to hop on a plane now only demand a quick Zoom call. We are all learning to develop trust remotely and quickly.
This productivity results from a very different state of mind that doesn’t force certain scenarios simply because “that’s how we always do it.” The pandemic shuffled all the cards and suddenly, there’s no one usual way of doing something, which leaves the door open to new ideas.
With vaccination starting this month in Europe, the US and even here in Israel, it’s time to start planning ahead and anticipating which changes will stay relevant once this pandemic is behind us.
While we’re all surrounded by articles telling us that the world has changed forever, many of the above changes will not last, unfortunately. We can assume that Zoom calls will replace some meetings, but startup CEOs will still spend a lot of time at airports.
What will not fade, however, is what we’ve all learned during this crisis. We see how important it is to identify and address a potential partner’s most immediate and painful needs. There’s an opportunity in every situation, we just have to find it. We’ve also learned how resilient businesses become with the right approach and partners and that not even a global pandemic can stop us.
If you want to learn more about our approach to building a POC, join me on January 18 for a webinar where I will host two of our graduating startups to talk about the what, the why and the how of POCs.