Written By: Danil Kislinsky, Founder of the community "Go Global Russia (in English)" in the Skolkovo technology park. Partner & VP of Global Business Intelligence at GSD Venture Studios.
“Adapt to the new reality, keeping your face.”
The economy is falling, the dollar is getting more expensive, the country is in “quarantine” and it is not known what will happen next.
This is the time to make bold and innovative solutions. To realize that, it will not be as it was yesterday, we have to change dramatically and look for new business opportunities. Catching up with new trends due to prevailing circumstances.
I have no illusions for the best solution or for having the only right option.
Let's think together what steps are possible to save our business, our money, our future.
I suggest joining forces and sharing the “pain” and ideas of the new “Value Proposition” that you noticed and that helped you.
One of such non-standard ideas, I think the decision of the owners of some restaurants to start delivering food with the help of staff, including the owners themselves.
In the context of the developing crisis, startups still need to look for access to foreign markets, overcoming entry barriers and the lack of contacts and trust.
Startups in Russia (and the CIS) have a very good advantage - this is their team on the local market. In other words, the cost of your team here is much lower than in the "West", but you already know about it.
Now is the time to change and quickly adapt their products to Western markets. Learn and try to sell remotely.
The world is actively moving to “living online”, people are becoming more accessible.
The first and simplest is sales through social media networks. Use all your network and network of your friends.
For example, the Linkedin network provides direct access to the key people in the companies you target. Industry-specific companies, such as TheB2BContacts , also help find the right contacts. The main thing is to use reliable sources with a guarantee of quality.
Make yourself and your business as accessible as possible online. There are a lot of resources for this, such as Google Calendar, Zoom , Calendly , PandaDoc , etc. For example, the synchronization of Calendly, Google Calendar and Zoom allows you to organize a video call with a few simple steps.
You can sign contracts electronically through PandaDoc with western companies, if you have a registered legal entity in their jurisdiction. They recently announced the Free eSign plan (a free ability to sign documents).
You can find an excellent list of resources useful to business and not only, which is constantly updated, in the “ Catalog of anti-crisis resources ”.
We are not limited to one country; we have long had the opportunity to conduct business globally. You need a plan, a team with the right competencies, a product / value that solves the pain of Target Audience, and the optimal use of resources, find suitable markets and areas for investment.
The United States still has huge amount of venture capital and is pouring trillions of dollars into supporting the economy. Having a business in different countries you're making your business diversified.
If you divide startups in Russia and the CIS into 3 categories, then can give the following recommendations:
1. Startup at the stage of an idea or prototype
You are lucky, you will lose less money now and you have a lot of opportunities to determine a new pain and finish your decision. This is the unique time for you, try not to panic, but rather create something that is necessary and valuable for your target audience. The YCombinator lecture on YouTube can help you a lot. They will get you up to the right level quickly and, possibly, it will help to move forward.
2. Startups at their early sales and angel investments
You most likely will have a hard time, but if would you think outside the box, if would you look for a new problem and adapt the product and solution, most likely you will find something completely new that your competitors have not been able to catch yet.
In my opinion, Western markets have become closer due to video communication technologies. You don’t need to go there right away to make a sale. First, you need to do what your target customers would crave to buy, and second, have a strong focus on sales in the team. Make soft sales with a focus on long-term partnerships.
You have the opportunity to enter western markets through accelerators. There are many of them. But who said it would be easy. It is always worth trying to apply to the leading accelerators YCombinator and 500 Startups . I heard a lot of positive things about the Canadian accelerator YEDI. Still not a bad incubator and a fund Unshackled Ventures, they help immigrant founders in the USA.
3. Startups at the stage of active growth, which have already attracted investments of more than $ 1 million and, possibly, even have sales abroad.
Such startups urgently need to optimize their strategy and transfer resources to those markets where the economy is “more stable” and sell their goods and services in dollars and euros, as I wrote above. You should especially review the pain of your target audience and give a solution that will create new real value for them in these circumstances.
One way to strengthen your business and ensure its long-term growth is to find strategic partners in the west who will give you access to customers and investors. Venture studios that have a huge network of companies and investors, as well as their teams in those markets, can help you achieve your goals there.
US entrepreneurs have prepared a list of organizations and VC funds that continue to invest in startups, COVID-19: Startup Resources & Insights . Also, there you will find other useful resources to support the business.
Recently, the NFX fund announced to review up to 9 days the seed-stage deals for $ 1-2 million investment. You can apply on their website .
Some active entrepreneurs are already thinking not only about how to solve the current challenges that came with the crisis but about what awaits our society after this crisis. See an interesting selection of expected trends, After Corona .
In the next few weeks I will be hosting a series of video conferences. If you are a startup founder and speak English, then they will be useful to you. There you can ask questions from successful entrepreneurs and investors and get their answers:
“ Creating an Effective Go-to-market Strategy ” Danil Kislinsky (In Russian)
“ Thriving in Chaos: Going Global to Win ” - Gary Fowler, Founder and CEO of GSD Venture Studios
“ How to Successfully Fundraise in a Pandemic! ”- Bill Reichert, Managing Director at Garage Technology Ventures and a Partner at Pegasus Tech Ventures
“ Growing a Global Corporation ” - David Yang, serial entrepreneur, CEO / Co-Founder at Yva.ai, Founder / Chairman at ABBYY
Let this time be a time of opportunity, where we become the best version of ourselves and make a “miracle”.
I hope the article was useful and helpful for you and allowed you to resolve some current issues at this time.
Here is the gift for those who have read it to the end. It is the list of 342 active Western investors and venture funds that are now still actively investing in startups and their direct contacts.
We regularly discuss all these issues in my Go Global Russia community (in English), join it on my telegram channel @ GoGlobalRussia .
You can also apply for GSD Venture Studios.
If you want to try to move forward on your own, but you do not have enough expertise, I can offer services with www.IBConsulter.com
Originally Posted on vc.ru