Keep calm and network on: Startup funding during the coronavirus pandemic
Updated: May 3
In 2008, as the Global Financial crisis unfolded, I was a first time CEO/Founder attempting to raise funds. I had a front row seat, watching as funds dried up. Unfortunately, I had a personal stake as well. I remember reading Silicon Valley’s top VC, Sequoia’s directive to portfolio CEOs and have now read version 2.0: the coronavirus.
I think now what I thought then, “That’s great if you’re a Sequoia-funded portfolio company with millions in backing, but what does it mean for a pre-VC funded start-up?”
In 2008, I remember seed money drying up about 60 days after the first market tumble. CB Insights projects a 22% decrease in seed stage funding for 1Q20 due to the coronavirus.
In 2008, I decided to hunker down and wait it out. Now, I advise entrepreneurs to think about the new reality as a business opportunity. Can your product help hospitals? People or businesses affected by lockdown? If a detour in the business model is necessary to keep the business afloat – take it! Innovation does not stop during downturns, so hunkering down and waiting it out is not good enough. A few specific suggestions:
If your company can pivot and help with COVID-19 issues, use these sites to tap into grants:
https://aida.mitre.org/covid/ is the best aggregator of funding opportunities
https://c19hcc.org/ is for correct coronavirus information (useful if need facts to put in a proposal)
https://www.crowdcast.io/e/ts_sbir_howto/register is registration for AMA on April 16th at 3pm EST with Stacy Swider, Director of SBIR Center of Excellence, on How to Apply for an SBIR Grant
If you’re looking for funding/mentoring/connections, park yourself at an accelerator with seed funding in your industry.
Techstars gives up to $120K in funding along with deep industry connections from their corporate partners (blatant pitch for my program)
Techstars offers resources for entrepreneurs
The most important thing you can do right now is stay well. Keep your families and employees safe. Accept your inability to control events and work with what you have.