Follow Diane Twitter Facebook
Email Diane Email
Education
Apr 3, 2020

The Risky World Of Startups

Sponsored Content provided by Diane Durance - Director, UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

How does the coronavirus crisis impact early-stage startups?

Many small businesses, particularly those in the personal services, restaurant, hospitality, and travel industries, have been hit hard. The younger, more fragile firms in those industries will struggle to get back on track.
 
But what about even earlier-stage ventures? Many of the entrepreneurs we work with at the UNCW CIE are in the pre-revenue stages of business development. They do not have employees. They do not have customers. The founders are in the planning stages – researching, interviewing prospective customers, developing prototypes and software, and laying the groundwork to launch their businesses. And without payrolls or lost revenues, there’s not much help for them in the current CARES Act.

On the other hand, they’re accustomed to getting by on a shoestring and can use this time to hone a more viable launch strategy and take into account the, previously unimaginable, new reality of the coronavirus crisis. Something startup entrepreneurs in the past never contemplated.

NC IDEA Foundation includes the following question about risk on their application for entrepreneurs to apply for $10,000 MICRO and $50,000 SEED grants. RISK: Looking across all aspects of your startup - technology, adoption, marketing, sales – what is your riskiest assumption, what keeps you up at night, and what are you doing to mitigate that risk?

I’d be willing to bet not a single entrepreneur in the 14 years NC IDEA has been accepting grant applications has answered that question with: I stay awake at night worried that my business will be wiped out by a national shutdown in response to a pandemic. And yet, here we are.

Last week, I posed this question to the 63 students in my entrepreneurship class that are working on new venture concepts: Pretend you started your business a year ago. How would the coronavirus crisis be impacting your operations? Can you weather this crisis with your original business model?

One student turned it around and asked me: What would you do if you were creating a business while the virus was impacting the country? My answer: If I had a business that was in the pre-revenue stage, I’d be evaluating the business model and determining whether I needed to make changes to launch the business in this new climate. I’d use the 'shelter in place' time to watch what is happening in my industry, identify trends, finetune my business plan, and develop a strategy to launch once the current crisis had abated. I’d prepare my marketing strategy and messaging. I’d also get my investor materials ready – pitch deck, executive summary and business plan. I’d be madly filling out grant applications, applying for opportunities to present to investors, and joining competitions. I’d keep my foot on the gas pedal.

When we get through this crisis, the entrepreneurs that have spent time preparing will have an edge. They’ll have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight and know the importance of a business model that can survive a pandemic and economic downturn. They’ll be poised to take advantage of the emerging trends in education, biotech, healthcare, and technology that are coming out of it.

We’re seeing exactly those types of entrepreneurs in our region – they’re the ones forging ahead in the NC Bioneer Venture Challenge, participating in the current NC IDEA grant cycle, and preparing for the virtual CED Venture Summit in May. I also see those entrepreneurs in my class – almost every student was ready with ideas to position their startup to adapt to new conditions and trends.
    
The CIE is here to help entrepreneurs keep their ventures moving forward. Learn more at www.uncw.edu/cie
 
Diane Durance, MPA, is director of UNC Wilmington's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). The CIE is a resource for the start-up and early-stage business community to help diversify the local economy with innovative solutions. For more information, visit www.uncw.edu/cie

Other Posts from Diane Durance

Uncw cie 2018 9251912058
Ico insights

INSIGHTS

SPONSORS' CONTENT
Brochurepicture 7312020434

Answers To Common Questions About Insurance

Creighton Hayworth - Ameriprise Financial
Carolinemontgomery4

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Forgiveness Planning Update

Caroline Montgomery - Adam Shay CPA, PLLC
Mikeharrington carolinaretreats 2

Vacation Rental Maintenance: What To Expect

Mike Harrington - Carolina Retreats

Trending News

Mayfaire Losing Town Center Drive Tenant

Cece Nunn - Nov 24, 2020

CFCC Foundation Welcomes New Board Members

Christina Haley O'Neal - Nov 24, 2020

TMA Picks Up More COVID-19 Vaccine Trials That Start In Wilmington Soon

Christina Haley O'Neal - Nov 23, 2020

Lindsey Jenkins Earns Double Centurion Producer Award

Christina Haley O'Neal - Nov 24, 2020

With Smaller Local Workforce This Year, GE Aviation Warns Of More Cuts Nationally

Christina Haley O'Neal - Nov 24, 2020

In The Current Issue

Survey: Visitors Come Back For More

Ninety-five percent of surveyed visitors to Wilmington and area beaches reported being satisfied with their experience. Feedback provided in...


Keeping It Real With Board Games

Offering an escape from computers, TVs and phones, board games have made a formidable comeback....


Making The Area Sweeter

Carolina Candy Co. is family-owned and operated maker of gourmet toffees and chocolate confections....

Book On Business

The 2020 WilmingtonBiz: Book on Business is an annual publication showcasing the Wilmington region as a center of business.

Order Your Copy Today!


Galleries

Videos

2020 Leadership Accelerator: Virtual Workshops for Real Leaders
2019 Health Care Heroes
August 26, 2019 Power Breakfast: A Healthy Sale?
2019 WilmingtonBiz Expo Keynote Lunch - CEO, nCino, Pierre Naude`