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 COVID Emerging Observations

Of all the things I envisioned that could ever shut the country down, I didn’t think it would be a health outbreak of movie-like proportions. Within less than two weeks, my world has quickly gotten isolated. It feels surreal to drive down the road with minimal traffic, walking by others and maintaining a certain distance, to not be able to go out and enjoy dinner, to not see my friends at the gym, to be going to the store planning weeks ahead, to drive by signs for unleaded gas at $1.99 (been a minute); the list goes on. That’s not even taking into account the broader experiences outside of the day to day: the markets (intentionally NOT looking at my portfolio), financial vitality/sustainability and the various types relationship between countries.

This  article hit it home for me. It’s really sinking in that this is truly going to be a marathon not a sprint and quite possibly a new way of living. I am beginning to accept also much to my chagrin, it is also not something any of us have line of sight into. As hard as we may try, we cannot predict the who, what and how long. The focus then moved from what to do to how to fluidly approach.

Will and I have been having many conversations with our founders, investors, partners and between ourselves to process what is happening and how it affects the work we are passionate about.  What I love about our community is where some may see the situation as challenging, our entrepreneurial community sees opportunity.  Some observations thus far to share:

  • Keep Fluidity: The flow of money is critical to keeping us progressing and the situation not stagnating. Whether it’s something as small as the transaction for food delivery or buying toilet paper (good luck) or as larger as a market investment, the exchange is core to our vitality and critical to keep going.
  • Innovation Flourishes: I have been impressed by all the creative ways small business and entrepreneurs are coming up with to adapt very rapidly. Whether it’s now taking a yoga class over Zoom, health system innovations, social distancing festivals and creative delivery options, there is so much innovation that is being developed and will thrive in this situation. There are conversations we have been having about new businesses that we would never have envisioned providing opportunities that otherwise would not have existed. The product manager is me is in full swing. It’s incredibly inspiring.
  • Give Back: Rather than people thinking “what’s in it for me” or “how do I preserve my slice of the pie”, we also observe so many opportunities people and businesses are making to give back to those deeper in need during this time. Through donations, group grocery trips or government support, we are trying to support each other with the capabilities we can provide.
  • Reflect on what really matters: People may also have down time with minimal distractions they otherwise may not have had to take a step back and potentially reassess. Experiences that we previously took for granted now have a whole new appreciation due to scarcity. Whether it’s slowing down for family time or taking time to be creative, I think we will come out of this experience more mindful than we were before. 

I have been pondering how capital markets will be affected by this experience. Traditionally we can speculate that investors will be less likely to liquidate assets to make an investment or that founders will not get the customer revenue they need to get their business off the ground. But I don’t think that is the full picture. I also see an additional dimension beyond economics as an opportunity in the longer term for the community to come together because personal connection is needed now more than ever. Considerations are on what type of business and ideas that can be successful in this environment and where those opportunities are or can exist. These leading edge investments could pay off in the long term if we hit the ground running.  NC’s own Brian Dally writes about how investment crowdfunding is creating its own class of assets not proportional to market volatility. The power of online community is critical and its relevance heightened. The creativity of small and emerging businesses provides an opportunity for long term innovation that can change the world. Individualism, rigidness and independence will be replaced by the new norms of flexibility, adaptability and focus on the collective social.

I hopefully look ahead to see what positives unfold in the situation.  More to come… 


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