How Brands Weather the Storm
You would be hard pressed to find a business that has not been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially start-up companies. A staggering 74% of start ups have seen their revenues decline since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. With this in mind, there are companies and industries that are weathering the storm better than others.
This week, I spoke with entrepreneurs at three young companies about how their businesses are improvising and adapting during this turbulent moment.
The first entrepreneur I spoke with was Aidan Slack-Watkins, founder of Trade Route. Trade Route is technology company in the logistics industry that has built multiple platforms to help logistics companies automate and build better-connected systems.
Eric: What does Trade Route do?
Aidan: Well overall we are a logistics technology company that provides digital brokerage tools to traditional logistics organizations. We provide tools that automate certain aspects of communication in logistic service procurement.
Eric: So how did Trade Route come about?
Aidan: I founded this company after working in the logistics industry and researching some of the technological innovations that were going on in the logistics space. There is a lot of consolidation and a high barrier to entry in the industry and there are only a couple of large players who are able to invest in technology like autonomous networks.
My vision was to make logistics automation more accessible to small and medium sized businesses.
Eric: How has the logistics industry been affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic?
Aidan: The storm of panic buying back in March caused a bit of a surge across the industry , but since then, a lot of carriers have gone out of business, especially in the US. It hasn’t been as bad here in Canada.
Eric: How has the pandemic affected Trade Route specifically?
Aidan: The pandemic hasn’t affected our business all that much actually. Since February, our focus has been developing our software and COVID-19 hasn’t really stopped us from doing that.
Eric: COVID-19 has made a lot of businesses that did not have an online presence shift to digital very quickly, how has COVID-19 shifted Trade Route to doing more business digitally?
Aidan: That’s and interesting question. It’s gone pretty smoothly so far, I’ve always preferred working from home and was doing that before the pandemic so not much has changed for us in terms of the way we work.
Our focus is developing our tools and using them to help carriers develop better networks. The pandemic hasn’t really inhibited out ability to do that.
The next entrepreneur I spoke with was Ali Malik of Trufan. Trufan is company in the digital marketing space that has developed a platform called SocialRank. SocialRank allows users to identify their most valuable social media followers, analyze insights, and engage with micro-influencers. (add a description of the company)
Eric: What does Trufan do?
Ali: Trufan takes any brand’s, business’s, or individual’s influence online and provide them with insights to help them turn their social media followings into a digital community.
We’ll help people understand things like who is your follower with the most followers or who are you following who has the most influence online.
Eric: What has Trufan done to adapt to the COVID-19 Pandemic?
Ali: Trufan has done a great job adapting to the whole COVID situation. Our team is digitally spaced out across Canada, and also in the US.
Externally, in terms of how the business is functioning, we’ve really made an effort to help other small businesses and that’s how we’ve been adapting. One of the ways we’ve done this is over the past month, we have established a forty-five day trial for small businesses to use our services for free.
The third entrepreneur I spoke with was Thomas Korpach from Golfuture. Golfutre is a technology company that uses their smartphone app to make a traditional game of golf more time efficient, eco-friendly, and accessible to new players.
Eric: Tell me about what Golfuture does and how you got started.
Thomas: Golfutre got started as an idea to bridge traditional golf with entertainment golf,
which is newer and much more casual. We thought there needed to be something in between that was more casual and had a faster playing time than a traditional game of golf, but still appealed to experienced golfers.
We wanted to find a way to play a real game of golf that was shorter to play and more accessible to people. We have spent the last few years developing our software and we recently acquired an existing golf range and Par3 course in Calgary
Eric: So how has Golfuture been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic?
Thomas: Most of the affect has been felt by our brick and mortar location. We had to close the Par3 course as well as the golf range. Fortunately, we were planning to renovate the golf range before COVID, so the range would have been closed anyways.
When the Alberta provincial government allowed Par3 courses to reopen, we moved to online bookings and reopened the course. I think something that was key for us when we reopened was that we had phone numbers and emails for a lot of our members so it was easy for us to let people know that we had moved to online bookings.
What we found when we reopened was that we were booked solid. People were anxious to get out of the house and were excited to get back to golfing and being outside. One of the great things about golf is that it lends itself very well to social distancing.
Eric: What did you learn about entrepreneurship from navigating this business through COVID-19?
Thomas: I think it is important to act quickly. We could have waited too see what would happened, but we started early in preparing for worst case scenarios. That preparation is part of what allowed us to adapt so well to the COVID-19 pandemic.
TradeRoute, Trufan, and Golfutre are three young companies that are weathering the COVID-19 pandemic and growing their business during this time of crisis.
Trade Route was easily able to shift to working from home without disrupting the plans they had made for their business before COVID-19. Trade Route continues to provide valuable tools for carries in a time when logistics and transportation have become front of mind, not only for businesses, but for consumers as well.
Trufan has adapted to the pandemic by focusing on relationships and helping other businesses. Trufan has given more businesses the tools they need to understand their customers and tell their brand’s stories through digital in a time when it is critical for business to make that digital shift.
Golfuture focused on the things they could do while social distancing instead of worrying about the things they could not do. Understanding that their customers were no longer able to play golf in a traditional way, Golfutre made a digital shift by doing online bookings.
These three discussions have certainly shed some light on how resilient these businesses are and how, even in times of crisis, it is still possible to be an entrepreneur.
Eric Sheppard, Social Media Manager