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“Adaptation and flexibility will be key to survival”: Small businesses on the effects of COVID-19

Sanchi Illuri

April 3, 2020

In the ever-changing reality of COVID-19, Canadian businesses are adapting to survive. 

 

As the effects of COVID-19 become increasingly clear, many businesses have adopted new ways of conducting their operations. Where possible, offices have moved to remote work, trying their hand at “business-as virtual” (the new “business-as-usual”). Zoom meetings abound, Slack communities are flourishing, and everyone is re-evaluating whether that meeting could have really been an email. The quick embrace of new or under-used technologies has allowed many businesses to keep up their operations, and continue to deliver value to their customers.

Still, many businesses have seen significant drops in revenue, while fixed costs remain. This can be especially difficult for small businesses with fewer capital reserves. While the Export Development Canada (EDC) and Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) are increasing their loans by $10-billion, access to funding is uncertain for many small businesses. 

We sat down with some of the companies in the ventureLAB community to learn more about how COVID-19 is impacting their businesses, and how they’re adapting for success. Rakesh Tiku, President of InField Solutions, says small businesses must find a way to be relevant in this new environment.

The situation accelerates our collective need to evolve our businesses in order to stay relevant.

“What people don’t seem to realize is that this situation will change how people behave and consume going forward. The situation accelerates our collective need to evolve our businesses in order to stay relevant. Frankly, those who resist change may not survive this episode.” In response to the changing realities of COVID-19, InField is adapting their platform to offer personalized health & wellness solutions through which users consult virtually with dieticians, and have tailored meals delivered through their Food iQ App.

TakuLabs Co-Founder Karen Wong agrees: “Adaptation and flexibility will be key to survival.” Already, TakuLabs is helping brick & mortar retailers sell online for shipment, home delivery, or even scheduled storefront pick-up. Compared to existing cloud-only solutions, the TakuLabs team is familiar with the type of inventory management needs of mid-to-larger stores and how to migrate older technology platforms to the cloud. (TakuLabs is currently offering their services at a reduced price to help small business owners survive this difficult period.)

“We need to focus on how to adapt to these changes,” says Concept2Clinic Founder and Managing Director, Y.C. Lee. Concept2Clinic is talking to the Ontario Government about importing more COVID-19 test kits (testing is a crucial strategy in controlling the spread of the virus), and looking for the business opportunities that arise from this new situation.

We’re working on introducing a new solution specific to the COVID-19 era.”

s2h has built a marketplace for the healthcare industry that connects governmental agencies, healthcare providers, suppliers, and distributors. The cloud-based marketplace enables buyers to issue product calls and sellers to publish their approved products. “It’s a reliable platform for the collective combat of COVID-19,” says CEO-Founder Sam Andary. “This marketplace can contribute greatly to flattening the health impact of COVID-19 by streamlining the emergency supply chain of medical supplies and allowing better sharing of crisis resources as demand increases.”

When the new coronavirus began to spread in North America, EAIGLE realized that it’s AI-based platform could be tailored to detect people who may have contracted the virus. “Our team has been working tirelessly to utilize our existing platform to help Canadians in the current crisis,” says Amir Hoss, EAIGLE’s Founder and CEO. “We’re working on introducing a new solution specific to the COVID-19 era for essential service facilities like airports, hospitals, and retail stores.” 

EAIGLE’s solution uses non-intrusive remote body temperature monitoring to process security camera feeds, monitor crowds in real-time, and flag individuals with higher body temperatures. “This technology is more efficient and convenient than existing solutions since it operates without interrupting or slowing visitors’ traffic,” says M. Marsousi, EAIGLE’s Co-Founder and CTO. “It helps large, essential facilities plan their staff and space utilization –  during and after the COVID-19 era.” 

“Companies, like the ones in the ventureLAB startup community, need to be part of the solution. It’s easy for smaller companies to get lost in the crowd and not to be heard.”

Aside from staying nimble, it’s important that companies are involved in government-level discussions, says Audiit CEO Vladimir Urbanovich. “Companies, like the ones in the ventureLAB startup community, need to be part of the solution. It’s easy for smaller companies to get lost in the crowd and not to be heard.” Moreover, Urbanovich says, “it’s important that not only large enterprises benefit from the Government’s stimulus package; small-medium enterprises should benefit as well.”

Ultimately, says InField Solutions’ Rakesh Tiku, those who resist change will always be impacted by change the most. “One thing this situation is giving all of us is time. Figure out what your business needs to thrive in this new era emerging before us.”

 

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ventureLAB is a leading technology hub located in Markham in York Region, Canada’s second-largest tech cluster. Through programs focused on capital, talent, technology, and customers, we’ve supported over 2,000 tech companies and entrepreneurs, including 100 companies that have raised over $100 million and created 3,500 jobs.

During this time, we’re continuing to support growing and scaling tech companies with tailored advisory services, curated partnerships, and other exclusive opportunities. Learn about how we can support your tech business – now and in the future. 

We’re proud to work with the companies mentioned in this article. You can learn more about them below. 

 

Audiit

Audiit helps project management systems work better by effectively tracking and reporting critical changes to project performance and profitability. 

Concept2Clinic

Concept2Clinic is an executive R&D management company specializing in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors. The company provides expert leadership within one cohesive team.

EAIGLE

EAIGLE is an intelligent video analytics platform based on machine learning & AI for water management & sustainable operation in aquatics through real-time occupancy monitoring. 

InField Solutions 

inField Solutions is an integrated workforce automation platform that is digitally transforming old world industries of plumbing and food distribution to enable them to satisfy the demands of Smart Cities.

s2h 

s2h has built a marketplace for the healthcare industry that connects governmental agencies, healthcare providers, suppliers, and distributors.

TakuLabs

TakuLabs is a retail growth management platform for small businesses. Their platform allows you to react quickly to in-store and online market opportunities, all from a single powerful cloud-based application.

 

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