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How Do Startups Survive a Global Pandemic? Ecosystems that Prioritize Partnerships

· Partner,Entrepreneur,Startups

The third quarter of one of the most unexpected and unprecedented years is coming to a close, and Startup of the Year is reflecting on what we’ve learned from startup founders in 2020. How have startups survived? Who has pivoted? How have funding, revenue, and goal setting shifted amidst a global pandemic?

Recently, our Co-Founder and Co-CEO Jen Consalvo chatted with Hello Alice CEO and Co-Founder Carolyn Rodz to compare notes on the past six months across the entrepreneurial landscape. Jen Consalvo recalled:

“There are a lot of startups that were literally about to get a check. What happens when that wire transfer from an investor didn't come through? How do you figure out your path forward? There are so many interesting situations.”

As travel, events, and working spaces shut down mid-March, so too did major decisions such as hiring, scaling, and investment. Startups were in immediate need for cashflow assistance, and the whole world, as Rodz mentioned, “realized how much we rely on small business owners.”

Hello Alice began issuing emergency grants to hundreds of recipients to get them through the immediate crisis. Each grant recipient was notified via a surprise Zoom call from the Hello Alice team.

Both leaders continue to believe that in times of greatest challenge, the best ideas and innovations emerge. At Startup of the Year, we shifted our events online, and we elevated our coaching and guidance resources. As an organization that exists to serve small businesses, we knew that we needed to go into action right away to discover how to reach and assist startups. And we continued to get creative with our vast partnership network to help startup founders get connected to investors or other community resources.

“What I love about the entrepreneurial community is how collaborative it is. Certainly Startup of the Year has been an incredible part of that collaboration. There are so many pieces to building the success of entrepreneurs. No one organization can provide it all.” - Carolyn Rodz

One exciting discovery during this time of semi-quarantine is that we are no longer constrained by location when we seek to serve and connect startups. Where we used to be limited in how we could participate in their growth, we now have an entire digital world to help connect different innovative resources in new ways. And we’re doubling down on bringing our community together to help startups outlast this period in our economy.

Startup of the Year has taken all of our in-person events and taken them online. Starting with SXSW, we quickly pivoted to showcase startups in the virtual world, and provide a platform for startups to pitch to judges and industry experts.

Frank Gruber and Jen Consalvo host an online pitch competition. Screen shot of a zoom call.

Entrepreneurs are facing new challenges and great change, but there remains a continual landscape of hope. We believe these changes are likely to continue to help startups in new ways, creating new synergies that bridge traditional physical locations and hubs and building not only new partnerships but also new ways of partnering. We’re uncovering new gaps in the system all of the time, and quickly adapting to bolster support.

“Having been an entrepreneur for a long time, I know how hard and isolating and how difficult it is. Entrepreneurs need as many resources as possible.” - Jen Consalvo

At Startup of the Year, we’re proud to partner with organizations like Hello Alice, and so many more, because they’re leading the way in connecting startups in their communities to capital, investor networks, publicity, and resources available through our programs. Together, this support, collaboration, and partnership are helping build a stronger ecosystem for diverse startups.

The entrepreneurial spirit and all that it encompasses is deeply moving. After a decade of evaluating thousands of startups, we’ve honed our critical lens to find the best, most diverse companies and founders poised to build incredibly successful businesses. And each year, we celebrate these startups during our annual Summit.

“What Startup of the Year does [is] to get really into weeds and hands on with highlighting these amazing startups that are doing incredible things.” - Carolyn Rodz

We welcome partners to our network who want to support and elevate startups - please join us!

Wherever and whenever possible, discover, promote, foster, connect, build, and/or fund innovation that can change the world for the better. We establish innovative thinking, ideas, and companies wherever we can. - Established mission statement​

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