You have not left your apartment since last Wednesday (or was it Tuesday?). Your once vibrant social life has been replaced by the cast of Friends. You are seriously considering starting to run or adopting a dog. Your snack stash is dangerously close to depleting. Bamba is an "essential good", right?
You are better than that. You are going to spare your remaining brain cells and start coronivating (innovating in the age of Corona)!
All of your excuses are gone. You have time and the world has suddenly started spinning at 1000 km/h.
"But wait!" you protest. "The world is headed for a depressing recession, nobody is spending money. This is clearly a terrible time to put my start up idea to action."
Innovation is almost by definition difficult. If what you were doing was easy and obvious, then chances are someone would have already done it. The success of any venture is dependent on the ability to overcome obstacles. But you are an innovator. Now with the deck of cards spread across the floor, you don't see the mess, but rather the opportunity.
In reality, times of crisis are actually ideal for innovation. And as luck would have it, you happen to be in one of the best countries in the world right now to take advantage of all the opportunities (See: Start-Up Nation)."It's not about how hard you get hit, but about how quickly you stand back up."
In times of economic crises companies naturally spend less overall, and many companies don't even survive. But studies have proven that countries which increase innovation spending in times of crises are the ones that come out the other side in the best shape. Many firms in times of crises enter into "survival mode", in which they neglect their R&D budgets in order to scrape by.
A macro example can be illustrated by comparing the stories of two countries – Brazil and Portugal – during the 2008 financial crisis. Portugal was hit especially hard during the crisis, while Brazil was less effected. Portugal was forced to adapt, while Brazil was able to "ride out the storm." As a result, Portugal rose from 39 to 32 in the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) ranking of innovation in 143 countries. During the same period, Brazil dropped from 40 to 61.
Since the days of the 2008 financial crisis, Portugal has (relatively) prospered while Brazil has (relatively) floundered. Why so? Our intuition tells us that in times of crises we enter into "survival mode" in order to preserve what are now scare resources. But the only companies that are playing it conservatively are the companies that are big and privileged enough to know that they can "wait it out", while the companies that needed to innovate in order to survive did so. So, while they may have not invented any game changing product, they were able to focus their efforts on process innovation which gave them a competitive edge after the waves calmed down. (Find out what is in demand, and then supply it)"Coronivation"
There are two types of firms: (1) Those that are constantly innovating, and (2) those that only need to innovate when the rug is pulled out under their feet. In times of crisis, both of those companies will need to continue innovating. Big firms which have dedicated R&D departments will continue investing since innovation expenses are usually "sunk costs", so it makes no sense for them to abandon ship, even when the ship is taking on a little water. And on the other hand, with the world dynamics changing at such a rapid pace, small companies are in prime position to take advantage of the changes and new opportunities.
One example can be seen in the world of dating apps. There are the established apps like Tinder and OkCupid which more or less have continued with their old models, albeit perhaps with more of an emphasis on "non-physical" meetings. But at the same time smaller and more agile entrepreneurs have come up with platforms and models specifically for the "Age of Corona". One such venture is called "Zooming for Love", whose model is specifically adapted to an environment where people can no longer meet up face-to-face for dates. With "Zooming for Love", you first speak without seeing your potential partners, and only after a certain amount of "chats" do you have the option to have a short "virtual" date. Kind of like the Netflix show "Love is Blind". While a chat-based interaction is great for a busy lifestyle, when a large portion of the 20-30-year olds are stuck at home with nothing interesting to say, going straight to voice chats has its advantages.
Another example of a David vs. Goliath moment can be seen in the world of fitness. Aside from mainly cosmetic changes, the business of fitness and gyms has remained relatively unchanged over the past several decades, if not longer. But today that model has collapsed. People can no longer go to the gym or work out with a personal trainer. Their fall has given rise to ventures such as "Fitrip", which allows for trainers for all types of sport or physical activity to enter the living rooms of their clients. Many gyms now have also moved to virtual workouts as a means to survive. Even when it will be safe to go outside again one day, the seismic change will likely still be felt in the world of fitness as people get used to the convenience of working out in the comfort of their living rooms.
One of the main factors in a successful innovative environment are strategic alliances that are formed upon social interaction. So you say to yourself "I am not interacting socially at all, so this is obviously a terrible time to start." I am sorry, but you are mistaken. You are stuck at home, and so are your neighbors, and your former boss, and your children's teachers. They aren't working. They have nothing better to do than listen to your idea and then spend all day thinking about it, because there just isn't a lot to think about right now. This is the perfect time to form strategic relationships with all the people who are usually too "busy" to hear you out.
Many other companies are doing their best to adapt also. Wolt has started leaving the food at the door. Yango has started repurposing their taxis as personal delivery drivers, where you can leave a package outside your door, and within a few minutes someone has picked it up and delivered it
So no more excuses. Get out there and start your drone dog walking business or whatever your idea is today! Stephen moved to Israel 11 years ago on the Na'ale program from Oregon. He recently graduated studying law and accounting at Tel Aviv University and is currently doing his legal internship in the Hi-Tech Department of Yigal Arnon & Co.