An (In-progress) COVID-19 Prep Checklist for Startups
By Micah Rosenbloom, Managing Partner
Covid-19 is top of mind for most people in the startup community this week. Thankfully, full-blown panic hasn’t set in, but founders should prepare so they’re not caught flat-footed.
The following are a list of topics we’re talking to our founders about.
🏠 Get your house in order (and help your employees do the same)
First off, take steps to prepare personally, and encourage your co-workers to do so as well.
Once that’s sorted, here are some more startup-focused thoughts.
🧠 Prepare Mentally
This may become an economic and psychological event. Companies should be prepared for customers and investors to sit on cash during a period of uncertainty. Remember the freeze immediately post 9/11 and the 2008 financial crisis—And if you can’t remember them personally, ask a friendly Gen-Xer.
🔑 Minimizing Key Person Risk
An important question to ask your exec team:
Is there redundancy in who has access to key information, including prosaic details like log-in credentials for various accounts?
One practical suggestion—consider getting hardware keys for 2FA.
🧨 Mitigating Technical Risk
Are your engineering teams cross-trained to cover sustained illnesses?
Has the product team gamed out a scenario where new features have to be balanced against irregular resources?
It’s time to build in redundancy on key systems and staff.
📳 Remote Work Policy
Can all employees work from home?
Can employees set their own schedules or do you expect availability from 9–5?
Have team leads studied up on best practices for remote management?
🎮 Remote Work Infrastructure
Once the decision to enable remote work has been made, you need to consider logistics.
Do all employees have laptops or computers at home? VPNs? Video conferencing tools?
Does your IT team have the right remote management tools?
✈️ Travel Policy
Coinbase was kind enough to open source their COVID-19 planning document which provides an in-depth framework about how to think about travel. Use this as a jumping-off point:
💸 Wrap Up Fundraising
If you are in the midst of fundraising — and need the capital — finish up.
When capital markets get spooked, they don’t slow, they can seize. Better to get the money in the bank than drag the process out for an extra 4–6 weeks hoping for better terms.
🤔 Reconsider Valuation
If you’re raising and have the ability to dictate terms, think carefully about valuation. For instance, will you still be able to grow into an aggressive valuation if the market enters a formal recession and a full recovery is two years away?
Overall, remember that we’re incredibly fortunate to work in this industry. Most startups are able to operate remotely far more effectively than manufacturing/service businesses, nevermind health care providers. The disruption to the day-to-day work should be manageable.
While this kind of planning is inconvenient and uncomfortable, the effort isn’t wasted. A disaster recovery plan is a must for companies at a certain scale. Think of this process as an early investment in the success of your company’s future.
This is far from an exhaustive list of ideas and questions. Beyond these basic steps, what advice do you have? Please reply with any thoughts or resources you have found helpful.
This is far from an exhaustive list of ideas and questions.
Beyond these basic steps, what advice do you have?
Please reply with any thoughts or resources you have found helpful.