Peter Gillingwater explains how Newfound could help your business during COVID-19.
Message from our CEO
Helping you scale in the post-COVID world.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world as we know it. Newfound founder and chief executive Peter Gillingwater assesses the prospects for tech business success - and explains how Newfound’s remote-first services can help.
When Newfound started up in business, our overall mission was clear and ambitious: to help tech scale-ups expand and promote more efficient growth in the wider global economy.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the realities of our world – and we have all had to adjust. So many have seen personal trauma, and we cannot understate the tragedy felt in families and wider communities. It has sometimes felt churlish to consider the prospects for mere business growth.
But the fact is that, if economies are to recover, we need businesses to grow. We also know that innovation in technology is needed now more than at any time in recent history. That’s why at Newfound we are more determined than ever to deliver on our mission. As a team we are as one in our unshakeable belief in the power of tech businesses to create the products and jobs we need.
TECH GROWTH SECTORS
One of the things that's become abundantly clear in the last few months is just how reliant consumers and businesses have become on technology, whether it is in analysing health data, remote working and learning or basic logistics. That fact in itself is a plus.
We have identified the technology business sectors that we think are likely to grow as we emerge from the pandemic. We have clear views about what these are in the short term – and definite trends are emerging.
HealthTech has undoubted high potential, whether it's in telemedicine, remote testing or new ways of looking after patients. Wellness and mental health are two key areas that are experiencing significant growth.
With lock-down, home education is going through a transformation, whether it is in the way kids learn or how they are taught. That’s why education technology is now a big growth sector.
FinTech will also see high growth in certain verticals. Wealth management and consumer finance are two sub-sectors within this that are set for expansion. The same goes for mobile payments, as businesses make an off-to-online shift.
One exciting ecommerce company we work with, Slerp, was already enabling restaurants and retailers to go into on-demand home deliveries. With the pandemic, it has unexpectedly grown exponentially, because high street stores have to do those deliveries to survive. Read more about our work with Slerp here.
On investment, seed and angel money deal flow should continue. There are still angels with money to invest, because SEIS and EIS are still so attractive from an investment perspective. And there are still great companies out there to fund with more likely to emerge from this Covid period.
With VCs there are few problems with liquidity, but they are going to be more cautious, focussing more on existing portfolio companies. It's going to be harder to raise new capital from VCs in the next three to six months at least, unless you're a hyper-growth success story with a good product in today's changed marketplace.
So, while the capital is there, VC deal flow is not going to be anything like it was 12 or even four months ago. That's going to be the case until we have more clarity on markets in general.
Newfound has already been building its services on a foundation of remote-based delivery, so it’s a relatively smooth transition for us to adapt to the current climate and support customers with their ambition to expand.
We are rolling out a new virtual market visit service, offering a remote alternative to established in-person trade missions - and are launching the first two programmes in the coming weeks. Given that people can't or won’t fly for the foreseeable future, but that business must continue, this service offers a pragmatic solution to support continued trade and investment between markets.
This new model will improve the process. People won't need to jump on planes – it's going to be more cost-efficient and the opportunity cost will be removed in time management and a clearer return on investment in terms of capital and time. Our focus is sharply commercial, helping companies set up to sell and grow their revenues more quickly.
We’re supporting companies growing rapidly during this period by quickly mapping multiple markets, so they can make strategic decisions about where to scale to next.
When it comes to putting feet on the ground and the talent side of your business, it is entirely possible to hire remotely without physically meeting someone, provided you have a well-designed, trusted and thoughtful process in place. Our role is to ensure this works and our ability to cross reference and provide expert analysis is key.
Three months ago, I wasn't a huge fan of video in the way I am now - despite the drawbacks of “zoom fatigue” and bad hair days . You can actually go quite deep on a video call. It's just a matter of trusting the tech, meaning you can make decisions without physically meeting someone.
In our sectors, tech and digital, every company was more or less set up for remote working anyway. Now some companies are thinking maybe they don't need a physical office any more or as many desks so remote is here to stay..
At Newfound itself, we’ve become more efficient and more productive remote working compared with commuting and being in an office. Of course it is important to have social and physical contact, but in a different way to before.
FOCUS ON THE FUTURE
One of the big unknowns with the pandemic is when businesses will be allowed to open. We hope for clear leadership that allows some normality back and trust in people to do the right thing.
Some territories will emerge and find trade easier more quickly than others. Borders between countries – such as between Australia and New Zealand – should open sooner than others. Businesses in those places will benefit.
Within businesses, many leaders are showing more humility and humanity than before. They need to do more of this and communicate that clearly. There is a new culture emerging and it promises good outcomes.
It has been an incredibly challenging time for us all, professionally and personally. But we will remain focussed and practical. We must help businesses succeed and support the trade that is essential for economies, no matter where they are. We are determined that Newfound will play a positive part in this drive.
Find out more about how Newfound can help your tech business scale up in the new world.