For Startups, Can Crisis Fuel Opportunity?
Featuring thought leaders from across the innovation economy, Collision from Home took place on June 23-35, 2020. The LIZ was in attendance, and will share some insights and expertise throughout the rest of the summer in a series of blog posts.
By Omar Taleb
“There’s still a lot of money out there,” said Andrew Zimmerman, President of Frog Design, smiling only slightly. If you listened closely, you could almost hear the collective sigh of relief from entrepreneurs all over the world, hanging on to every word.
As uncertainty continues to shadow the economy, businesses have been forced to assess and adjust to the reality of a pandemic-induced recession. ‘Opportunity’ is hardly the word big businesses would use to describe declining revenues, rising unemployment, and a workforce that will most likely be staying home well into the fall.
The mythologized version of the entrepreneur is the scrappy upstart, the young woman or man with the power to see an opportunity where others see none, and the will to create a market others would call non-existent. Most importantly, entrepreneurs can pivot; they will inevitably make mistakes, but it is what they do after that matters. The start of the new decade is proving itself to be one massive learning curve, and so the ability to pivot is becoming even more valuable.
As legal tech entrepreneurs know all too well, law firms can find it quite challenging to integrate new technology into their established systems and processes, due in no small part to it being a conservative and risk-averse profession. Like other businesses, legal tech startups are figuring out how to best continue with their business model in the current climate; the legal tech sector, however, as young as it is, needs to understand that now more than ever flexibility is its greatest asset.
At Collision, one of North America’s largest technology conferences, ‘creativity’ and ‘crisis’ were the two c-words on everybody’s lips.
In an interview with Jade Scipioni (CNBC), Andrew Zimmerman fielded questions on tapping into hidden opportunities presented by the crisis. This magical ability to pivot comes from creativity, explained Zimmerman, and he wasn’t necessarily talking about the kind they teach in business or law school.
“As an entrepreneur, now is a good time if you have a great idea, you will have less competition.”
Entrepreneurs can understand their customers more than big businesses because more likely than not, they are closer to their customers, and spend more time developing that relationship. For entrepreneurs already in the game before the virus shut down the global economy, hesitation on the part of other would-be entrepreneurs means that existing, active startups get to hone in on their current and potential consumers, giving them a window of opportunity to grow.
Assuming, of course, the startup has the right framework for growth.
Factors ranging from sheer size to the number of customers being served can make it more difficult for law firms to deliver specific, personalized services. For legal tech startups, however, undertaking the due diligence needed to ease a user into adopting their platform is a competitive advantage in its own right.
It does not always take a crisis such as this to bring out creative problem-solving skills entrepreneurs need to be successful; where survival may be the goal for some, the strongest startups that will emerge from this will be the ones who buckle down with what they do best, and dare to grow.