We have spoken to several Team Entrepreneurship students and recent graduates who own start-up businesses about their experiences during the coronavirus pandemic. This case study is from Luke Gandolfi, Head of Marketing at FLAVR.
FLAVR is a recipe-based, grocery shopping platform, which innovatively combines the benefits of both conventional online supermarket shopping with meal kit companies (for instance, Hello Fresh or Gousto). Thus, providing an efficient, end to end grocery shopping experience where customers benefit from an abundance of choice, flexibility on commitment, the freedom to try new and exciting meals, all while saving you time and money.
The impact COVID-19 has had on how I run my business
Covid-19 has not had a significant impact on the way we run the
business. For a tech start-up, remote working is familiar. It does not pose
many difficulties, especially when compared to the plethora of other challenges
we face from the economy as a whole. In any case, the team were predisposed to
work in isolation before the presence of Covid-19 (isolation, of course, being
the natural habitat for Tech geeks), which allowed for a swift and smooth
transition to wholly remote working.
That said, albeit not strictly regarding the manner in which we run the
company, the most drastic companywide challenge for us came down to team focus;
and more importantly, where to direct it.
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have assiduously
focused our resources on finding and building solutions that alleviate some of
the most frequently experienced issues within our domain.
For example, the pandemic has resulted in situations whereby most people
want to avoid going to busy supermarkets and waiting in long queues. To address
this, we created a concept which we are incredibly proud of – the ‘Slot Spotter’. The slot spotter allows users to track down online delivery slots
to place orders online conveniently.
Another problem which is frequently faced by customers is the annoyance
when products are out of stock. This is compounded when customers are unaware
beforehand meaning people have to re-plan their weekly shop or meal plans.
To address this, we curated product availability-based recipes; recipes
that consist only of available products, in real-time, at your chosen store.
Due to our ability to collect live data on locally available products, we have
the means to provide a shopping experience that significantly reduces the
chances of having to put up with out of stock items!
To assist customers further, we decided to make our services free during
What I’ve learnt
The following are a few key learnings that have become apparent to me
during this time.
1. Team alignment has become crucial, even more so
than before. In a period when the team cannot meet up face to face and absorb
one another’s energy and excitement the source of motivation must be derived
2. The benefits of a team routine are not trivial.
When the majority of your time spent is in one area, most likely inside, it is
inevitable for routine to slip. The transition from mid-week to weekend becomes
blurred and therefore having a team routine, keeping accountable to one another
is crucial to maintaining healthy headspace and an attempt at normalcy.
3. Another interesting concept I have discovered to
appreciate more is the importance of body language when communicating
effectively in face to face situations. The lack of ability to read peoples
body language due to reliance on video platforms has become noticeable when
participating in meetings and giving presentations (task’s which primarily rely
on reading the room and adapting to the situation and atmosphere of the people
around you). Weight has now shifted onto the interpretation of tonality and
intonations in speech.
4. It is also interesting how the use of technology
has made way for better team democracy. As a start-up company that spans two cities,
it is often the case that the city with more members becomes the centre of our
ecosystem or the ‘hub’. With the use of technology; being no longer bound by
any geographical limitations, we have seen an equal split between the two
How I’m feeling about the future of our business
Whilst this pandemic has caused extensive hardships to families who have
lost loved ones and to the economy, which may well take years to recover. I do
believe the situation has proved to be a significant test to people’s mindsets,
and there are definitely positive aspects to come from it. Individuals who have
and can continue to maintain an optimistic and opportunistic mentality will
At this moment in time, the government and population are focussed on
the considerable changes to the economy, which are unequivocally viewed as
disastrous. The detriment to the economy has been noted as much worse than the
financial crisis of 2007/2008, a period which most people recall as being full of
despair and uncertainty and when nothing positive came about as a result.
However, it is not often considered that there is a contrary
perspective. The crash of 2007/2008 proceeded into a time that gave birth to
some of the most influential and successful companies of this day and age; to
mention but a handful – Airbnb, Uber, WhatsApp, Slack, Square and Groupon.
Opportunities present themselves, especially in time of crisis. Although
these opportunities may be riskier and are often more challenging during a
period of economic downturn and uncertainty, the upside is tenfold. The reality
is, valuable businesses can succeed and prosper through crises.
If we ask ourselves fundamentally, what the purpose of business is, I
would insist that it is merely finding solutions to problems (as trite as that
may be). Therefore, is there ever a more noble time than a crisis to make this
a reality—a time where there are more urgent challenges and demanding problems
to address. This sense of finding problems to solve is certainly what gets us
out of bed in the morning; the opportunity to have a more significant impact on
the world should we succeed.
Visit the website here.