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    Workstream | 46 min read

    US-APAC VCs & Startups: A Webinar On Adapting to COVID-19

    Last April, Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), MDEC, and Horizon Connect organized a webinar with a panel of distinguished US-APAC investors and founders. Moderated by Cheryl Sew Hoy, Entrepreneur-in-Residence at SVB, the webinar touched on the different adjustments and pivots that startups have been doing to navigate the downturn brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Read on for the full transcript, which includes insights from from all 13 participants, one of whom is Workstream's very own co-founder and CEO, Desmond Lim. 

     

    Cheryl: Great, so I'm getting the cue here on the bottom that we have about 60 people joining from all Southeast Asia (SEA), Australia, and the US, I believe. I wanted to have a warm welcome to everyone, thank you so much to the attendees for joining, good morning for those in SEA and Australia, and good evening for those in the US. And of course, thank you to all our panelists, all 12 of them, who have agreed to graciously spend the evening with us. Without further ado, the context of this panel is around calling a roundtable discussion because they want to hear a bunch of different views from different people in the APAC region and cross-border startups as well about how they're adapting to COVID-19. This global pandemic wasn't expected by anyone, and it has caused a huge wave of changes, not just socially but in business as well. A really interesting lineup that we have tonight to talk about VCs.ebook to improve job posting

    I think Jensen will be helping moderate the Q&As. Feel free to ask questions throughout the round table discussions. We are doing a Q&A in the end, we want this to be a lively discussion so we would take questions along the way so if you have someone on the panel you want to address it to, please note that as well. This roundtable will be recorded, we will send a link to everyone after the session.

    The next slide is an introduction of all the panelists today and I will let everyone introduce themselves for a quick one minute and a brief intro for what they do.

    Janssen: Thanks for coming in everyone. I've been mostly running engineering for the last three companies and start-ups. In between, I've been doing a lot of consulting. In the last couple of consults I've had, one was with Grab, which I'm sure most of you know. Most recently I'm also consulting a little bit for MDEC, the Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation. They take care of everything digital in Malaysia. Everything from the laws to grants, and pretty much everything instead of part of the economy. Happy to help anything that I can help with. Secondly and most relevant to this conversation, I am also a founder from that perspective, and I'm in this position where I'm trying to figure out: do I start going for my next company or go get a job because it's safer? Very interested to see what will happen in this conversation.

    Eddy: Thanks again everyone for joining. I really appreciate it. My name is Eddy Chan, we run Intudo Ventures, Indonesia's only early-stage fund globally. We back headquarter companies founded by Indonesians. For the most part, key companies in our portfolio are (Zended), (Helladog), a lot of category winners in Indonesia. We run a hyper-local operation in the country, everyone on the team is Indonesian outside of myself. We paired that up with 24/7 coverage in Silicon Valley. We're back by about the 25 most prolific VC funds globally. Prior to founding, I have been a founder for many years, and also a venture investor across Silicon Valley for about 20 years, so early on we did Paypal, then certainly in China and then to Indonesia. Thank you.

    Shao-Ning: My name is Shao-Ning, and thanks for having me on the panel. Everybody is a fresh face for me. I was a start-up founder for the last 14 years of my life, and only recently transitioned to become an Angel in the past four to five years. After exiting the business in 2012, I focused a lot on supporting startups in my portfolio life. I realized that beyond concretely helping them, financially I am using my time to bring together a group of Angels who can do it together. I see myself as a node. If I can bring more nodes from SEA, I think I can help using collective resources. Personally, I went through SARS in 2003, and the great financial crisis in 2008. But I think this is the first pandemic that we stop the churches from happening. I think it's a good wake-up call on how the founders could see the situations differently. Hopeful to learn from everybody's insights today.

    Desmond: Hey everyone, Desmond here. I am one of the founders of Workstream. It is an end-to-end hiring software that is built for restaurants, hotels, healthcare companies, and more. I have quite a bit to share today in terms of the impact on some of my clients. I am from Singapore, but I've been based in San Francisco for the past few years. I founded my first business right after high school to pay for college. I founded a Thai food restaurant before I sold it. I then went out to join Merill Lynch and came to the USA in 2013 where I went to MIT and Harvard before moving out to the bay area in 2016 and building my current company. Very glad to talk about everything from start-ups, from this career path, some impact on some of our current clients.

    Geoff: My name is Geoff McQueen, one of the founders and the CEO at Excello, a B2B platform where we run operations for service businesses. COVID's been an interesting impact because almost all of our customers are small businesses, and they have been hit pretty hard by the dramatic shut down of most economies. It has been heartening to be able to help them. We saw our usage go up by 20% of our existing customers in March compared to the prior month. They use our product to run the business. Everyone's been working on how to be a remote team, and now coming to terms with what it means to run my business and understand profitability and utilization and have work getting done. So, it's great to be able to help people in tough times. To give some perspective, we raised $11 million. Last round was a while ago, but that certainly means that if we were going to be going out to try and raise in the traditional sense, things are quite different now. I had a few conversations with friends and peers to get a feel for their market and share their insights as well.

    Lennise: Hey everyone, I'm Lennise, the CEO and co-founder of Dropee.com. We're a SaaS enabled marketplace where we help connect fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands, wholesalers, and distributors directly to the retail customers through a simple B2B ordering platform. I am more than happy to share what's going on across SEA and Malaysia within this industry and space.

    Quan Pham: Hi everyone, my name is Quan Pham, CEO, and founder of Pi.Exchange which is based in Australia. Pi.Exchange is a SaSS platform offering end to end service for AI application development, and operational management. It is a tool for the user to easily and affordably build an AI for business. We focus on simplifying technology and reducing costs to bring a delightful user experience. For our users, you can easily extract predictive insight from the data. I am from Vietnam and have moved to Australia about 20 years ago. I used to work in a number of different kinds of industries. My background was of a subway engineer, cybersecurity consultant, to IT executive positions. I founded Pi.Exchange about 3 years ago, started from Melbourne and expanded to Singapore and Vietnam. We still have a fairly small team at the moment compared to other people here. Really keen to learn from you guys, and maybe some of my experience in dealing with COVID-19. Thank you.

    Ernest: Hi, I'm Ernest, co-founder of Veryfi, and we are based out of Silicon Valley. I'm originally from Sydney, and this is my second company. Veryfi has been around for about 3 years now. Veryfi is a building software for project-based bookkeeping automation. It's been an interesting journey in my Silicon Valley time frame which is about 10 years here. When I first came out to Silicon Valley, I came out during the recession in 2009, which is also during the H1N1 pandemic. I worked for a Unicorn company that acquired us. I've got some interesting stories to talk about that, how they managed through the whole recession and what happened after. From a founder's perspective, I'm very optimistic about what's going to happen when we come out of whatever this is called. I do not want to call this a recession yet, because a recession is typically 2 quarters of negative growth and I don't think we've got the data yet. But it's an interesting time to be running a company. In terms of Veryfi, we are a profitable company, so we do not rely on venture capital anymore to sort of feel the business and we have delayed our Series A fundraising for a number of reasons which I'm sure we can talk about later.

    Binh Tran: Hi, my name is Binh Tran. Good morning and good evening everyone, thank you for hosting this and thanks for having me. I am a general partner for 500 Startups in Vietnam. We are an American fund investing in the growth of SEA, in particular companies with the Vietnam connection. That means we have companies both in North America as well as Vietnam and SEA. We are the first Silicon Valley-based early-stage fund in Vietnam. We have completed over 60 investments; we are the most active investor in Vietnam. Prior to investing, I've been through a couple of down cycles, the dotcom boom as well as the great financial crisis. Through those two times, I was a founder in Silicon Valley, my last company was Cloud, known for the infamous cloud score. I would like to learn from this panel and share some of my thoughts. Thank you.

    Vu Van: Hi everybody, my name is Vu Van, the founder and CEO ElsaSpeak. We are based here in Silicon Valley, and what we do is we build an AI that uses voice recognition technology to help language learners around the world improve their English pronunciation, with the hope that everybody can speak better English and more confidently so that they can get better opportunities in their lives. I started this company about 4 years ago and it was started as my personal challenge as I moved from Vietnam to the US here, where speaking English was a big issue for me in getting the confidence and the opportunities here in the USA. Binh Tran has been among our very first investors and has been a great support for us ever since. [In terms of] the COVID-19, we are very thankful that we are in the luckier position. The impact has been more net positive for us with online learning. We can share more about what it means for us and we are also in the process of doing a fundraising right now for our series B, so we can also share with you the process of what we are going through and what we see right now with the fundraising market right here in the USA. Thank you.

    Andy: Thank you, Cheryl. Good afternoon everybody from California and good morning for those of you who are joining us from the Asia Pacific region. I'm Andy Tsao, the Managing Director here at Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and head of our global gateway business. Thank you for joining us for what is our second Zoom targeting APAC, while representing the 6th in our global gateway series of webinars. In fact, just yesterday morning, we did a session for Australian and Kiwi founders on managing currency risk. First and foremost, I hope that you and your families are safe and healthy and that you're adjusting to life in a shelter in the environment. For me, the boundaries between family and professional life have disappeared, and each day seems to blend into the next. On that front, it's the new normal that kids and dogs often wander into our background, so don't be surprised if that happens today. We are in unprecedented times and there's a lot of uncertainty out there both personally and professionally. The human costs have been terrible and mounting, but the recent data suggests that the shelter in place restrictions are making a difference here in the US. Much of Asia Pacific is in the same lockdown, and encouragingly, some parts of Asia are actually beginning to re-emerge from the shutdowns, giving us some inspiration here that the restrictions could keep the pandemic in check. In SVB, we are open for business and we're here to support our clients in our partners as we go through this crisis together. In the US market, we've announced several programs to support our clients, including processing the US government care and payroll protection program over the last 10 days. For those interested in more information on those programs, I would encourage you to go to our website.

    We've been through multiple cycles through our nearly 40-year history and we have a good understanding of how to navigate downturns. Personally, this is my third at the bank, 2000 Internet bubble, 2008 spurred on from the global financial crisis, and now this one. There are certainly similarities in terms of how the environment seems to change overnight – the anxiety in the sense that the sky was falling. With the benefit of hindsight, of course, the innovation economy was able to not only survive but went on to decades of unprecedented growth. The slide on screen certainly illustrates this point. Yes, there were downturns along the way. but the overall trend for the tech innovation economy has been very much up to the right. These are uncertain times, but we at SVB are optimistic about the future of the innovation economy. Having done business development in Australia and Asia for more than a decade, I'm incredibly optimistic about the medium to long-term features of the APAC innovation economy.

    However, today we find ourselves in the most challenging times as we try to navigate the effects of the pandemic. Difficult decisions will be made in some good companies. At the same time, entrepreneurs deal with uncertainty all the time, and in many respects, are well equipped to handle the adversity. In particular, entrepreneurs from emerging markets where challenges are routine, it often presents a tremendous opportunity if you can solve those challenges. After all, as they say in our business, the best tech companies were built during the most challenging of times. Just look at Google and Amazon from the dotcom bubble and Airbnb and Stripe from 2008. Again, the slide illustrates this point.

    I do not doubt that some of you on the Zoom today would be creating the next generation of great startups in APAC. Let's get the discussion started, and I look forward to hearing the insights and perspectives from the terrific speakers. Thanks to all of you for being part of our program today. Thanks, Cheryl, for pulling this together, and thanks to Janssen and Horizon Connect for being a partner with us. Cheryl over to you.

    Cheryl: Thank you, Andy. I know that Desmond has something to share about how his product is serving customers and what he is observing because he serves a lot of small businesses and restaurants. He has to leave at 6, so I will let him share his views first. Congratulations to him as he just closed a $10 million Series A round. Luckily you did that right before the pandemic, but yeah feel free to kick it off.

    Desmond: Yeah, thank you so much. First of all, I’m going to give a quick shoutout to Binh Tran. He was also one of my early Angels who has been very helpful, so thank you, Binh! So we closed our $10 million Series A late last year. We are actually in a very lucky spot. We were able to get six term sheets in a timeframe of about three and a half weeks. Things went very well, so we picked CRV, CEO for Zoom, COO for Doordash, Jay-Z and more. It was a slightly strong round. I’ve been talking to other founders who are trying to fundraise as well. Should I talk a bit about that first, Cheryl? Or should I talk a bit about restaurant hiring?

    Janssen: And I think i want to add one thing, Desmond, if you can just touch on this. Given that you’ve raised a significant amount of money just before this very big downturn, what is your outlook with regards to how aggressive you’re going to be in this particular period?

    Desmond: Very good points, firstly I will touch a bit on what Cheryl is saying. People are still trying to raise funding, and VCs are still trying to write checks. All that is true. We see the price of the rounds coming down very much, almost a 30 to 40% cut from when it was at its peak prior to the virus, that's something that we see. It is also getting harder for VC and founders to connect, as people are not having to meet face-to-face. They are doing it over zoom. So, when I talk to other founders from a founders' point of view, try to tap upon people that you know, people that you've met in the past. This is because it will be hard to build trust with someone virtually over Zoom, as compared to someone who you have known from the past. That's my first point.

    The second point on whether you should fundraise or not, that's based on how much runway that you have. If you have more than one and a half years of runway, then yes, hold on if you can. But not every company has that choice. If you have less than 12 months runway, then I say, yes, let's try to fundraise. That's the quick answer to some points that were asked.

    The second point as to how am I trying to manage our cash, we are being very prudent. As a team, we have been very prudent from the start, we have always tried to manage our cash flows well. Things haven't changed for us, we are trying to grow, but we are not trying to burn tons of cash in order to grow. What I am trying to say is that we are trying to grow in a way that is prudent. I hope that is helpful. Any other questions on the point about fundraising, happy to touch upon that, or I can go into the trends I see across hiring for restaurants and hotels. Cheryl, should I do that?

    Cheryl: Yeah, please jump into it. I don’t know if you mentioned, but earlier that Workstream helps small businesses hire temporary workers, right?

    Desmond: Yeah, so let me just touch on that a little bit. What we are working on is called Workstream, an end-to-end hiring software built for restaurants, hotels, healthcare companies, and more. Today we have a few hundred brands from Jamba Juice, Subway, The Halal Guys, Westin, Marriott and more. We have a very broad range of clients across various sectors. We have been able to see a lot of really good trends in terms of who is hiring and who is not. I would say that yes, many sectors like restaurants and hotels are not hiring. But there are also some other sectors that are still trying to hire. If you think about healthcare, supermarkets, gas stations, warehouse companies that are trying to hire drivers, those are still hiring and trying to hire more. In the past few weeks, trying to compare April versus February, we have seen 3x growth in terms of job postings for drivers, and 2x growth in job postings for nurses.

    Cheryl: So, net hiring in your platform, hiring has been up, but not down?

    Desmond: I would say it's been flat overall. Many companies are not hiring, but some companies are still hiring and are hiring more. That is one of the trends that we see. Some of these local businesses are booming. There is this supermarket chain that is trying to almost double their crew in these three weeks. It has been hard for them to hire many people. On the other hand, for the restaurants and hotels that are closed, we see that they are really struggling. About 70% are closed, and for those that are opened, they are trying to pivot their current business model. Some of them have gone from B2C to B2B. For example, one of our clients is called Coupa Café based in Palo Alto, with a chain of about 10 stores. They have started to go towards a B2B model, sending food to Stanford Medical Center to about 50 people every day. They have also started to pre-sell gift cards to some of their current base of clients. We surely see a trend, and we see a lot of changes and pivots even amongst some of these local SMEs.

    Cheryl: That's super interesting. I was on a webinar last week and was trying to mention how some start-ups are creatively pivoting their business models to meet the market needs right now. Thanks for sharing that piece, is there any other insight that you wanted to share?

    Desmond: I'm very glad to share more. In terms of some of the trends that we see. Maybe I can share just a few more trends that are relevant to the group here. 

    Cheryl: Yeah, so maybe just a couple more because I know we have so many panelists.

    Desmond: There're a few trends I see, very quickly sharing is that, people are going to work from home more after this whole virus, and businesses are going to cater to their needs, in terms of restaurants and hotels. 

    We also see a trend where there will be many more hourly workers. We see a trend whereby businesses are less open to hiring full-time people right after this. But they all want to hire, they are going to hire more of these hourly folks. 

    So, there are 2 clear trends here, there will be more people who will work from home, and there will be more hourly folks. I think that gives a lot of room for people on this talk to think about some business ideas that we can build to cater to these two groups of people.

    Cheryl: Excellent, thank you so much for sharing, Desmond. I want to jump to Quan for a second, as I know your situation is a bit tougher, where I think you had to do some adjustments to your employee count or let some people go. That's a very interesting and hard decision to make. Would you mind sharing a little bit about that? I think you also had to postpone raising a round because you didn't want to raise on bad terms, and Ernest, you can feel free to chime in as I know you are in a similar situation in postponing your round as well.

    Quan: Thank you, Cheryl, for the question. 

    To give everyone a little bit of background in terms of where we are, of course, compared to the other start-ups in the panel, most of us are young but we probably are in the earlier stage as compared to others. 

    We are also not in the lucky positions where we raised big rounds, we are pretty much still in our early phase, and we still need to generate more protection and raise more money. Obviously, this COVID-19 is an event that is not helpful for us. So, as with what you said, when things happen, we need to take very disciplined and drastic measures to have an appropriate set of actions and to stay ahead of the situation. 

    You are right that when we look into this, we strive to be in the middle where we are going to launch a new set of service offerings especially targeting people, like a set of sales tools for people to work remotely in a collaborative way. 

    We try to balance between the fact that we can't rely on our own blend of talent to meet the demand in terms of marketing and product development. But at the same time, we try as much as possible not to have the effort to get there as well. My kind of work is very similar to other people, but I guess in my case, I have to look at the imbalance between being disciplined on the spending, where we are trying to get help from the outside. In the middle, in Australia, the government has provided a number of support packages. Luckily enough, we were able to draw some of the benefits from there as well. 

    On top of that, the team has been working very hard. They understand the situation. So despite that, we have to cut some contractors and headcount, they are probably not very essential in what we are trying to do as of today. The impact so far is probably not too bad.

    Also for us, the fact that we are well prepared in the work from home situation, our infrastructure and our way of working has been built in to work in this kind of situation for more than a year. We have been very productive. And when this situation happened, we were well prepared. This isn't like other companies where they have to do a lot of transitions to prepare their employees, we are nimble and can switch things very quickly. That has been a good thing for us and cutting some of our head counts, while it is hurtful, it is probably not impacting as much as it should be.

    Cheryl: Do you mind sharing how much you cut?

    Quan: Percentage-wise, we reduced the headcount by 10%, targeted mostly contractors or people that provide non-essentials or non-core-product development. We are looking at web development for example. On top of that, for the management, we are looking at other financial measures like salary deferment as well as accepting a small cut of the salary, just to make sure that we can move through this one.

    The other thing that I would add in, is that on top of that outcry, we are looking at other partnerships with Google, to provide some assistance in terms of infrastructure. It helped us to make some good decisions around the cost-cutting measures that we have to avoid.

    Janssen: Interesting. If you don't mind sharing, is 10% enough? What is your outlook like?

    Quan: To be frank, this whole thing, some people say it is going to last for 12 months, some people say it will last one and a half years. Typically, we try to survive as long as we can. Everyone says that.

    Whether or not 10% is enough, I, to be frank, don't know. What I am trying to do right now is trying to boost the limit as much as we can, to the point where we can still do the minimum things, but at the same time being as disciplined as possible in terms of spending. 

    In a way, I am a fairly optimistic guy, and I think there is still a good chance where we still can generate some traction and growth amidst this situation. Because, the area and the market around the stuff that we do, still generates quite a few of interest, even between B2C and B2B markets. 

    So personally, I think that what we can do is to be sensible for the current situation. We will look at reviews every two weeks and be on top of the situation. We will try to do the sensible thing and keep a close eye on the recent development.

    Cheryl: I heard that some companies don't have as many contractors to cut off because they're at series A or B. What they do to try to prevent layoffs, is to move everyone to a 4-day week kind of schedule, so they're working less, and their salaries are cut accordingly. This kind of one strategy, just to share, that you can apply if you are in that situation.

    Ernest: I should just add another strategy. I think Quan mentioned briefly. Obviously all start-ups are expensive, but reach out to any single partner like AWS or Google for web posting and ask them if they have got any program to help us or if they gave discounts. They do give discounts. I've managed to get discounts from Intercom. There's a bunch of other companies, e.g. AWS. Just reach out to them. There's a lot of start-ups doing that, there's a lot of discussion around that in Silicon Valley. Maybe it's more around our community, but you can reach out to AWS, Google, Intercom, if you use it for communicating with your clients. Google Apps, and ask them for a discount, and they would be more than happy to give it to you. 

    If you don't, you will never get it, so it's better to ask. And I think everyone understands the situation every start-up is in, and a lot of the large companies understand that start-ups are the seeds of the future of some large company. If I don't help the start-ups today, these companies might not exist in the future and therefore their revenue might also be impacted. They look at it as a future investment by giving you a discount. Every start-up should do this straight away

    Quan: I agree with you. I think the key point is that asking for help, or rather not being afraid to ask for help and asking everyone, in this situation, especially when you are a young and small company, there is no shame to seek help. 

    I tried to do that in a holistic way. It is not just looking at the salary aspect, even though it is a big expense item. But we try to look at it in a very holistic way, where we talk to the government, or the landlord to negotiate the rent, where they are very open for that conversation. Even though we are in the middle of the contract, there are no terms or conditions to allow us to do so, but we build on that conversation and they are very open to consider that kind of thing. 

    At the end of the day, to touch on the point of fundraising, of course, I agree that in this period of time, if we can live with our runway and cash to survive, there is no point to go out and raise. But if you have to do so, because of whatever situation that you are in, I think the sensible way is to try to look at raising from the home office or highly-networked individuals. For example, we have some delight from the previous round, where people would say that the market crash, the liquidity has dried up, and we have to be in light of things. But having a conversation gives us good visibility on what will be coming and helps us to build a pipeline of activities and plan it accordingly. 

    So, I think there are ups and downs, and there will be some hiccups along the way. So far, we managed quite alright. I think we are in a fairly good position. If we were to look at the government, they do offer a lot of help and loans as well. I think in the US there are similar things, but in Australia, they do buy up some unsecured loans for start-ups, and now they are looking at some special support for deep tech stuff, for example, machine learning and nanotechnology.

    Janssen: Speaking of financing and additional financing, as VCs and investors, can you tell us where you would double down. Obviously, all profitable companies need to be rationalized. But what about companies that you're seeing that you are thinking of putting more money into it? Are there companies that make sense?

    Quan: I can’t really comment about a particular company. I think we talk about sectors or markets…

    Binh: I think they’re talking about the VCs.

    Quan: Oh sorry, my bad.

    Binh: This "the great reset", as some people call it, is definitely interesting. When I went out to raise capital during the great financial crisis, we started to raise capital four months after Lehman Brothers. It took us almost two years raised by seed round, and we ended up with the seed round of maybe 40 investors. We were taking checks as low as $5000 just trying to scrape any money we could. Slightly different now I think. There's a lot of investors out with a lot of dry capital. Past few years, we've seen a record number of funds and a record amount of capital being raised. For those who don't know venture, it's a 10-year vehicle with maybe 2 or 3 years of deployment periods. So, you're on contract to actually deploy the capital. I think there's a lot of appetite for deals now, there are certain sectors that are going to be obviously really strong.

    Cheryl: Can you expand on that? That's a very popular question. A lot of people are really interested to know from an investor's perspective. What sectors do you see booming and being able to take advantage of this situation? And there are a lot of questions around the travel and retail industry, about how are investors thinking about that? Would you just not invest in those sectors right now?

    Binh: I think as investors, you find yourself in certain buckets. At 500 Stars, we completed a survey of investors about 140 respondents. The majority like 83% said they are going to be affected by COVID. Those buckets are either you're too busy with your portfolio companies, trying to provide support and your constituents like your LP's and so you're not deploying capital, or you're sitting around observing, you're not deploying capital. Or you are deploying as you would, maybe with different level scrutiny, maybe focus on certain sectors. At 500 Stars we are continuing to deploy capital, but for us, I like to look at it as what hasn't changed in the world? And since we're long-term investors we always think about like, five years from now, what's that market look like? What hasn't changed? Probably travel, not really now. You still need to eat, buy clothes, use the internet. It's almost like looking at it from a hierarchy of needs, and it really boils down to where areas are growing. There are also companies that are going to kneecap when it comes to valuations and there are opportunities there as well. I think there are clear sectors out there that really are going to be hurting, travel is definitely one of them, and tourism.

    Shao-Ning: I will share that on my personal portfolio site, I have 28 companies that we personally invested in. We did an exercise about two weeks back.

    Cheryl: Shao-Ning, do you invest in mainly SEA or US companies or both?

    Shao-Ning: I think out of my 28 companies, the furthest I have invested, one in Helsinki and one in Kazakhstan. But these 2 subsequently gave me a lot of tax issues, so, for now, my strategy will be SEA. Out of the 28 companies, I would say that about…So we categories them into 3 groups, and one group is doing very well because of the environment that we are in. One group that we expect to drop between 25 to 50%. The last group that is more than 50% affected. 

    Out of the 28 companies, six are in the first group that are doing really well because of the environment that they are in. For the second group that is being affected, we had a one-on-one call with them to see how they could manage finance and how they extend their runway. The last one is really asking them to give us scenarios that you're going to see zero revenue for 6 to 12 months, and what's going to happen? We went through the exercise and got everybody to think about that. 

    To echo Desmond's sharing, I used to run a job portal, and the job portal strategy basically is where your paid masters are the HR people. During the downturn, you are still doing the same business, but you have to change your focus and be a lot more tactical. So, I think that thinking should apply to almost all startups and all founders: how can I extend my runway by finding extra revenue?

    One of my mindsets is slightly different from most start-ups nowadays. The background is that I've never raised funds for my start-up. Hence, because of that, I had the leeway, the freedom, to really structure the business the way that we did it. We have 4 co-founders, and between 4 of us, we came up with $18,000 back in 2000 to start it this way. So, the thinking very much is how can you last beyond the recession. I remember during the SARS days, it was really scary because sales dropped to 0, customers were not even seeing us. After that, we changed our focus to focus on job seekers: how can we provide services for them? We can't make a lot, but the goal is to make sure that it at least covered the rent. We can't even cover the salaries, but at least cover the rent and making sure that we continue to keep the morale of the staff high. Of course, on the costs side, I think someone was sharing about cost management. What I did then was to come up with a scheme to shave off 20% across the board because I didn't want to lose the good people we had then, but we need to really bring down the costs. So, we had to bring it down 20 to 30%, and it's through the staff' commitment that we will push this through. 

    One key thing that I realized is that banks will help now, and to jump back into my investor's head right now, I would say that of my third category of companies they are not going to have revenue for the next couple of months, I will take is we will support them provided that they have shown good traction in the previous 5 to 6 months and that they actually have good strategies to go into the new market again.

    I think the new normal is something that we don't really know what it looks like. Everybody is talking about the new normal as if we know. The fact is that your plans are actually built based on the previous 6 months which are not normal anymore. Honestly, my worry goes up if the founders are still insisting on the original plan. Right now, [it is important] to relook at the plan: how can you adapt to a new normal which we still don't know what it looks like yet. So, you need to be a lot more flexible and a lot more willing to experiment. And you have to make very quick decisions.

    Ernest: I would like to echo some of what you said. I think the new normal is basically basic business fundamentals. It's one of the shocks that I got when I came to Silicon Valley in 2009 – very naïve, didn't know much about the whole Silicon Valley thing, where companies were raising money on ideas back then. Thinking about profitability which are basic business fundamentals later on as if that always happens, but it doesn't. Because that's great when the market is going up, but it's not great when it's going down. Because then you don't have any revenues and then you're scrambling left, right and center trying to work things out. And as you pointed out, in business you need to be always on the ball, and you need to be thinking about multiple opportunities that are coming along the way. I know it's traditional in Silicon Valley to say to focus on one thing, while that's great when the market is going up, it's not great now. That one thing you might have been focused on is not going to work anymore. You need to look at multiple sources of revenue. Maybe there's a way that you can reskin your product. Maybe there's another channel that you could sell-through. It's just so strange for me

    Cheryl: Is there a concern in that strategy, because I'm hearing start-ups doing that too, figuring out multiple revenue streams, while typically the mantra is to focus on one or two things and do it well? And then now we were asked to do a different strategy, is that confusing or is that helpful?

    Ernest: It's basic business fundamental. 

    A little bit of context, back in Australia when I am doing my computer science degree, I started working for AMP Limited, Australia's largest financial services company. I didn't understand the business, and one thing I realized is I needed to understand business. When I did my MBA, in Silicon Valley no one likes MBAs. But for me, it was fantastic. It gave me a very horizontal view across the different verticals and really understand some of the depth especially around technology. So, my mindset from that point onwards was always different. I always thought about basic business fundamentals which is why I got a shock in 2009 that in Silicon Valley things run differently. To me, it feels like learning everything from scratch again. But when you look at most businesses out there, let's take an example, GM has refurbished some of its factories and built ventilators. You are hearing large companies out there, there are case studies at the moment, of large companies that are changing some of those processes, reusing existing systems in order to service the existing market. Businesses have always been doing that. I think in the start-up land, we've been focused, and everything's been going right for the last few years. And now, a lot of us are getting a shock, like "wow what do we do?" Well, back to basic business fundamentals. Those things will keep you going through the ups and through the downs.

    I am not saying you should be doing multiple things at once and be scattered. Let me just give you an example. We've built a project-based bookkeeping solution for Veryfi over the last few years. We've built up these APIs which today, we sell to enterprise firms. And now our demand for automation has picked up because people at home, no one's doing data entry at home, but you can use APIs, machines to automate. Companies are looking at cutting costs and then they have to move towards automation. So, because we've got two product lines, with one source of development going on supporting both products, we're not scattered, we're still developing the same system but now we're selling one to small-medium businesses, and then want to enterprise companies. Obviously, there are differences and nuances between them, but it's not that dramatic. But I believe that you can pick up any technology product and reshape it, remolded just like bread in the way that you can serve one group of people and then also another group of people in a slightly different way.

    Janssen: From an investor's standpoint, is the power-law still going to be effective or applicable in this scenario? Is it something that would work? Obviously, you know like power-law doesn't really work necessarily given if you're trying to have multiple streams of revenue, so I'm trying to give you a counter. 

    But given that startups and investment returns have always been based on returns, in the end. In most cases we've seen, power-law really wins. I mean is it still applicable now, and if you are a start-up that is not on that route, does it still make sense to continue? As much as survival is one thing, and I think that survival's important, what should you do? Does it work? Should start-up continue?

    Geoff: I think my perception, from talking with investors and thinking about how we approach market dynamics, is that the power-law still applies. But there was this kind of disconnection from reality for quite some time over the last decade, where the power-law was being pursued without any interesting economics and was in effect stealing from the future even when we saw it most prominently with the vision fund where it was like capitalized competitive advantage. It has been interesting to see the experiment play out. COVID's probably going to concentrate the minds particularly for the sectors that are impaired. 

    I think for most of the tech industry if you take a long term view, 5 plus years, on what's going to change, this period is probably going to be a net positive for our industry because we are able to help people to do more to operate remotely in many ways. I don't think the power-law dimension necessarily changes but it does mean that you're not necessarily going to be in a fight to be number one, where most of the benefits accrue to number one against three or four other folks that have got really messed up unit economics and really messed up go to market strategy. They are just continually borrowing in a different form. I mean if you look at the liquidity preference stack up as folks do crazier deals for bigger valuations, that's great. But you just got this stack sitting over the top constantly layer upon layer. 

    So, I think the fundamentals are not going to the change, but it's going to require those sorts of power-law network effect, where it is really the technology-enabled innovation that has the great gross margins where that industry has been able to create returns from, or is it actually just the same thing but wolf in sheep's clothing or even worst, a bit of the hollowed situation where people are talking about revenue but all that they have really been doing is taking thousands of dollars and taking that $100 worth of growth and cheerleading that $100 even though it's not really a solid business.

    Cheryl: While we have you on, I was curious since you are leading the Aussie Founders' network, I'm curious from that perspective. Obviously, a lot of AFN members are Australians looking to expand to the US market. Are you seeing and hearing that things are changing there, are people holding back plans to expand into the US or continuing their plans?

    Ernest: There is a huge amount of uncertainty, as we are only 4 to 5 weeks into this thing. I think most folks are still trying to work out which way is up. Certainly, if you are thinking about expanding into the US, now is not a great time because you can't legally get in the country, and if you do have a green card or some other method to get in, then you're in a quarantine situation. If you're trying to raise capital and you haven't already got existing relationships with VCs, it's going to be really hard to get a deal done. I think someone else mentioned earlier, if we are 5 weeks in, the first three weeks are VCs ignoring everything new, and just looking at the survivor profile of the portfolio. Breaking into the need to raise in 3, 4, or even later than 12 months. And then what happens to their top line? 

    If they are a technology for the travel industry or events, then they're looking at catastrophic 80 to 90% reductions. If they are not, they might likely be seeing 5 to 10% reductions in the top line. The few that are benefiting because they are able to help in a difficult time in a way isn't just a goodwill help but helps their business grow as well. 

    So, the focus on the survival of their portfolio means they weren't interested in a new deal no matter what, and throwing out such a strong factor is just a back-rate really. Which VC is really worried about right now is beating them to a deal or a close? Nobody, like it's not a factor. It's going to be that absence of FOMO, combined with probably a lot of desperate folks that just assume they could keep turning $1,000 into $100 that will keep getting funded by somebody else, is going to lead to you know some very depressed valuations and tighter terms. And there is probably going to be a little bit of stuff going out there as well, where things get squeezed down, and you compressed. 

    Generally speaking, I think it was good advice towards the top of this call like if you don't need to raise in 6 months, then don't. And relating to going to market in the US market, for example, a lot of folks that I help and advice, if you are prepared to set your alarm early, then you are not in any disadvantage now selling from the other side of the dateline to someone in New York. Because anyone that they're going to be communicating with to try and buy from are going to be on the Zoom call anyway. 

    The time zones kind of flattens the world out pretty significantly during this period. So, I just suggest sitting tight, focusing on product-market fit, trying to diversify your income sources in some respects, but I would challenge it a little bit. I wouldn't try to become something that you're absolutely not, in some form of desperate thrashing around if you can survive through it right through by doing some of the other great advice on this call, in terms of cutting your overheads. 

    Instead, just double down on product-market fit and where. Actually, in our business, we're kicking off some stuff that's intended internally but I think it'll have some pretty good external marketing benefits for us the long term.

    Our customers, just like you guys, aren't commuting anymore. So, we admittedly, per Andy's comments at the top, we have dogs barking in the background and kids running in, needing a diaper change. It is more distracted, but we actually have more time. We're going to be spending some time, fireside chat style, with a dozen or more of our clients with all of our engineers and all of our go-to-market team in attendance, something that we've known we wanted to do for a really long time to help nail a deeper understanding across the organization about what we do to help run a professional service business and what a day in their life looks like. Well, they have time on Friday afternoons now, where they are not doing a commute or thinking about going on a vacation or having to trudge through TSA or an airport because they're not traveling. So, maybe there's some silver lining here to be had where it's about focusing on product-market fit, focusing on that user and that customer and taking advantage of the forced isolation. 

    Now if you look at the history of some great technology, why did so many of them come from really far, northern, cold climates? There is an argument to be said where it's because it is miserable to go outside there for a lot of the year, and it's a productivity boost. And in a sense, we've all kind of had that forced upon us now. So, we're lucky that we can.

    Cheryl: I want to switch back to Lennise and Vu actually because I know you both are fundraising right now, right in the middle of closing. Some people are lucky to have closed a round, or can postpone a round as they have yet to start. But what are you guys basing on since you are in the middle of it? Have you had to change your strategy where you change your plan based on the situation?

    Lennise: I could take that first. What we notice when we are raising a round at this stage is that we noticed that we tend to attract more Angel investors rather than VCs. I think VCs right now understandably are more cautious in terms of what and who they are investing in.

    Of course, they're trying to save their existing portfolio first if they can. Hence, if they were to look into new deals, that's probably not something that they are prioritizing right now. 

    We just graduated from Y combinator, the recent winter 2020 batch, and we saw that it was the first time ever that they did an online demo day. It was a completely different experience, everything's on Zoom, and I would say that like, of course, the whole FOMO and face-to-face experience it's not available, we can't have that same experience in comparison to having an offline demo day. I mean we are closing a round right now. In comparison to other founders as well throughout the batch, like my batchmates, I think we are lucky we're able to do so. I think one of the biggest and best ways of helping each other, like startups helping among us, is that if you know anyone else who is raising, just help them out. Maybe do some good introductions to whoever they can speak to. They probably have spoken with VCs who are interested to invest in this or have the ability to filter them better, so these start-ups won't waste your time talking to investors that are not ready to invest in them at this stage at this moment.

    Cheryl: So, your valuation was not affected? Do you think it's because you had started before, and if you had started later, would that might be affected?

    Lennise: I guess it depends on the founders and the business models. This is a very tricky thing to talk about. It is a willing buyer willing seller kind of thing. 

    If you're able to convince investors that your company is valuable and there is positive growth amidst this whole COVID experience, I think that's best. I would like to echo off what Geoff was saying, product-market fit. This is something that at YC we always talk about: build something people want. During this whole COVID experience, what the whole world is facing is a shift of what people are investing in, or what people actually want. There's a whole lot of other new products that you can create in order to still sustain your business or even keep that growth number up. So, as a founder just experiment more, build more MVPs, talk to your customers, be in touch and go back to the grassroots, and really understand what's going on within each and every one of your industries.

    Ernest: Funny story is that there's a lot of stuff you read about YC online, and there are people talking negatively about YC, and YC is all about business fundamentals. 

    There is always some sort of growth or some sort of revenue figure that you want to speak to. And those are your business fundamentals, and YC pushes you towards that. I do not want to sound like I am waving the YC flag, but YC obviously carries a lot of weight, the brand equity. So, when you are a start-up after you've graduated and you go to VC, YC is down that filtering, that level of due diligence. 

    And it's very hard to get into YC, I think it is a 2% acceptance rate which is harder than Stanford University. That already gives you credibility as a start-up. So, if you're an early stage start-up and you're thinking about should I do YC? Do it. Reach out to the alumni network, read the stuff online. That's the other part, where the network is really strong, that's one thing that I've seen a lot of different accelerated strategies replicate from YC: it's the people and it's the trust. I mean the best way I want to summarize is that the first rule about YC is to never talk about YC. It's like a fight club, it's a very tight community.

    Cheryl: Thank you. I wanted to make sure Vu had a chance to speak and Tiger from the founders' perspective because we can see from the Indonesian VC perspective.

    Vu: We definitely are in the process of fundraising for our Series B right now. The reason we decided to do so even though we still have about 14 months of runway, is that we already have some of this conversation started. 

    For us, I think it's a matter of some of the investors that we have the relationship work and we know them before, and also in our current stage, it is all about the numbers. Given that we feel like there's a chance for us to raise an instead of waiting for later because we don't know how long this recession is going to last – it could be towards the end of the year, and it is going to be even worse than now. By then, we're going to cut closer to the end of our runway, versus now where we still have about 14 months, so it's a lot less stressful to raise now. That's why we decided that why not we can raise now, and we should go and raise it. 

    What we have seen is that definitely the conversation moves very fast and VCs are very efficient, because they don't want to waste our time in these COVID-19 challenges. If they want it, they are very transparent, if they're not investing, they will tell you they are not investing right now. For those who are actively investing, they move even faster than what I usually see from previous conversations.

    But what I think, from all the other founders that are raising, from what we see is that investors will be doing a lot more diligence on the numbers than what they usually would have done under normal situations. They might say: "Hey, all of your numbers, unit economics have to be a lot more solid than it would usually require." So, lots of numbers back and forth, due diligence that we see, at least here in the Bay Area, compared to previously. So, for founders who are ready to raise, definitely put a lot more numbers in your data room than what you would usually do, because that will make your process go a lot faster and more efficient. I think what Ernest said, is a network of founders helping founders. Figure out who in your network is raising and share the notes for example if a VC is definitely not actively investing, they are going to share that with you so that you don't have to waste your time going through that. We do a lot of those notes changing and say: "Hey, we talked to that VC and yes, they're going to go through the process", or they say "Hey, let's wait until the fall so that things get better". 

    These are some of the insider information that you want to get with your founders, because then you don't have to go through that process for 2 weeks just to know that they're not going to invest in you, not because of your performance, but because that the fund is a little bit more holding back right now. I think those are the few things that we do. 

    For founders who have closed, at least our stage, we do hear that the valuation does go down about 10 to 20% compared to what they would have wanted at the beginning. That's for the founders to make the decision, if you want to raise now, are you OK with that 20% down valuation, versus you wait for six more months. 

    There's no guarantee that the six-more-months situation is going to get better because nobody can predict this recession, so it could be in 6 more months, valuation is going to go down further because escalations get tougher. That's a tough call which I don't think anybody can give you advice right now, I don't think even the VC can tell you. 

    You just have to make the decision of whether you want that route currently or not, or if you want to wait. I think if you have 18 months, I think that's a lot safer. Ending anywhere less than 18 months is probably cutting a little closer, and so you're going to have to make the decision right now. But valuation in the short term, to be honest, is not going to be the top worries that you have. I think if you continue to do well, a 10 to 20% right now is not going to make you look back in the future. Given all of that information, we decided that it is not a bad time to raise, and I think the process hasn't been as bad as we have thought to go in.

    Cheryl: That's really cool, thank you for sharing. I guess we can take maybe the last 10 minutes to chat about Indonesia, between Eddy and Tiger, being the largest market in SEA. Feel free to share any perspectives, with no specific questions, from the Indonesia side.

    Tiger: Hey guys, just a quick introduction, we're cargo, a series A stage, trucking, logistic marketplace, sort of like Uber freight in the US or FTA in China. We are very lucky to have raised a round right before everything went sideways. 

    I think for a lot of you guys, having a lot of capital in your balance sheet, it is super important. We are very lucky that all of us can work from home. But that is not true for 99% of the world out there. Our truckers, those guys in the field, they have to still be out there. This has been a clarifying process for us to our mission. We used to do a lot of things, like what Ernest said, to diversify our revenue base, but we dropped a lot of our side projects. Almost every other thing, and we have been focused on our core delivery business. And we focus everybody to now go and find critical suppliers of goods and are importing masks and ventilators from China to Indonesia because this is first and foremost a humanitarian social crisis. 

    There are administrations around the world talking about re-opening borders and restarting the economy based on points of doubt. We have to focus on making sure that countries, especially developing countries, survive through this humanitarian crisis. Our cargoes in our whole company right now are just focused on making sure that we can deliver these critical items throughout Indonesia. That's been a big focus for us. We have been really lucky to do that, we have raised money, we can work from home. 

    Every time I talk to Eddy, who I love to hear from, I am asking him for more money. This is the first time I am sharing a conversation with him that is outside of that. 

    But I think just making sure that the country survives is much more important to us. If everybody is dead, there is no way for economic recovery. We see the fundraising environment just completely flipped overnight, we had an oversubscribed A round, and because of this crisis, we went back to the market saying "Hey guys, I know we couldn't let you in", or we have to really cut down your allocation. But we are taking all the money we can, with the same valuation.

    We just see a complete 180 from guys that have a lot of cash on their balance sheet, and a lot of dry powder. One of the things we are doing is having the conversations again, and really pulling out all the metrics and data, as some of you guys suggested, and it really is about unit economics these days. And when we are showing positive unit economics, people are still afraid to pull the trigger. What we are focused on are the one or two guys who really have conviction in your mission, in your team, and we got them to commit. We said, "Hey look, we are leading an extension no matter what, and you come in if you believe in this mission." 

    When all of these cuts through all of the BS that happens from fundraising, the people who support you will come through. We are very lucky to have Eddy on our side, to be able to lead the lobby conversations. So, Eddy can you give us more money, please? Thanks!

    Cheryl: So, Eddy decided to invest in your start-up with the same valuation. As an extension, have you then declined start-ups that have come back to you?

    Eddy: We have been really fortunate. A lot of our businesses, granted we started a little bit later, we run a pretty concentrated portfolio. We do about a deal a quarter, so it is business as usual. Our total portfolio is 19 companies, and every single one sits in Indonesia.

    We visit them every week historically, and now we just do it through Zoom. In terms of my companies, it is not that they're good, in part, a lot of it is luck. A lot of our companies just happened to be on the right raise cycle, raised capital calls in the second half of last year or first quarter in this year. I like to say for every business model, if you will, business say in Indonesia, there are maybe 3 to 5 legitimate companies that you respect, maybe the US you have called 30 to 50, or in China 30 to 50.

    If your competitor just happened to be on the wrong cycle, not in the market at the right time, it is like Michael Jordan getting injured in game 7 of the NBA finals in the first quarter. You just happened to be on the right cycle, you are going out to a market where, frankly SEA and Indonesia in particular, you have not seen a down cycle for Venture, where we only started in 2012. Only 1 direction where investors historically will sit in Singapore and fly to the southern countries, which was a necessity in 2014. 

    But a couple years into the ecosystem realized that the only market that really matters is SEA, to build a venture scale of more business at least for consumers in Indonesia, given that it represents 45% of the population, 45% of the GMV. 

    Otherwise, you have got to piece to four or five independent countries. For us, we have not said no to any of our companies in terms of those that came back. That said, most of them raised calls in the second half of last year or the first quarter of this year. From a couch position perspective, you will have capital till the end of next year or longer, and in Tiger's case, it is certainly several years. 

    I think we are instructing a lot of our companies to be a little bit more offensive in this situation. If there are only three to five legit companies, if we are one of the two well-capitalized companies, and this is not just a pandemic, I think this is a function. 

    We started seeing this Q3 and Q4 last year post WeWork. Historically, investors invested like with fear and greed, and I did that myself in 2008. But one thing that my partners and I promised ourselves is that we will invest in real business. Our public PR for the last three years is profitability. 

    20% of our companies are net income positive, and the ones that aren't, if you pull out marketing, for the most part, they are profitable. At least for our firm it’s quite different, we are quite lucky. We run multiple analyses and metrics, let's say revenue goes down to zero, goes down by 15% or 25%, ops, ads and in marketing. The way I like to think about it is every one of our companies, we zeroed out their revenue, and for the most part, as long as that can take them 15 months, if we make a net revenue exercise, in many cases we have two, three, and in some cases four years of cash. 

    We are playing a little bit of offense in this environment where the competitors are on the wrong side of the market, so there are a lot of unique opportunities for consolidation where you can pick up companies for cheap, for stock deals. Or just pick up their employees or customers. So far so good.

    Cheryl: In SVB, we get a lot of data on start-ups as we bank more than half of the venture-backed start-ups in the US and certainly from global gateway. A ton of global cross border companies too. 

    Even from the end of last year, one of the trends we are seeing is that a lot of the funds and VCs are telling their founders to raise money last year, in terms of how they are predicting without the pandemic. 

    In 2020, funding will significantly shrink anyway, it is funny that this pandemic has accelerated that 10x. Another trend that we saw in SVB is a bigger gap happening between first-time founders and repeat founders getting first meetings with the VCs that were already happening throughout last year. 

    With the pandemic, again the 10x, if you are the first-time founders, it is harder to get that first introduction to the VCs, unless you have been introduced by a founder friend. 

    There are three minutes left, I want to open up to the panelist, in terms of what behavior do you think will persist post-pandemic, and will it be the new normal? I know it is hard to predict, but it is a fun question. What social trends of even business trends being the future? Someone mentioned work from home as one.

    Binh: We have over 60 companies in our portfolio and the ones that are winning focus on coffee, e-commerce, social gaming, remote engineering, companies that are pivoting to a touchless society, and therapy.

    Ernest: I definitely want handshakes to go away. I think we spread too many viruses through shaking, I much prefer maybe the Spork way of hello, or the Japanese way of bowing. I like that it is respectful. But I think that handshaking is just an old school from medieval days when we show that we don't have any tools to kill each other.

    Cheryl: But in the US, you also hug each other, which is also more… Or is that in Europe?

    Ernest: I think the Italians do the most hugging, a lot of the Europeans. I hope more businesses start thinking about going back to business fundamentals as well. I think that is going to be important. We can always be optimistic, but we can't always have an environment where everything is trending up. 

    We are going to see that quite a lot, and we have been seeing a lot of that over the last few years. Going back to business fundamentals, so more businesses can survive, and maybe people who want to become a founder will stop and think about what it actually means to be a founder. Is it because now I call myself an entrepreneur, or is it because I am going to run a business and make a difference, and add value to shareholders and so forth? 

    I really hope that will change as well, as I feel like in the last few years there have been way too many people jumping into the whole start-up game because they want the fancy title. It is not about that.

    Cheryl: It is actually hard work. Shao-Ning you wanted to share something?

    Shao-Ning: I wanted to echo Ernest's point that I think this is a good time for us to relook what is a good business mindset. 

    I think over the past few years, maybe because of the flying valuations or because it is fanciful to be called a founder, we have a lot of business founders building wrong habits. The business habits are to build market share at all costs, you don't care about cash flow, you can spend $4 to earn $1, or a couple of cents.

    We have to go back to fundamentals and to relook at the business mindset that we have. I think we need to bring people back to Earth. 

    One thing that I thought is going to become normal behavior is (TeddyHealth). It is interesting to see the number of people jogging on the streets even though we have a circuit breaker in Singapore. More people are exercising now regardless of the weather out there, I see people jogging in the rain. 

    I think the fact that we are being cooped up at home makes us realize that we need to get out there. I think it is nice that I hear birds chirping in Singapore, being a city jungle, nature seems to be a lot happier without us out there. So, I think we need to relook at how we are treating the whole environment issues, that's one of the habits I think will change too.

    Geoff: On that note, I am already seeing it socially and professionally, a lot of things that people get bent out of shape about, whether it be people having feuds online or culture wars in the political domain, none of that shit matters, it is a complete waste of time and energy. 

    People are spending more time with their family or missing their family more. People are not having the liberty that they are used to having, there is a positive dimension in the centering that will come from this, and whitewash away some of the BS that has certainly distracted a lot of folks. Conversely, folks are spending a lot more time inside watching YouTube and Facebook, so maybe they are just going to come out more paranoid and argumentative. But I guess we'll see.

    Cheryl: I like that we are all ending on a positive note, I did see on TV the other day that people are working out 65% more. I like that we are talking about the fact that we are forced to go back to business fundamentals and what matters. And we are spending more time with family and loved ones, going back to basics all around, health, loved ones, and unit economics. 

    So with that, I would like to thank you all my wonderful panelists, for being on board. APAC is a huge region, and we loved to hear from all perspectives. With that, I will end the webinar. Bye!

    To sum it up: We were able to get an in-depth look at the way investors and founders are tackling the repercussions of the current crisis on their businesses, different trends that will likely persist in the post-COVID landscape, and other insights. 

    Workstream has been helping SMBs fill their roster with quality hourly employees throughout this challenging time, with their end-to-end hiring software. Connect with us today and find out how we can help you, too. 

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    Desmond Lim

    Desmond Lim is co-founder and CEO of Workstream, an automated hiring platform for companies hiring hourly workers. He is a graduate of Harvard and MIT Media Lab, former product manager at WeChat, and investor at Dorm Room Fund. He is based in San Francisco and lived in Palo Alto with his wife and two young daughters.

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    We serve companies ranging from brick and mortar small businesses to Fortune 500, simplifying the hiring process for:

    • Transportation Companies
    • Hospitals & Assisted Living Centers
    • Grocery & Convenience Stores
    • Restaurants - QSRs to Fine Dining
    • Parks, Stadiums, Arenas
    • Manufacturers / Warehouses
    • Gas Stations
    • Festivals
    • Gyms & Salons
    • Hotels, Resorts, Wineries
    • Logistics Partners