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The Founder’s Survival Guide in the Time of COVID-19

An open letter to founders gearing up for the new economy

Pear
Pear
Mar 14 · 8 min read

Pear wanted to share the e-mail we sent to our portfolio companies this past week with the wider founder community. We hope it is helpful to all of you and that you are staying healthy.

Dear Founders,

We hope all of you and your loved ones are healthy and stay healthy. Although there is a lot of information (and some mis-information) on the COVID-19 outbreak, we wanted to share some resources and our economic outlook and how you should plan for it.

Elad Gil who is a serial entrepreneur and investor is blogging extensively about COVID-19 here. We think it is one of the best sources of information. In his blog you can find actual data of where every country is with the spread of the virus, resources on how to protect employees and advice for dealing with a downturn. We recommend you read Elad’s blog.

No one can predict with certainty what will happen but experts believe “it will get worse.” It all depends on how quickly we react. You can watch this video for a simple explanation on the math behind the spread (simple enough to watch with your kids). The New York Times has just put out an interactive tool to visualize different scenarios.

What does this all mean for a company?

We are in a new economic environment. Operating in this environment is different than business-as-usual though. This guide lays out some principles that will help you set up your business to weather the coming storm and emerge from it stronger than ever.

1. Keeping employees safe and limiting the spread

You will likely need to come up to speed in best remote work practices. Here are some useful links:

2. Managing the downturn - a financial outlook

Most of you have read by now the Sequoia Capital blog on “Corona Virus: The Black Swan of 2020.” Some of you may remember their blog “RIP the good times” from our last downturn in 2008. If you have not read these two documents, please do so!

The new reality: Money into the company will drop

SeeItMarket

A new plan: how to extend your runway

Whether you have 18 months of cash in the bank or 6 months of cash, we suggest that you take another look at your current financial plan and evaluate carefully whether you have the runway you think you do. We have lived the last two major downturns and we have witnessed first hand that only companies with cash survive.

Here are some concrete steps you should take:

This picture from the Sequoia presentation puts these last two points in a clear light and this quote summarizes it: “Nobody ever regrets making fast and decisive adjustments to changing circumstances.”

Once you have made a plan, take a breath and think again — have I been as decisive and aggressive as I can be?

Finally, if you do need to fundraise, we suggest you adjust your expectations and get started quickly as it will take longer. Do not optimize for valuation, optimize for enough cash to survive.

A new Northstar: opportunity to build a strong business

If (and only if) you have enough cash and you spend it judiciously, you have the opportunity to focus on building a strong business rather than focusing on things that don’t matter. Some iconic companies were founded or built early in the last downturn of 2008–2009, marquee companies like Airbnb, Uber, Slack and many others. Some existing companies take this as an opportunity to grow, such as Apple who reinvented itself in the recession of 2001.

We will be reaching out to each individual company (if we have not done so yet) and discuss with each of you plans moving ahead. We understand some of you may have just raised and some may need to raise. No matter your situation, Pear is here to help you. Please reach out to us with any questions/concerns.

Stay healthy and safe,

The Pear Team

Pear

Written by

Pear

An Early Stage venture fund founded by @pejmannozad and @MarHershenson. We invest in exceptional founders who are building amazing companies.

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