Innovation in a Time of Crisis
Liat Sade-Sternberg, founder and CEO of Fuse.it, shares what she’s learned about leading and growing a company in the middle of a crisis.
Beyond the humanitarian tragedy of this pandemic, Covid-19 was a catalyst for all of us startups, retailers, and corporate enterprises to face our business strengths side by side with our weaknesses and omissions. The tendency that we have to postpone things to days “when the time is right…” suddenly hit us and forced us to make the necessary changes that will keep our companies growing. As running a startup invites ongoing opportunities with ongoing crisis management, one perspective is that this can be an opportunity to lead and attack because startups are vulnerable players in any economy. The following insights are based on my personal experience:
- Understand your product and your tech. Although tech is very important and your company’s IP is an asset, we all tend to fall in love with it and in many cases miss the right execution of our tech. However, it is your product and business model that are more important than the shield of your IP. While running the company, more than once, I have changed the business model, product and moved from a B2C company to a B2B company. From approaching consumers to approaching brands, everything was based on the same tech. The most important thing to save our business is how versatile are we with our tech going ahead versus how versatile is the tech. Changing the business model and your product in times of crisis can be a game changer in your company’s roadmap and lead your business to greater success. I have implemented “same tech, different execution” several times.
- Ongoing research. Markets are constantly changing. 2020 should have been a major year in marketer plans; the Olympic games, 2020 UEFA and more. However, this pandemic changed the marketer plan for 2020 and suddenly plans, which were relevant two months ago, are now yesterday’s news. This is exactly when new doors open and new market behavior can be boosted by two to five years. This is when some vectors completely shut down and others are the best opportunity for your startup. Understanding the obstacles and being on top of your market is a key to your company’s evolution. Two years ago, Facebook changed the algorithm and most of the brands lost their fan engagement on the Facebook platform. As we were in the headlines, we changed our sales pitch on the same day and that expanded our partner portfolio by 100%. The same thing happened with the Covid-19 pandemic. The cancellation of sport events, festivals, etc., has put marketers in a situation where they have to act fast and find new marketing alternatives. Stepping into this opportunity with the right solution and pitch is a game changer. In my case, what should have taken me two years, took four weeks.
- Work with your team. In many of the cases when the situation is unstable, we tend to say to our team that everything is as yesterday. This can be because we fear that they’ll start looking for another job, perhaps share the situation with our clients, but most of all this is being run by our fears and not by logic. I have realized that sharing the situation with your team can actually strengthen you more than you imagine and lead your company to a solution you haven’t really thought of. As your team is your family, share with them the situation. Remember that you have chosen to work with them every day because they are smart, talented and leaders that are going to change the world with you. Bearing this in mind, in a time of a crisis let them guide the company with you to a bigger success.
Liat Sade-Sternberg is the founder and CEO of Fuse.it, leading the startup to a new revolution in the video and augmented reality segments for brands, media and content companies. Liat was the first Israeli women who, in 2015, won MIDEMLAB, the biggest startup competition of the music industry and was recognized by ‘Vivendi’ as a Promising Entrepreneur. Formerly, Liat served as a VP Sales & Marketing of Babylon, leading the marketing strategies execution to meet the company objectives. With an average of 31.3 million daily unique visitors, Liat managed multimillion-dollar marketing and sales budgets. During her role the Company income had grown significantly and won a Guinness World Record. Liat volunteers as a mentor in the 8200 EISP, TLV Google campuses for mom, she is an active leading member of the Magma challenge and more. She holds a B.A in Sociology, Anthropology & East Asian Studies and Chinese Language from Tel Aviv University, an M.A in Law Studies from Bar-Ilan University, and 2 granted patents.