Now, more than ever, the world needs entrepreneurs to build solutions to solve some of the greatest challenges facing humanity, like the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Founder Institute has adopted a strategy to #StopTheSpread of COVID-19. When left unchecked, the virus has a massive spike in infections that overwhelms medical systems, specifically targeting the vulnerable, the elderely and the sick populations.
We are diligently monitoring the virus in every city where we operate. Our goal is to continue providing the highest quality pre-seed accelerator program in the world, while keeping everyone safe and recognizing local and regional health advisories.
- The following programs have been temporarily moved to a virtual environment as of this writing (March 29, 2020): Alexandria, Austin, Berlin, Bogota, Bucharest, Buenos Aires, Chicago, Karachi, Luxembourg, Munich, New York, Salvador (Brazil), Seattle, Silicon Valley, South Florida/ Miami, Stockholm, Sydney, Tel Aviv, Vancouver, Warsaw, Waterloo, Zurich. As soon as it is safe, we will resume in-person sessions in each city. For more info, see our Virtual Program FAQ.
- For the month of March 2020, we are cancelling all public events worldwide to #StopTheSpread, even in cities with no known infections. To replace these public events, we are launching a number of free online events at OnlineStartupEvents.com for the next several months.
- We encourage all Leaders operating Founder Institute programs worldwide to consider moving private program sessions to a virtual format in infected cities.
- We encourage all peer working groups to meet through teleconference or videoconference.
Here are some additional resources we have developed in response to coronavirus:
- Opensource COVID-19 Action Plan Template for small businesses - to help you formulate an action plan for your organization.
- www.founderwellbeing.com - to help you access tools, resources, information and updates on COVID-19.
- Opensource COVID-19 Call for Solutions Directory - to help solve problems related to COVID-19.
We need global leadership on the novel Coronavirus that has the intention to help humanity achieve positive outcomes. After consulting with Local Leaders of Founder Institute chapters across six continents, we have also established a preliminary list of best practices for businesses, governments, and organizations of all kinds facing the spread or effects of the COVID-19 coronavirus. They are outlined here.
In the end, be proactive, stay safe, and consider the safety of others.
See more updates below:
- 03-23-2020 UPDATE: Founder Institute releases an open source directory for COVID-19 solutions.
- 03-19-2020 UPDATE: Founder Institute releases an open source Sample Coronavirus Plan for Business.
- 03-14-2020 UPDATE: Founder Institute has scheduled several free online events to help replace all of the cancelled public events and continue providing educational opportunities for entrepreneurs in the comfort of their home. See the scheduled events at OnlineStartupEvents.com.
- 03-13-2020 UPDATE: The Founder Institute has announced a new Public Health Startup Fellowship to empower entrepreneurs building solutions to COVID-19 and other public health issues.
- 03-12-2020 UPDATE: Founder Institute HQ has announced that all public events in March are cancelled until further notice.
- 03-10-2020 UPDATE: Founder Institute has released a set of mental wellness tips for dealing with the virus due to the recent acknowledgment by the World Health Organization that the coronavirus has considerably increased stress levels, depression and loneliness in the general population.
- 03-09-2020 UPDATE: Founder Institute has released a set of best practices for staying safe at public events due to the recent increase in outbreaks of coronavirus globally.
- 03-08-2020 UPDATE: Silicon Valley will run virtual program sessions to increase social distancing and slow the local spread of the virus, and all meetings at our Silicon Valley HQ office have been cancelled, with employees being encouraged to work from home due to a surge of confirmed cases in the local community. Barcelona and Ramallah Graduations have been postponed.
- 03-05-2020 UPDATE: The program in Seattle will have the last public events and first several program sessions run online due to a large outbreak of coronavirus in Washington State.
- 02-28-2020 UPDATE: Founder Institute calls upon business leaders to share their best practices, and creates an open source hub for sharing information.
- 02-27-2020 UPDATE: Founder Institute releases their initial set of best practices, shown below.
Founder Institute Best Practices
For FI Leaders and Mentors, Limit Travel and Avoid Events
Governments around the world, including Singapore, Spain and Italy, are shutting down public events and airports are refusing flights from countries with large numbers of infected inhabitants. Hotels and ships are being quarantined. South America appears unaffected, which may be due to summer seasonality. Given the uncertainty, executives and businesses are recommended to avoid travel, especially to Europe and Asia, where there is an increasing risk of getting stuck, quarantined or infected.
For the Public, Please Avoid Behavior that Spreads Viruses
There are a series of behavioral improvements to reduce the spread of viruses that we will work to change within our own culture, including:
- Stop shaking hands and replace with fist bumps, if necessary
- Stop coughing into your hand and replace by coughing into a disposable tissue or your left elbow
- Be conscious about touching your face and help team members identify when they do it
- Wash your hands with soap and water three or more times per day
- Use sanitizer before touching common surfaces or handles if possible
- If you are feeling in any way ill, leave to go home and work from home
For FI Leaders and FI HQ, Increase Sanitation Resources at Offices and Events
As discussed by FI Leadership in Hong Kong, face masks, sanitizer and hand wipes are becoming the norm when going out after the virus has spread. FI HQ provides free face masks, sanitizer stations and sanitizer wipes for staff and guests. FI Leaders are recommended to work with facilities hosting events and sessions to have sanitizer and face masks available.
For the Public, If You Recently Visited an Affected Area or near an Infected Person, Please Stay Home
For those that have been in an affected area or been in close contact with an infected person, please self quarantine for 14 days. We ask that you also do not mentor or attend any Founder Institute events. COVID-19 appears to spread widely at events.
Stock Up on Supplies
For Those Operating Physical Spaces, Have Supplies Ready
If you are operating a facility, shortages are a real issue in affected cities and areas. Useful items to stockpile include:
- Hand sanitizer for guests and staff
- Disinfectant wipes for shared work surfaces and handles
- Facial tissue for guests and staff
- Surgical masks (optional)
- Surgical gloves (optional)
For FI Leaders and FI HQ, Encourage and Support Absences Due to Illness
Individuals experiencing signs of illness are encouraged to work from home. For enrolled Founders, if you need to skip a session, please watch the video and complete the company-building work on time, unless an extension is provided through a conversation with your FI Leader. At FI HQ, we have setup a supportive work from home environment with team communication, virtual meetings, and designed work from home scheduling. We will expand and publish our best practices here separately.
Encourage Online Events
For FI Leaders and FI HQ, Increase Number of Online and Virtual Events Offered Worldwide
Historically, online entrepreneurship training has demonstrated unremarkable results, but new tools and techniques have shown promise, such as webinars with top industry leaders, online demo days, and virtual information sessions. FI Leaders in affected areas are encouraged to test online recruiting events during and after their program to build proficiency. We also encourage setting up systems, such as Zoom or Skype, to allow for virtual Mentor participation in physical sessions.
Delay Programs in Affected Cities
For FI Leaders, Delay Programs if the Outbreak Spreads Rapidly within Your City
We recommend to delay programs by one season if an outbreak starts spreading to your city with infection rates measured in the hundreds of cases.
Strengthen Supply Chains
For Companies with Supply Chains, Boost Inventory and Create Supplier Redundancy
According to Mentors and Leaders in our network, Chinese supply chains are experiencing a 50% decline, which is causing a global slowdown. Businesses are recommended to plan accordingly for potential impact on production, costs, sales and revenues.
Stop External Access to Offices
For FI Offices, React to Objective Data Appropriately
All of our offices have COVIOD-19 in the surrounding city. We maintain our core staff and our office is open, but we have suspended office attendance for third-party vendors and visitors. Any team member that wants to can choose to work from home. Anyone feeling ill is asked to work from home until all symptoms are cleared.
We are also having our office sanitized as used by the team, and we provide team members with masks, hand sanitizer, wipes and other recommended sanitization solutions. We are also providing emergency supplies for team members to bring home.
We now run two weekly management meetings, and we have added Cornonavirus as the first topic to monitor the situation and make updates on the risk assessment and action plan as required. We will revisit this response strategy if there are significant changes in the data ("triggers") or if there are alternative recommendations by reputable public health agencies:
- Growth of confirmed local cases to over 25 within a week. We will maintain our core staff, but suspend office attendance for third-party vendors and visitors.
- 2020-03-07: This trigger was exceeded, management discussed the mattter, and the plan was executed on Saturday, Match 7th, 2020. See our internal memo to the FI Team at the bottom of this post (here).
- Growth of confirmed local cases to over 100 in a week. We will implement a work from home strategy, along with other team protection measures, to prevent the spread of the virus.
Founder Institute Alumni Companies Taking Action
We are proud of the Founder Institute Alumni companies who are taking action quickly in response to COVID-19.
Udemy - An online education platform. Action: Released a course “How to foster a growth mindset and adaptability in uncertain environment”: https://www.udemy.com/
Lesson Bee - Culturally responsive lessons and comprehensive curriculum for an awesome (not awkward) health education experience. Action: Released a free online health curriculum for Covid-19 impacted schools -https://lessonbee.com/
Parlay - is a cloud-based edtech platform that aims to help teachers facilitate inclusive discussions with students. Action: Affected by a #schoolclosure? Free upgraded Parlay account to engage Ss in meaningful, data-driven and inclusive discussions: https://parlayideas.com/school-closure-support/
Bridgr (CND) - Marketplace that connect SMBs and Industry 4.0 experts. Action: Crisis Clinic for all companies that need help to move their operation digital or to monitor them: https://bridgr.co/covid-19-free-clinic-for-smb-digital-transformation/
Uno Group (AUS) - AI based platform that analyses cash receipts for restaurants. Action: Providing free biweekly updates on consumer trends to help Australian businesses understand the implications of Covid - 19. https://theunogroupco.com/
TotalCtrl (NOR) - Inventory Management tool for Restaurants and Retail. Action: TotalCtrl Helps Restaurants Save Money and Prevent Food Waste During COVID-19 Crisis by providing their platform for free for restaurants in need. https://totalctrl.no/
Generation Mobility (NOR) - Platform and coaching for international teams. Action: FREE mental-health focused webinars on its platform https://genm.global/ceo-letter-covid-19/
Second Medic (USA) - A tool that helps you get a 2nd doctor opinion online. Action: The highly trained obstetricians of Second Medics are happy to help with questions on COVID and how it affects pregnancy. https://www.secondmedic.com/
Sworkit (USA) - Personal trainer app. Action: Sworkit Youth Initiative offers 40% discount on annual membership to kids whose schools were closed. - https://sworkit.com/
Instant Teams (USA) - Connects employers with military spouses using an applicant tracking. Action: Instant Teams is releasing its beta software early and for FREE in order to help companies successfully transition to remote work in-coming week. https://instantteams.com/
Unito (CAN) - Synchronization platform for enterprise applications. Action: Additional onboarding sessions at no cost + 30% for non-profits. https://unito.io/
Prowess Project (USA) - AI driven platform that matches coaches with remote teams looking to increase their productivity. Action: Released a checklist guide for remotely working moms with kids staying home due to the virus. https://prowessproject.com/