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WER Webinar – Talk to the Experts: Securing investment during times of crisis

On Friday, 27th March, we held our first WER Webinar on adaptable working, ‘Talk to the experts: Securing investment during times of crisis,’ which brought together four leading investors to discuss how to secure funding for your entrepreneurial venture during difficult global periods, such as the coronavirus pandemic.

Kicking off with welcome remarks from European Young Innovators Forum (EYIF) President, Nicholas Zylberglajt, who set out the vision of the WER Webinars, as a weekly series of online events that aims to provide adaptable and innovative solutions to today’s unpredictable working environment.

The vibrant virtual panel discussion was quickly underway as our array of speakers, from across the European startup and innovation ecosystem, including: Raphaëlle Martin-Neuville, Associate at Aster; Sonia Fernández, Partner at Kibo Ventures; Nina Rinke, Investment Analyst at Earlybird; and Robert Gallenberger, Partner at btov, outlined the general mood amongst investors, as affected by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Starting with Rinke connecting from Germany, who reassured the online audience that the fund’s long standing history, having been founded in 1997, meant they were able to mitigate the impact of the crisis having survived two in the past. Assuring investors and investees alike that the deal flow has not halted, even though it has understandably slowed, which was reiterated by Gallenberger also connecting from Germany.

However, Fernández, connecting from Spain, did point out that the impact of the coronavirus pandemic was heavily dependent on which sector the venture/project operated within. For instance, micro-mobility i.e. e-scooters faced a much heavier blow due to the globally implemented quarantine and lockdown enforced across Europe and beyond, particularly when compared to the ed-tech and gaming sectors; who can both expect a boom in their respective industries due to the same measures.

With Gallenberger noting the positive impact of the outbreak from health data, 3D printing, and risk management companies, who have seen an increase in their supply and demand chain directly due to the pandemic.

Fernández also added that client portfolio diversification was of key, as was investor adaptability particular when conducting due diligence, especially as face-to-face meetings are no longer possible due to social distancing measures in most countries, which was agreed upon by Gallenberger, who also acknowledged the fundamental importance of face-to-face meetings when making investment decisions. Although, he understood that adaptability was necessary in order to continue at this time with ‘warm introductions’ continuing to play a key role in the investment pipeline, even if conducted virtually or online.

All investors agreed that it is crucial to have a COVID-19 plan to present to investors when you meet and demonstrate an understanding of how this is impacting your business

Martin-Neuville, connecting from France, expressed how the initial shock of the pandemic has put pressure on the investment pipeline, with Fernández highlighting the reactive speed of decisions being made to stem the flow of damage as the uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic. Especially as the pandemic has impacted Spain more so than other parts of Europe due to the scale of the outbreak there, leading to some deals being halted entirely although there is some foreseen upward movement in the digital space as time goes on.

With all speakers agreeing that the retention of credibility and resilience by maintaining and sticking to commitments would prove fundamental in ensuring access to finance, during this difficult period particularly as the global working model moves more into adaptable and adjusted working to sustain the economy, with cash flow in most countries being redistributed to sustain emergency funding to combat the coronavirus threat collectively.

Fernández also added that clients needed to value their existing network of investors, to compensate for the slow down and redistribution of funds that will directly impact the investment pipeline, leading to investors becoming more careful in regard to valuations.

With Martin-Neuville offering insightful advice on how to navigate and treat the coronavirus impact, as just another change to market trends that will undoubtedly drive investment in some sectors. A notion echoed by Fernández who cited the consumer goods market as one of the plausible ‘winners’ of the crisis, due to heightened awareness of the production chain.

Overall, the webinar provided a human insight into the magnitude of the coronavirus pandemic in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, allowing the audience to connect with venture capitalists to get advice on how to best navigate the situation and insights on the biggest changes to global working culture, namely adjustable and adaptable working.

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A topic that we will cover in great detail in our next webinar ‘Remote Working: Amidst a global pandemic’, on Friday 3rd April at 16:00 CET, where we will be joined by leading global experts in remote working including;

– Oriane Pannelier-Tarieul, Product Marketing Manager for Grow with Google (EMEA Region);
– Tom Ronen, Head of Customer Success at Monday.com;
– Megan Dilley, Director, Remote Work Association;
– Liam Martin, Co-Founder, Co-Organiser & CMO Time Doctor, Staff.com and Running Remote Conference

Register via Eventbrite here.