These 5 CEOs told us what their startups could really use right now - Technical.ly Philly

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Apr. 1, 2020 2:43 pm

These 5 CEOs told us what their startups could really use right now

One said government money, while another needs a babysitter.
Rui Jing Jiang and Brandon Kao of Avisi.

Rui Jing Jiang and Brandon Kao of Avisi.

(Photo courtesy of University City District)

During a global pandemic, economic uncertainty and job stability are top of mind for anyone — including the founder of a growing startup.

Pennsylvania is currently leading nationally in unemployment claims. Meanwhile, the news for economists, Mayor Jim Kenney said at a press conference recently, is that we won’t know the true effects for a while, but: “It’s not good.”

Nevertheless, business leaders are doing what they can to operate amid the health crisis. Some are pivoting their business models, while others are now making PPE for healthcare workers.

We checked in with a handful of startup founders via email this week, asking: What does your business need right now? Their replies have been edited for length and clarity.

Jared Cannon, CEO of Simply Good Jars, which sells prepackaged salads in office spaces

We were getting ready to circulate a Series A, and have settled on a $500,000 bridge round to get us through until we’re confident we’ll be able to circulate with reception. We had to reduce all salaries to hourly wages to align with an over 90% loss of revenue. However, adding our home delivery has certainly helped. We’re averaging between 75 to 100 per week with capacity for much more.

What’s really important, though, is these hospitals we are supporting. The hospitals are being overworked and finding time for food is unrealistic for these workers. We’ve had all our hospital location fridges adjusted to be free for weeks now, and we’re taking that loss on our backs because we want to help, but there is so much more room for us to help by engaging the community.

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So it goes without saying, we’re in need of short-term government cash to get our employees square, help circulating our bridge note of $500,000, and if interested, getting the word out on how we can engage Philadelphians to help support or sponsor feeding our front-line medical team heroes.

AJ Bruno, CEO of QuotaPath, makers of commission tracking software

With the world in such chaotic uncertainty, I’ve tried to make sure that the team has some certainty to their day-to-day environment. Seventy-five percent of our 16 full time employees were product or engineering and so working from home has been a very minimal issue. We’ve had strong organizational cadence and structure and that has continued. I give a huge shoutout to the entire team as the process we have continued to improve over the months is working very well for us right now.

As far as what I need besides a babysitter for my three kids ;)? It is probably what we all need … a little hope. A glimmer of light over the next month that we will all work to improve our situations for the greater good. We need leaders to step up and be the voice of reason to serve as role models.

Rui Jing Jiang, CEO of Avisi Technologies, makers of an ocular implant to treat glaucoma

One thing that we are very interested in is the implementation of the CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program. I’ve been on a few webinars hosted by various organizations, including AdvaMed Accel, and so far everyone is waiting with bated breath for specific Small Business Administration guidance.

I have tried to reach out to banks listed on the SBA website as lenders as well, but almost none have been responsive or have online resources. I am sure maintaining runway and covering payroll for as long as possible is top of everyones’ minds right now, and I hope there will be smooth, rapid implementation of this much needed assistance.

[Editor’s note: The PPP app was made visible on Tuesday afternoon.]

Ryan Frankel, CEO of This App Saves Lives, an app that rewards safe drivers

What we need most may not be possible at the moment. We need clear and evidence-based guidelines for when businesses may reopen. As a business centered on rewarding drivers who abstain from phone-based distracted driving, we’ll be thrilled when individuals can take to the roads again and do so with safety top of mind. Moreover, since the rewards points we issue are redeemable for amazing gifts from our brand partners, we can’t fulfill our promise to our partners to drive new foot-traffic to their stores until life returns to some semblance of normality.

I strongly believe that the only way to accelerate our progress against this virus is for everyone to practice social distancing whenever possible. So what do we need most at this moment? For individuals to do what’s in the greater good of the world at large. Stay put, stay safe, save lives.

Kristy McCann Flynn, CEO of GoCoach, which teaches professional skills

I think the most important thing businesses need right now outside of money is support. We have seen people and businesses come in to get support with coaching even with all the financial hardships. And me — well, I have begun teletherapy sessions again to help me and my mental illness. Now more than ever, people need to power of others to help them, to support them and to listen.

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