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Growth and Innovation during COVID - Innovate with Purpose

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Trevor Townsend
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Growth and Innovation during COVID - Innovate with Purpose

Prioritizing innovation today is the key to unlocking post-crisis growth. The leaders will accelerate, and the laggards will fall further behind.

We see many industries that have embraced innovation during the COVID-19 crises and have made significant changes to their business - witness the speed of rolling out vaccines, the dramatic rise of online shopping, remote education and vast improvements in the digital experience of many companies.

We are also seeing enduring consumer trends emerging as we move to a new normal

  • Consumers are focussing on value and essentials.
  • A shock to loyalty - customers have a greater willingness to try alternatives
  • Homebody economy - spending more on home pursuits. We see this in our cities and regional areas, with the surge in housing prices and renovation spending at an all-time high.

Consumers are trying different shopping behaviours and expressing a high intent (65 per cent or more) to incorporate these behaviours in the future.

With COVID as a backdrop, we are witnessing the rise and rise of sustainability as a core driver, both at the corporate and consumer level. This ever-heightening awareness drives the need for change across many sectors, including energy, food, clothing, and manufacturing.

The financial services sector is emerging as a key player in net-zero and sustainability as banks move away from funding ‘dirty’ projects and ESG investing becomes more and more mainstream.

Innovation is a means to an end; we don’t have time to be innovative just for the sake of being innovative. Innovation needed to solve real problems.

The COVID crisis provides the opportunity to Innovate with Purpose - to harness changing consumer behaviours and shift business models toward simpler, digital service models focusing on openness and sustainability.

“We know from analyses of previous crises that the momentum with which a company emerges from a downturn determines its course for years: those that come out strong keep outperforming while the latecomers continue to lag. That makes 2021 a year of outsize significance for your strategy—an opportunity to get a jump on competitors slower off the starting blocks.”

“The biggest mistake retail companies make? Unwillingness to invest in something that doesn’t automatically feed the bottom line. The biggest win: using cutting-edge technology to give consumers a way of envisioning their lives if they go ahead and buy.”

Covid forced organizations to pick concrete innovation goals such as making up for lost revenue when retail stores closed, adapting an offering to virtual delivery, or capitalizing on an influx of new users.

In our Sports and Event Tech Accelerator program, we see the trend accelerated with many of the leading startups embracing the power of direct consumer influencers (Famecast, Promoshare, FullVenue) and digital experiences such as CityGuyd and Sportvot providing unique sporting experiences.

We are also seeing the physical and digital converging with  Row Nation, who, like Peloton, create new communities from the homebody trend. Pelton saw its shares’ value increase more than fivefold even as most traditional gyms have struggled under lockdowns.

The process of innovation led us at Startupbootcamp to jointly develop the POC program with one of our energy clients, to connect them with later-stage startups, who solve particular problems that have the potential for immediate rollout and impact in the Australian market.

We started from mapping more than 24,000 energy startups worldwide to selecting six scaleups for the program.

The program design was also contextually mapped to the new pandemic world that we live in -

  • Remote work and hence an entirely virtual program
  • The need to build engagement and trust in a digital world
  • The pressure to innovate, collaborate and share ideas
  • Whilst trying to achieve a more speedy engagement between the startup and the large corporate.

The client was able to move into trials with five companies in a short six-week process, accelerating their learnings of new solutions to achieve impactful outcomes.

We have the opportunity to reflect on the changes made over the last 18 months, identify enduring trends and continue practices that enabled us all to move rapidly, adopt new working practices, and embrace innovation and change at an unprecedented rate. We need to continue to Innovate with Purpose.

1. https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/a-global-view-of-how-consumer-behavior-is-changing-amid-covid-19

2. Alinta calls for federal fund as banks desert coal power. https://www.afr.com/companies/energy/govt-fund-needed-as-banks-desert-coal-power-alinta-20210609-p57zm8

3. https://www.professionalplanner.com.au/2021/05/global-trend-towards-esg-investing-gathers-pace/

4. https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/the-impact-of-covid-19-on-capital-markets-one-year-in

5. John Straw on the McKinsey on Consumer and Retail podcast.

Trevor Townsend avatar

Trevor Townsend

CEO @ Startupbootcamp Australia