Scaling During Tumultuous Times: Global Market Series Summary

During April, FD Global Connections facilitated 3 webinars each with a regional focus titled “Market Spotlight Series”.  With over 100 businesses joining, we transversed the globe with our business partners in the USA, Singapore, and UK/EMEA. Each “Market Spotlight” had experts – local business leaders – who shared what was happening in their regions with COVID-19, the impact on overall business investment and activity.

Not surprisingly, there were consistent themes across the three regions, although there were some standout differences, all of which I have summarised below.

  1. COVID-19 is having a real impact on business activity, but….

There was no doubt the virus was having a real impact on businesses but there were signs that “working from home” policies and procedures were becoming standardised. During the early days of “lockdown”, there was a lull in business focus whilst leaders merged their responsibilities in a virtual home-business-shelter. However, with new habits formed at home-offices, during April there was a shift with business productivity improvements.

Key messages :

: There was a focus on resetting goals to enable staff to be as productive as they could whilst they also supported their families. (USA/UK)

: It was becoming easier to engage decision-makers at Corporations. With travel banned, executives had more time for meetings – even on the weekend. (Singapore)

Investors are hard to find

All panelists agreed that investors – particularly FFF, Angels, and some Series A – were in lockdown. These investors were not focussing on making further investments but instead “shoring up” their assets, whilst nurturing their early staged companies through the disruption. Later stage investors are continuing to seek out opportunities particularly B2B Tech.  If scaleups had already started to take their business globally and had commenced discussions with potential investors, they were in the prime spot to secure capital.

Key messages:

: Series B (plus) investors were continuing to seek out opportunities – particularly from B2B RegTech, Cyber, and Blockchain cloud-based providers. (EMEA)

: If companies are seeking Angel’s or Series A investors, continue to research and connect with them, so those companies are ahead of the curve when restrictions ease. (USA)

  1. Industry trends across the globe.

There was an interesting mix of industry focus across the 3 regions. Whilst there were consistent insights regarding financial services and insurance industry with deeper risk and security scrutiny, there was also interesting industry pivots in response to COVID-19, and emerging industries.

In the USA, 15 car manufacturers pivoted to now produce PPE, whilst Financial Services and Insurance companies – whose reputation for being slow to transform their processes to digital is well known – were being catapulted into digital much faster than ever seen previously.

Key messages:

: In S/East Asia and the USA, there was a continued growing demand for alternative meat and plant-based foods.

: Mobility solutions were an emerging focus area for the USA.

  1. Scaling globally is possible during a pandemic

Surprisingly, across each region the same message was given for businesses seeking to scale internationally; that it is possible. We heard from each region of examples where businesses were winning sales by engaging local experts who have established networks. Given travel restrictions will be in place for the foreseeable future unless scaleups have dedicated, locally-based employees, they need to resource their business with a local expert to act as their representative.

The panelists also highlighted the importance for businesses to complete a risk assessment with a microscopic assessment of supply chains, internal processes, and policies. Only by understanding their risk profile and strategies to mitigate identified risks, should businesses continue to scale globally.

(In March, FD Global Connections kicked off the webinar series with “Scaling During Tumultuous Times: Assessing Your Business Risk”. If you are interested in a framework to apply to your business, go to FD Global Connections Youtube channel or click on “Scaling During Tumultuous Times”.)