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WA startups rolling on

Picture of Liam Wignell
Liam Wignell
// // As COVID-19 continues to disrupt our way of life, we spoke with several local startups on how they are dealing with the ongoing crisis...

// As COVID-19 continues to disrupt our way of life, we spoke with several local startups on how they are dealing with the ongoing crisis…

Whilst the Australian Government is yet to shut down non-essential workplaces, it is no secret that many are getting prepared.

Large corporations such as Telstra, Vodaphone, Westpac, Ernst & Young, Atlassian and others have already told staff to work from home, so we asked several local startups how they are dealing with the challenges caused by the COVID-19 crisis and what advice they have for others.

Dylan Lamb, Holonic

“It’s been an interesting few weeks that’s for sure,” Dylan Lamb, co-founder of circular economy consultant Holonic, told Startup News.

As much of their work involves workshops and public events, Holonic has seen an impact on their core offerings as a result of the coronavirus.

“It’s definitely had an effect on our work as much of it involves social interaction and large group gatherings,” he said.

However, Dylan sees opportunities for businesses in the long term.

“It’s an opportunity to respond to disruption and demonstrate leadership though for sure – whether that’s through digital technology and exploring new ways to work and interact…. I hope to see new ways of connecting and collaborating and more positive signs from the business community in the coming months.”

WA startups rolling on
Photo by Dillon Shook

Michael Garrett, Cinglevue

Education technology solutions provider Cinglevue faces the challenge of having staff located both interstate and internationally, with offices in Perth and Colombo, additional resources in Sydney and the United States, along with current collaboration on projects with multiple Australian universities.

However, according to Cinglevue’s Head of Innovation Michael Garrett, as a result of their engagement model, they are ready for disruption being caused by the coronavirus.

“Supporting this engagement model required us to invest significantly in tools for effective communication and collaboration,” Michael said, “and with these in place for some time now this has allowed us as an organisation to readily adapt to the Covid-19 preventative measures in terms of supporting working from home, social distancing and remote meetings.”

A development of a Cinglevue learning platform – known as Virtuoso Holistic Education Learning Platform (HELP) – has allowed key stakeholders to take advantage of these flexibilities.

Michael adds, “We have adopted a similar approach in the development of HELP where schools, teachers, students, and parents are afforded the same capabilities to enable greater flexibility in supporting teaching, learning, and communication and collaboration amongst key stakeholders.“  

WA startups rolling on
Photo by Christopher Gower

Tom Young, Udrew

Tom Young, a co-founder of online building plans and approvals software system Udrew, currently has two-thirds of staff working from home.

Udrew started getting organised in mid-February after the first few coronavirus cases were reported in Australia by reviewing insurance and workplace policies in the event of the coronavirus situation worsening.

“Last week the team was sent a detailed action plan, which covered a variety of different scenarios which we are currently putting into action including voluntary work from home policies as well as a shift to online meetings and to cancel any upcoming events scheduled,” Tom told Startup News.

Fortunately, despite the disruption, Udrew is well placed for all outcomes and believes there is a low-to-moderate threat for their business operations in the medium term.

Tom stresses however that the welfare of his staff is the top priority. Additionally, Udrew advises that their toilet paper stocks are “plentiful”.

Tom’s advice for other businesses include:

  • Encourage social responsibility:  provide information on how to reduce risks to others, provide hand sanitisers, tissues, resources. Lead by example.
  • Learn and act quickly: understand what is happening now, what might happen and prepare for a number of scenarios and do not be hesitant with decision making. Start planning now for a variety of outcomes. Talk to other leaders, find out what they are doing and only rely on legitimate information sources when planning and communicating the situation.
  • Be empathetic: Talk to your team, shareholders, associates, suppliers, clients etc and understand their personal positions and offer support where possible. Look after and help them along with others who may have it worse.
  • Communicate, Communicate, COMMUNICATE!: Provide your team / clients with information on the situation, what measures in place to mitigate risk, guidance, reassurance, your strategy and answer questions. This will avoid panic and confusion and will help give some form of peace of mind. Maintain integrity and be honest.
  • DON’T PANIC! It will just make things worse for everyone. No matter how panicked you may be, as a leader it is important to maintain cool, calm and collected as this will reflect onto your team, clients etc. Take it one step at a time and breathe!

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Featured Photo: by Claire Mueller

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Picture of Liam Wignell

Liam Wignell

Liam has extensive experience across marketing, procurement and project management roles in both the public and private sector. He contributed to Startup News from 2020 to 2023 and was contracted as Managing Editor in 2022.
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