How should startups respond/pivot to the pandemic?

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Product Management, Public Trust Services, 10,001+ employees
There's probably some startup opportunities in the area of education. We have great universities in the greater San Francisco Bay area, Boston and elsewhere, and these do effectively manifest as sorting hats. But what they really have is great teachers and networks. There is an opportunity to extend, not just these online classes, but be able to extend that community in a meaningful way into the middle of America, and build on top of this shift. Like all education startups, it's a long road. It would take a brave investor with commitment to the founders, but I do think that this is a trend that will happen. 

I also think that the way we approach IT may change. If we look at what it means to onboard an employee who's never going to physically be in the office, there's lots of supply chain relationship management problems that actually exist. The HR startups, that are frankly just web form versions of the paper processes that companies were doing, those companies that are domain experts in doing these things online, they are still burdened with heavy paper processes. I think that there are startup opportunities in the area of how do you automate these core business processes. Another area that is particularly interesting is the way we use work laptops at Google. Let's say my work laptop were to die, I would drive to the closest Google office, I would walk in. And then there's just a stack of laptops there where I come in and I badge and I walk away with a laptop and they assume the one that was unplugged when I badged was the one I took. Then I log in, they cross reference it to that, and now that laptop is associated with me and my downtime is an hour round trip. I think that there will be somebody who's successful in this area to augment the IT desktop lifecycle. If you look at fully loaded costs of an employee, there's a lot of value to be extracted, if you can compress that into a more complete solution.
VP of Partnerships and Strategic Advisor in Software, 51 - 200 employees
We're nowhere near the end of this pandemic. It's going to continue until the middle of next year at the earliest. I tell startups not to over pivot: don't pivot too hard, too fast, or too far. You started your company for a reason and the fabric of reality hasn't changed fundamentally, it's not like the rules of physics no longer apply. The problem that you started addressing will come back; it's probably just not top of mind right now. Not everybody can be a COVID company, but at the same time, the longer that this goes on the higher the toll and cost in terms of reformatting infrastructure, operations, capabilities, real estate, changing the distribution of assets for large corporations. This has a huge effect. And then you look at the psychological impact: how we think about going out or travelling. I think we'll get ripples from this for decades.
Chairman, Sacramento Angels, Self-employed
I wonder how many functions that have had limitations forced upon them by this environment can be accomplished through the Internet of Things. For example, I have heard of a drone company that surveys the big mines. The people who validate the progress in their mining operation were worried about traveling in the COVID world, so they became customers of this surveying technology. Can that type of technology be used in our industries?
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Product Management, Public Trust Services, 10,001+ employees

In the 90s, it used to be that security was something you would bolt on to a product. As we approached 2000, security became something that you incorporated into your products. Many security segments collapsed into features and other products. It's not to say that security as a product is going away, but you can certainly see the low hanging fruit becoming, security by design, security by default, these sorts of concepts. I think this will manifest more in how products are built when they need to meet the associated compliance regimes versus a huge product opportunity. I think that your analogy of the mine auditing is a good one. Construction companies will also sometimes rely on cameras to make sure that things are actually happening. I think the problem is very similar, the difference is that, in some of these facilities you don't get to have a view of what's happening inside of those facilities relative to security controls. You have to look at the artifacts that the system produces to be able to assess conformity with your policies, procedures, and controls. I don't immediately see the opportunity for startups to build things, but I do see a trend happening in the context of the way we build software, that actually plays very well to this reality that we're now facing. For example with Signal, they don't make assumptions about the operating system, or the environment that they're running in, instead they try to build security mechanisms into the way the system is built. I think in the context of compliance, you'll see that same approach. How am I, as I design this system going to be able to demonstrate to my auditors as a natural byproduct, not an artificial byproduct, that I'm meeting my compliance obligations. That's my initial thinking there.


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