By Doug Weintraub, Bounce CEO
Posted: April 15, 2020
In January, I wrote “Year in Review: Celebration and Focus,” a blog post that featured 2019 Bounce highlights and 2020 plans and goals. To be sure, from that vantage point, 2019 was a year full of change for Bounce and 2020 was a year full of promise.
Three and a half months later, 2020 isn’t looking as hopeful as it did in January. In fact, it’s downright scary from a public health perspective, as well as economic. To that, as we continue to manage our personal and professional lives in the midst of the COVID-19 global health pandemic, there is one highlight from 2019 that is becoming especially poignant as we seek to serve entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses who are getting hit, hard.
In 2019, we truly became an “open” innovation hub. In short, that meant continuing to serve technology companies, while expanding services to include non-technology-focused companies with an emphasis on businesses owned by minorities and women.
Our list of companies quickly expanded to not just software, biomedical and advanced materials, but record stores, clothing and apparel, barber shops, restaurants, catering services and home health assistance. No longer restricted by funding, and with the right team on board, we were now able to serve everyone, in some capacity, who needs our help.
Fast forward to the here and now. Bounce is closed to the public, our Workshop is producing PPE for frontline workers and we’re doing our best to keep our community informed and active. But most importantly, we quickly adjusted our programming and advisory services so that no entrepreneur or small business under our watch was left behind. Some companies are considered essential, so they are still operating and we’re keeping the facility clean and safe for them. As a team, we started working remotely, moved meetings online, adjusted work schedules, and learned how to host Zoom calls.
Above all else, our top priority is to stay in communication with our companies and help where we could. Regularly scheduled advisory calls have continued with no interruption and, in some cases, are even more productive than before.
I recently found this opinion piece from David Sax of The New York Times titled “The Coronavirus Is Showing Us Which Entrepreneurs Matter.” As I was reading it, everything really hit home for me. I highly encourage you to read it, but the gist of it is that even as many (most?) small businesses are struggling and facing possible demise, they continue to act as a community in a time of need – and the majority of these are the barber shops, the restaurants, the home health workers. I.e., our entrepreneurs and small businesses are keeping communities intact.
Bounce, itself, is a community that spans all races, genders, ages and ethnicities. Even before COVID-19, we put much focus and resources into fostering camaraderie and collaboration amongst our companies and members. I can report that this bond is now stronger than ever and I fully believe will be that much better when we are all back in the building, working side by side.
Whether you agree with David Sax’s article or not, what I realized as I was reading it (and why I wanted to write this blog post) is that THIS is why we do what we do each day in support of entrepreneurs. Some days are better than others but each day we can help those in search of added cash flow or a way to keep those they hired in place. We are a shoulder to cry on for entrepreneurs needing a nudge or reassurance that they will make it out okay and why they must press on in the face of adversity.
As mentioned above, this mission started years ago with technology and manufacturing companies, and expanded to include non-technology last year. To that, not one of our team members has slowed down; in fact, we are busier than ever as this pandemic churns on for all of us.
This too shall pass and one day we will all get back to rolling up our sleeves in person. But this is Bounce’s chance to do our small part to keep things moving forward and I promise that we won’t let up. In fact, I encourage you to seek us out, even if you aren’t a current client. Our programs continue to roll along – our Incubator for advanced technology companies, our Accelerator for software companies and our GROW programs for non-tech businesses, including our Next Level Incubator. You can apply any time.
Bottom line – we can’t and won’t stop now.