Innovating in the time of COVID19

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On May 12th, TheVentureCity organized a virtual techtulia to discuss how startups from South Florida continue to innovate and are trying to create a positive impact on society during these uncertain times. The techtulia, moderated by Maria Derchi Russo, Investments Director at TheVentureCity, featured Adam Garfield, Co-founder & CEO at SpeedETab; Maxeme Tuchman, CEO & Co-Founder at Caribu; and Jerry Wilmink, Chief Business Officer at CarePredict. These startups based in South Florida have made a significant impact on the local community.

How has the roadmap changed due to COVID-19?

SpeedETap's mission is to empower restaurants to be more successful by creating their own ordering channel. Adam Garfield, Co-founder & CEO explains, "Our platform went from a tool to drive incremental revenue and improve guest experiences, to pure necessity as a lifeline for restaurants to transact". Their focus has been on deepening those product offerings to help restaurants more. Caribu brings families together for a virtual playdate. Their product has been in high demand. People need to share those special moments with their families. Maxeme Tuchman, CEO & Co-Founder, explains that to to grow "you must balance the things you want to build, with your customers' requests." Carepredict is a digital health company. They developed a wearable device and information platform for senior living facilities. When COVID19 started, customers were reaching out to use their product directly with consumers, so they did. They also created a pinpoint software for contact tracing in nursing homes.

How has your company dealt with the dramatic increases in growth?

Maxeme (Caribu) believes that growing pains are temporary. It is essential to hire the best people and have them on board. Adam (SpeedETap) shares "the beautiful thing about being a software company, is that we can deal with growth without having to hire." Jerry (CarePredict) explains that with high demand "we have to be selective on making sure we address the most vulnerable population."

What was your first communication with your investors during COVID-19? How have they helped you?

Adam Garfield shared they want to open as many doors as possible and understand all the opportunities arising during these times. "While we are not are not actively raising the next round of capital, it definitely opens the door to new interests." Maxeme Tuchman explains how when they offered the app for free in March. It was important for families that cannot afford to pay for Caribu to be able to use it. One of their investors, AT&T, invested half a million dollars so they could stay in business and keep giving the product out for free. Furthermore, Jerry Wilmink states, "Our venture backers have helped us significantly in terms of introducing us to new customers, figuring out how to stay lean and yet grow and expand on this new offering." They have not let a single person go and are looking to expand even further.

What has been your key learning, what would you say to founders that want to get in our industry?

Maxeme's advice to founders, "continue to be flexible and know that no matter what comes at of you, good or bad, there is always another side." Adam believes in having an incredible team around you, with constant communication, allied with the mission for the company. His key to success is having stability, scalability, and security. For Jerry, "the key for us during this period is to address the bigger problem and move fast."