Rise New York’s FinTech platform team explains how the network is helping its members adapt to new ways of working.
Ilana Fass and Alex Gheorghe manage Rise New York—Barclays’ FinTech innovation community of more than 400 entrepreneurs, and one of four Rise sites globally. On the week of Rise’s fifth anniversary, the team explains how the community has responded and how Rise New York is helping its members adapt to the new economic environment and to new ways of working.
How has Covid-19 impacted the global Rise community?
We’ve been amazed at the resilience of our members in London, New York, Mumbai and Tel Aviv. It’s a tough time for everyone, but based on discussions with members, both by informal chats and through our programmed digital events, we see a picture of determination and inventiveness.
Members are working tirelessly to survive the pressures of the current environment. This includes exploring new ways of accessing funding, learning new ways of working and thinking, and (in good agile fashion) even re-evaluating value propositions. Read about how some of our members are adapting.
How has Covid-19 impacted the startup community in New York?
Startups are agile by nature, so the easy answer to “how” startups responded to new working environments is: “quickly”. That being said, applications to support remote collaboration have increased.
The best example is Zoom, but other virtual office connectivity tools such as MURAL, Slack, and Trello have supported employees with virtual facilitation, communication, and project management, respectively. Additionally, there has been a substantial acceleration in cloud adoption across startups and large corporates that is here to stay.
What's the outlook for FinTech firms and startups in the US?
What we're seeing is a true need for FinTech around the world, with opportunities coming to our startups at an unprecedented rate. It could be a new lending-assessment model that is now receiving greater interest. It could be a company with a digital-payments platform that now has an easier route to market. Our founders are receiving near-endless inbound calls.
Of course Covid-19 has had a significant impact on the startup community in New York, the US and worldwide. But there has been a huge increase in interest for financial technology, and I think many of our founders have been able to spot the opportunities and pivot or adapt.
What advice do you have for startups?
Every founder today has the responsibility to re-evaluate their current business plan, their team structure and understand how they need to adjust for today's environment. While there remain many unknowns, founders can act on some certainties today.
And the beauty of being a small startup is that you can be agile. You have the ability to think on your feet and to adjust quickly. The startups that are going to come out of this better and stronger are the startups that didn't hold on to a reality that doesn't exist anymore and quickly pivoted to be relevant for today's environment.
How is Rise getting ready to re-open?
We have completely transformed the way Rise is set up. We have kept all the parts of Rise our members expect to see, making sure they can enjoy the space while still being compliant with all national health regulations. Our space is built with flexible work stations.
We’ve done the same with setting the space up in the time of Covid-19. Founders can rest assured when they show up that all of their needs are taken care of—from PPE (where necessary) to social distancing, hand sanitation stations, HVAC filtering systems, and reduced capacity.
What about the digital side of things?
During the time our community has worked remotely, we have seen the importance of a digital community and have worked hard to make sure our top features were all made digital. We will continue our digital/physical hybrid model with our community even once we reopen the site.
How has Rise supported startups through the pandemic?
First, we made a general health assessment to make sure our founders were safe. Second, we made sure they had all the immediate resources they needed. And Rise also paused all membership payments for our community worldwide, so that founders could prioritise their funds for more pressing issues.
Beyond survival, we’re looking at how we can make sure our companies thrive, which we’re doing so on a case-by-case basis.