Tell us a little about how you and your company reacted to the corona situation?
At Kayzen, we had already pursued a policy of unlimited home office before the pandemic. Since we have a globally distributed team (currently our almost 30 team members are distributed across Argentina, Berlin, Tel Aviv, and Bangalore) our team is used to work from home.
The first thing we did in response to Covid-19 was to strongly encourage the home office for everyone but not to make it an obligation. This was around the 12th of March. Around the 20th of March, we introduced a mandatory home office for the entire team. Only a few days later, the Indian Government (half of our team is located in India) established a mandatory shut down of the entire country, and hence our team there is "entirely locked at home" since around the 24th of April.
At this point, it was also obvious that all business travel had to be canceled. I personally had planned two trips for later in March, one to San Francisco and one to Tel Aviv, which both didn't take place.
After we had digested the first weeks of "Corona craze" we came together as a team over a zoom call to think how we can contribute positively - outside of our normal course of business - to help fight the spreading of the pandemic. As a result, a charity initiative was born that we are spearheading, #AppsFightCovid. We have been able to collect money from both companies and individuals to push this charity further and are thankful for anyone who wants to donate. With only 5 USD we can reach more than 5000 more people in developing countries.
What was driving the decision to act this way?
In mid-March, it became clear that drastic measures had to be taken almost everywhere to prevent spreading the virus. The health and wellbeing of our team and our partners is of enormous importance because it is people who make a start-up like ours successful. Since our business is purely digital - we have no operations that require the physical presence of people in a particular location - it was not a difficult decision to implement particular measures.
How did the decision-making process differ from "business as usual"?
We are a relatively small company, hence our decision-making process is rather informal. We did monitor the situation closely across the different countries where our team members are located and re-discuss our position about twice per week.
I am also lucky to have a strong professional network of friends and business partners who are all fellow entrepreneurs. I do stay in regular touch with them to understand what other companies are doing and how they assess the situation.
What do you personally learn from this experience?
I think the most obvious one is that a lot of things we take for granted in our day to day lives aren't as safe as we believe them to be. This crisis has taught us how vulnerable our modern economies and societies are.
But it has also been a good stress test for many of us, and I believe we are growing with our challenges. I am particularly proud of the Kayzen team, which has done a fantastic job to keep work culture and productivity up to the highest level during this crisis, despite the difficult working conditions. About half of our employees have (young) kids at home, and I can only imagine what an additional pressure lasts on their shoulders now, although I don’t have any kids.
What is your message to business leaders who are experiencing difficulties at the moment?
As for any crisis, stay calm and think positively. Even if your business is severely affected by this crisis, there will always be light somewhere at the end of the tunnel and new solutions will emerge. Keep your eyes open for the positive things and get creative on how you can ease the pain or maybe even find new business opportunities.
Who should we interview next?
Paul Hadrossek from Kinderheldin. They are doing some fantastic things for young families these days providing remote (digital) midwives to support them.