Posted: July 1, 2020
As the pandemic continues to impact our industry and the world, we’ve worked closely with our portfolio companies to help them adapt to the new reality. As we’ve supported these teams, we’ve observed some overarching trends that hold true across sectors.
COMPANIES THAT HAVE THE MEANS ARE HELPING THE COMMUNITY, WHILE ALSO STRENGHTENING THEIR BRANDS
During this pandemic we’re proud to see how companies are helping the communities that they operate in – and leveraging their products and services to give back in unique and authentic ways. Paranoid Fan took its expertise in food delivery from working with venues to create a new platform, Nepjun, to easily connect people in need to available supplies at local food banks. In only a few weeks, Nepjun rolled out its technology to food banks across NYC and is delivering thousands of meals a day to vulnerable New Yorkers. San Diego based Wave Soda is helping local health workers stay “politely caffeinated,” by donating up to 20,000 cans to the Scripps healthcare system and Mercy Naval Ship.
SOSV, the house of accelerators, has startups actively working on solutions to tackle the crisis, including anti-viral therapeutics, cleansing robots, and vaccination technologies. Additionally, IndieBio, SOSV’s life sciences incubator, has opened applications to select eight startups focused on developing solutions to the emerging infectious diseases; the focus is on biotech, as well as on computing, automation, or any other technology that can address the problem; selected companies will receive $250k+ in funding.
Catalant, a software-as-a-service platform, is waiving all standard fees to qualified 501(c)(3) companies battling COVID-19 on the front lines. They partnered with Harvard Business School’s COVID-19 task force to help match organizations and businesses in need with MBA students who can offer their skills and expertise. They’ve also been offering free webinars and helping companies adjust to remote working.
COVID-19 IS ACCELERATING THE NEED FOR DISRUPTIVE SOLUTIONS, ESPECIALLY AUTOMATION; RISKY IDEAS THAT WERE ON A 5-YEAR HORIZON ARE NOW SOLUTIONS FOR URGENT PROBLEMS
Last mile delivery has been a logistics pain point for many years – and now the need is even greater as more and more people stay at home.
Delivery robots used to be a futuristic prediction – one that has quickly turned into reality. Starship Technologies partnered with local grocers to leverage their robots to deliver groceries to local community members that couldn’t go to the store. These delivery robots have been deployed to communities in Maryland, Virginia, Arizona and Wisconsin to address an increased need for contact-less grocery delivery during the pandemic. In Colombia, Rappi has deployed robots to deliver food in Medellin until July. Grocery stores are also struggling to keep shelves stocked as demand increases.
Pensa Systems, a retail inventory visibility solution, has seen on-shelf availability (OSA) drop to as low as 60% for inventory like cereal. Pensa’s technology provides real-time visibility into on shelf availability, allowing for faster supply chain and shelf management decisions. More importantly – the system delivers robust shelf data to retail store managers to help them reduce out of stocks on the store floor.
REAL TIME INFORMATION IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER
COVID-19 is adding new complexity to the supply chain, creating a greater need for flexibility to meet increased demand. Leaf Logistics is an example of company addressing this uncertainty, which creates forward-looking pricing contracts, helping shippers track shipments and manage wildly fluctuating pricing amid the demand spike.
The medical industry is also facing its own challenges with medical supply chain visibility and integrity. BanQu, a blockchain-as-a-service software company, has configured their platform to enable medical supply chains to fully track and trace from factory to patient. Ashish Gadnis, CEO of BanQu also said they “have adapted their blockchain solution to provide blockchain immutability and proof of transaction to enable banks/ relief funds to use our platform for relief payments confirmation & fraud reduction.”
CONSUMERS WANT HEALTH AND CONVENIENCE. NIMBLE COMPANIES THAT ACT FAST ARE ADDRESING THIS NEED
On the beverage side, all of our portfolio companies are accelerating their direct to consumer (DTC) exposure, in a time where digital engagement is up, and consumers are spending more time on social; numbers are promising, especially for those with a focus in health, and immunity in particular.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, DAVID BASSANI
David Bassani is the Global Director of Strategy & Finance for ZX Ventures, the global growth and innovation group of Anheuser-Busch InBev. In this role he oversees the investment strategy for ZX’s VC funds. Prior to taking on his current role in June 2019, David was the global manager of strategy and finance for ZX Ventures’ explore group. Before joining ZX Ventures in 2017, David held roles at Deloitte Consulting and Virtus Partners in Spain, Chile and Colombia. David has a Master of Business Administration from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Master of Science in International Management from ESADE Business & Law School and a Bachelor of Science in economics and finance from Università Commerciale ‘Luigi Bocconi.’