What are your biggest business concerns surrounding COVID-19?
Like many businesses, we have had to make some changes since the onset of COVID-19. I think that as a community, COVID has helped businesses grow in many ways, if not necessarily in sales. For example, I have a greater empathy for my colleagues and peers at Larq, and stress helps to hone our creative minds. Demand for products like ours has certainly risen, meanwhile our manufacturing and supply chain has faced challenges in the new environment. Fortunately, our customers have been very supportive and understanding of the delays, and we do our best to keep a clear and honest communication channel open to them for any concerns.
What is your current business strategy for dealing with the situation?
Our business has been doubling since the launch, and though we have had to make some changes to our plans for the year (mainly event attendance), we are still able to do what we do best: deliver accessible, self-cleaning hydration options that allow for a healthier more sustainable choice. In January, we had a plan for the year ahead. Naturally, we have had to shift some of our priorities, but we have been able to move those resources to other places, for example, expanding globally, to help more people get access to self-cleaning water bottles. We were already in demand before the crisis, and now we have the ability to give back to the community through donations and partnerships like 1% for the Planet, which is really fantastic.
How do you think things will look in your industry a year from now?
A year from now, I think we will still be seeing the aftershocks of COVID-19, and likely a newly heightened awareness of health and hygiene. I encourage my peers to think ahead, to think strategically, and like a consumer. We have the opportunity to change a lot of status quo in consumer products right now, delays and challenges in manufacturing aside. In our time spent at home, we need to rethink everything for the better. People say that this may be the “new norm” and we need to plan for that in our consumer products. The past “norm” is no longer relevant for today’s world, and we all need to help create a future where we thrive.
While it is very true that “no good crisis should go to waste,” I think it’s equally true that teams should keep their mission and vision focused on the long-term goal as a beacon to navigate choppy waters.
What have you learned from other difficult times in the past?
I think startups are especially susceptible to external shocks to our economy and society—sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. I think it is more important than ever to understand the company and team’s mission and vision during times of crisis to help the team and company navigate choppy waters. While startups should be highly agile and adaptable to changes in the overall customer landscape and changing consumer needs, I think it’s also important to not pivot too quickly and jump at every would-be opportunity that sometimes can emerge from a crisis.
While it is very true that “no good crisis should go to waste,” I think it’s equally true that teams should keep their mission and vision focused on the long-term goal as a beacon to navigate choppy waters. Sometimes, pivoting too quickly can mean you lose your core identity with your customer and your mission on the other side of a crisis.
Safe–and entertained–at home: What business leaders are doing with their downtime
I’m starting my day by walking my dog, drinking tea (I’ve cut out coffee), and meditating. I find having a consistent morning routine is more important than ever for mental health and clarity to start out my day. The reduction in commute has allowed me to find a bit more time for reflection before starting out the day.
The Wire—still just as good 17 years later. Guilty pleasure: Space Force on Netflix.
Waking Up by Sam Harris and A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy.
What are you doing to spend quality time with those you’re sheltering with?
I am using this time to try to pick up new hobbies and positive habits. I have been running about 5 miles every other day but that is being offset by my experimentations in the kitchen (I have been cooking up a mean Texas-style smoked brisket).
My family recently cut out one-use plastic household cleaning items in exchange for more environmentally friendly options as a way to sustainably wipe down surfaces and keep the family healthy. I have also incorporated morning and evening meditation sessions to help sustain mental health during this time.
What are you doing to stay healthy mentally and physically?
Two months ago, I started practicing meditation for 10–20 minutes a day, up to twice a day. Though it can be challenging to find the time, it has helped me in many ways, personally and professionally.
My mind has a tendency to race and wander, especially when stressed, and meditation has trained me to focus. I feel like I am more productive now, able to focus on what actually drives change and impact in the organization.
Mental acuity and wellness can be so easily neglected in this time of COVID and social tension. This practice and routine helps me, and I empathize with my teammates who may have been having a tough time mentally with the lockdown.
Where are you dreaming of visiting once things are back to normal?
Destinations: Lake Tahoe: It’s my happy place, and where my partner and I got married. We’d love to do the Desolation Wilderness hike, get a pizza and beer at Whitecaps after.
Restaurant/Bar: Lazy Bear in San Francisco. If I am going to dream, might as well dream big.