Representatives of the startup community shared their experiences of working in a time of pandemic, their expectations and challenges for 2021. As part of the third #FITD CLASSROOM, included in the new webinar initiative of the Fund for Innovation and Technology Development, debated representatives of companies that are part of the FITD family - Milan Dimitrijevikj from the X Factor accelerator from Veles, Vesna Kuzmanovikj, founder of Impala, Ilija Jovanovski, co-founder of Prime Aps, Dashmir Istrefi co-founder of Hojo Tek, as well as Nina Nikolikj from Startup Macedonia and Ivana Stankovikj from FITD.
According to the participants, the crisis caused by the Covid pandemic took its toll on the economy and business but also made them adapt and look for new opportunities and solutions to put up with the challenges. The biggest problems they faced were the realization of the set goals and plans, the inability to establish new business relations, as well as the financial sustainability and the inflow of funds
"In 2020 we learned 3 important lessons: the most important thing is to survive, as an individual and as a company, that cloud technology is resistant to pandemic, but that sales in the enterprise sector is not " said Ilija Jovanoski from PrimeAps. The main challenge of this company was the realization of the planned expansion of the existing and new markets, and the delay affected the planned increase of the team and improvement of the solution they are working on. They overcame the problems with hyper-optimization of the work, full commitment to the existing clients and satisfaction of their requirements above expectations.
Many investors and startups were scared of the crisis and withdrew, says Milan Dimitrijevikj from the X Factor accelerator. However, they also quickly adapted to the new situation by using new online tools.
"The new situation has made it easier for us to evaluate the brave and those who truly believe in themselves. The startups we have invested in, have started establishing business contacts online. "The procurement is still difficult, but we are aware of the situation and we anticipate the delay and the expectations are adjusted according to the difficult conditions," said Dimitrijevikj.
The pandemic has also contributed to faster digitalization in the economy, resulting in growth of the Impala company, which offers digital tools and solutions. However, a major problem they faced was cash flow which has a huge impact on liquidity. Owner Vesna Kuzmanovikj says that the next year will not be easier, but through mutual cooperation it will be possible to overcome the challenges of the market.
"The characteristic of all companies, especially startups, is the courage to face the challenge directly as something that enables growth and progress. We need more cooperation and networking. Projects such as the transformation of Startup Village announced by FITD will help us all to exchange services and experiences and work on upgrading existing ones and developing new solutions. "We are anticipating a difficult year, but I am convinced that there will be many opportunities that need to be used," said Kuzmanovikj.
Representatives of startups expect that the pressure of the pandemic will weaken in the second half of 2021 but do not expect the return of the old way of working. Everyone is aware that in order to survive and thrive in business, they must adapt to the new situation. Based on the lessons learned from 2020, however, everyone is optimistic that with bold moves and flexibility in work, the next 2021 can only get better.