Resilience, safety, and creativity: Our response to the COVID-19 outbreak

With the world facing a health crisis surrounding the Novel Coronavirus, it’s clear that events of all stripes are going to have an unusual year. But survival favours those who can adapt. So here’s how we’re adapting.

Our primary concern is the safety of our global community, our speakers, and our team. With that in mind, we’re watching the science and making fact-based decisions about how best to act under rapidly changing conditions. We’ve already cancelled upcoming regional events in San Francisco and London—and we’re taking a hard look at what July might bring. Most scientists agree that the epidemic will bring sweeping changes to everyday life, and we need to be prepared.

We are not currently expecting to run a large scale Startupfest July 15-17 as you have come to know and love it, but we want you to know that Startupfest, in some form, will happen this year. It may be virtual, or regional. While it would be far simpler to just postpone Startupfest, we have an obligation to help startups and founders survive the coming economic downturn. With our decade-long network of seasoned founders and investors, we have access to vital content and want to get that in front of early-stage companies. For years, Startupfest has found creative ways to deliver great content, engineer unexpected introductions, and connect founders to the resources they need to grow their business. We’ve had startups pitching in some of the world’s most iconic elevators; devised new formats like Circlesquare and Chain Reaction; brought together an outstanding panel of Grandmother Judges; assembled our very own fleet of boats, and more.

In short: We love finding creative, unexpected solutions to challenging problems.

Our response to this crisis will be no different: We’ll support startups and their executives with resources that help them survive the coming economic downturn while following the latest science on health and safety.

We’re taking the next few days to finalize our contingency plans, but we want to reassure all attendees that we’ll work to make their involvement as safe as possible, no matter what we do. We also think this is an amazing opportunity to reinvent how we get content, connections, and resources to startups—whether through online events, safe regional meetups, or other mechanisms.

Behind all this is resilience. Resilience means safety and preparation, but also opportunity to adapt and evolve. It’s not enough to say, “stay home.” We have lots to offer, and can deliver real value when it matters most to the startup communities throughout Canada. With that in mind, we’re considering plans to bring Startupfest to regions across the country. Expect to see us—live or virtually—in a community near you in the coming months.

If you aren’t already, follow us @startupfest and subscribe to our mailing list for the latest updates.