Demium’s ‘Virtual Business Incubator’ to Support Startups During Covid-19

In a period of unprecedented uncertainty for businesses around the world, the leading European talent investor and startup builder Demium has moved seamlessly to a virtual business model in locations where home working is now mandated (including Greece, Poland, Portugal, and Spain), to ensure its startup entrepreneurs don’t just pull through the COVID-19 pandemic, but emerge from the crisis with stronger, more successful businesses.

Over the last six months, Demium has been developing an online incubator programme in a number of its locations, having identified the benefits of having more remote working tools for entrepreneurs in place. This has meant that the business has been able react quickly to the requirement for people to work from home, with minimal interruption to the life and work of every startup featuring in its programme, while also allowing them to target talent from a far wider base than was previously possible.

Grzegorz Mottl, Managing Director of Demium Warsaw, said: “Coronavirus is forcing us all to reappraise how we work. Here at Demium we believe the European startup ecosystem is exceptionally well placed to absorb, and adapt to, the challenges we are facing. In Warsaw, we’ve been trialling an online incubator platform and we are amazed by just how effective a tool it is proving to be for communicating with and mentoring entrepreneurs. In fact, it has enabled people to join the programme who wouldn’t have been able to do so in a face-to-face format.”

Demium’s programme of best practice for remote working enables and empowers incubators to communicate with their startups through a structured series of online workshops and mentoring group meetings. This includes meetings like ‘Start the week together’ on a Monday morning, and regular ‘coffee chats’ designed to help startups bounce ideas off mentors and fellow entrepreneurs. To maintain the social vibe of the incubator, Demium is also hosting online workout programmes and yoga sessions, open to all who want to join.

The response from the startups has been overwhelmingly positive, and incubators have, to their surprise, seen higher attendance rates at workshops, as the programme has facilitated more flexible working for participants because no work is lost in commute time and home-working significantly reduces the risk of exposure to Coronavirus carriers. In Madrid, attendance has increased by around 80% from the average pre-crisis level for some of the workshops, showing that entrepreneurs require the support of the incubator more than ever during this pandemic. The programme is running smoothly, and the feedback has been that it allows entrepreneurs to feel as if they continue to have the same motivation and encouragement from mentors, which they are finding particularly valuable at this time.

Jorge Velasco, Managing Director of Demium Madrid, said: “We have been delighted by the response of the startups in our programme to the changes in the way in which we are all now having to work. Entrepreneurs within the Demium family have always been resilient and strong, and remain as motivated as ever – possibly, even more driven – to set up successful and sustainable new businesses.”

Maxime Chanson, Head of Incubation at Demium Lisbon, said “It may be early days in the crisis, but we have been astonished and humbled by how Demium-supported entrepreneurs are viewing these testing times as a real opportunity, confident in the knowledge that they can always rely on the incubator’s expertise and support”.

Besides adjusting its programme to suit the needs of existing participants, Demium has also re-engineered the way in which its acquisition process works: in Athens, on 20 March 2020, 26 candidates will participate in Demium’s first ever virtual AllStartUp weekend, its trademark talent acquisition event. The process has been adjusted to allow every element to take place online, including speed dating between the participants to build founder teams.