Everyone knows that the global pandemic has either shut down business doors or having to adapt to the ‘new normal’. We sat down with Andrea Böhmert, Co-Managing Partner at Knife Capital to gain her perspective a little more.
Böhmert is a Venture Capitalist in South Africa, and she is a German descendant. The first thing first is to get to know her a bit; she alludes “when I was finishing off university, I would have giggled. Firstly, as I was living in Germany, South Africa was definitely not a place I ever thought about.
"It does show that life is unpredictable. It was an internship that brought me from Germany to South Africa. And not taking no for an answer got me into Venture Capital. Venture Capital is about growing companies and working with amazing entrepreneurs. South Africa is a country with so much opportunity. I am not having any regrets where life has taken me — I do belong."
We dig the conversation deeper by getting Böhmert’s thoughts on the opportunities that lie within the entrepreneurship ecosystem during the pandemic, and she believes that opportunities are plenty — executing on them is the real challenge. According to Böhmert, “many entrepreneurs see the gap in the market and the opportunity it presents. But to execute on these opportunities you need to have a sound business platform. You need to have the right people and processes in place to scale.”
Opportunities presented are endless. Böhmert advised entrepreneurs by saying: “having met hundreds of entrepreneurs over the last few years, many had identified real opportunities but only a few managed to take advantage of it. Often, lack of access to capital was blamed. But funding is only one component. Building a business where all building blocks are in place so that money can help you to accelerate and is not spent putting these building blocks in place. As an investor, we never expect businesses to have all of it in place, but the more solid the business, the better the chance of accelerating.”
A quote by Ryan Reynolds says, “Any kind of crisis can be good. It wakes you up.” While these are hard times for entrepreneurs Böhmert believes that, there is definitely some positive that comes with the “new normal”. COVID-19 is forcing us to reset all previous assumptions. It requires creative thinking. How often have we all said, “I wish I could start all over again with the knowledge I have today”? While COVID-19 doesn’t really allow us to start all over again, it does allow us to break with the old, look at new market trends, and adjust the business to take advantage of the new opportunities. As an investor, we are looking for entrepreneurs who approach us with an understanding of the new. Your “old” business plan from January this year is not going to be relevant anymore.
In conclusion, Böhmert shares that: “some industries will certainly have to change. Adjustments to the business model will be necessary — but in this lies the opportunity. Supply Chain and Automation, Remote Working and Collaboration Tools, Autonomous Manufacturing are definitely more than ever top of mind of Executives having to come up with a plan to be prepared for future pandemics. So it is not about survival, it is about adjustment.”
"Future proof is a big ask. But any business with solid building blocks in marketing, sales, finance, people, processes, technology and most importantly leadership and culture can adjust to change. That doesn’t mean that no sacrifices are required. My advice therefore would be to get your business fundamentals right. And if 2020 is a “holding pattern” year for you, spend it focusing on exactly that."