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Finding the positives in a pandemic

By Antoine Poirson

One of the many effects of Covid-19 has been to accelerate a lot of change that was already underway—the transition to a cashless society, for example—yet, throughout this period there has also been the growing realisation that many other aspects of our lives need updating and digitising. So, it may not be surprising to learn that at Antler, where we enable and invest in early stage startups, we have never been busier.

Much of this need to adapt and innovate is being enabled by technology. Whether it be adjusting to working in a virtual setting, maintaining productivity despite scaled down operations, or enforced travel restrictions, technology is enabling new ways of building businesses, developing relationships with clients and establishing new trust protocols between colleagues and organisations. Additionally, the large scale movement to working from home is likely to mean changes in consumption patterns, which will in turn create new demand for e-commerce solutions or consumer products.

Technology is playing a significant role in fixing some of the world's most pressing problems. Traditional industries must innovate to survive, and entrepreneurs can drive this process. At Antler, we help build technology-enabled companies that are laser focused on tackling these challenges. Every year, Antler helps brilliant and determined people to find co-founders, build their business, and attract investment. Antler is now running founder programmes in 14 countries globally, and working with thousands of exceptional entrepreneurs every year. Working with so many founders at such an early stage offers a unique and privileged position as an observer of future trends and disruption.

As one of the most dynamic start-up ecosystems in Europe, London has continued to see high levels of activity from top founders and investors. Since the onset of the pandemic, Antler’s UK fund has already invested in seven new companies, and our earlier investments have attracted more than £5 million ($6.5 million) in capital. 

These companies cover a range of industries, from fintech to computer vision to beauty-tech. London-based founders are responding positively, and innovating in every industry and sector. 

One such example is Blueheart (pictured above)—a digital sex therapy app. As we head into the latter part of the year, scientists are stressing the key role that mental well-being will play as we potentially head into a cycle of lockdowns and isolation. Blueheart has now seen substantial growth, as demand for remote access to therapy sharply increases. The pandemic has seemingly created a new market for people who need access to well-being services and therapy from home. In July, Blueheart raised £1 million ($1.3 million) that will fuel product development and team expansion. 

This trend is not just limited to the new world of apps. In the very traditional ready-mix-concrete industry, portfolio company Cloud Cycle recently raised £2.1 million ($2.7 million) to accelerate their product development—a product which enables construction businesses to precisely control the quality of the concrete that they use, which in turn unlocks major cost savings.

When times are tough and markets become extremely competitive, the best businesses look to stay at the top of the efficiency curve. Early-stage entrepreneurs can build this into their products from day one—generating the most out of scarce resources, with no legacy to hold them back. With this in mind, entrepreneurship and innovation play a vital role in long term employment growth and the recovery of our economies.

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