Boardroom briefing: pandemic start-ups, marketing in a crisis and new WhatsApp payment system


Starting a business during the pandemic, the right marketing message for the times and WhatsApp launches a new ecommerce product. Readings from around the world on business, leadership and management.

Start-ups in a pandemic


Many entrepreneurs have launched their business during the COVID-19 pandemic. Credit: Antler

Starting a business can be brave enough, but what about kicking off your new enterprise during a pandemic?

A dozen international businesses did just that, with the help of business incubator Antler, and they’ve shared their experiences.

Positives included less time used up in commuting, less competitive threats as businesses went back to basics, and a lot talent in the job market as a result of COVID-19 layoffs.

For Nathan Olivieri, creator of RightPaw, an app to connect dog breeders with potential customers, it meant rethinking things.

‘Starting a business in  a pandemic means all your previous assumptions need to be re-assessed, to see if they still hold water,’ he said. ‘Some aspects will inevitably change, but for RightPaw it was about trying to respond to the new market dynamics that have opened up.’

Marketing in a time of crisis

Phire Group

Authenticity and vulnerability can help you grow your brand during a time of crisis. Credit: Phire Group

A pandemic can make it hard to know what sort of marketing message to put out too, with many small firms simply opting to keep quiet for fear of making a mistake.

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Forbes has interviewed three companies about how to handle marketing during the time of uncertainty and how to spruik your brand to an audience that is on the lookout for people who might take advantage of tough times.

For Jim Hume, Founder of the advertising agency Phire Group, the important thing it to be clear and be honest. ‘True authenticity includes vulnerability and putting yourself out there and just becoming more human as a brand,’ Hume said. ‘Everything that we do has to be pointed toward making companies, organisations and brands more human, more accessible, more real.’

New ecommerce player

WhatsApp payment system

Credit: WhatsApp

With ecommerce a hot topic in Papua New Guinea – including a Business Advantage PNG online business briefing tomorrow – Facebook has officially launched new WhatsApp payments system around the world.

The system is rolling out in Brazil and, according to the BBC, the tech giant is set to make the new service available in India, Indonesia and Mexico. WhatsApp Pay allows users to send money to one another for free or make purchases from small businesses.

Facebook bought WhatsApp for about $20 billion in 2014. In February, the messaging service said it had more than 2 billion users around the world. With one study suggesting WhatsApp was the most popular video messaging app in PNG during the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be interesting to observe how our local entrepreneurs take to the new system.

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