Starting a Business in a Pandemic

U-Visit is a young business – in fact it was conceived, designed and built in a pandemic.  Here we ask our co-founder, Mark Smalls, about the benefits and challenges of starting a business in a pandemic.

So what prompted you to start a business in a pandemic?

The one thing that Covid-19 has done is forced many businesses to accelerate their transformation to digital ways of working.  People have said that the NHS achieved more in terms of digital transformation in 3 months than they would typically manage in 3 years.  Across business and government we have seen a constant stream of innovation as they have adapted to the new normal.  There is an appetite to invest in digital solutions so it looked like a good time.

What have the main challenges been?

Our two biggest challenges have been around communication – more in terms of working out our strategy and roadmap and the constantly changing restrictions and lockdown timetable:

  • Normally myself and my fellow co-founder, Mark Salisbury would get in a meeting room, white board ideas, risks, next steps etc and solidify our plans.  That’s really difficult to do when all the meeting rooms have been closed!  So we found ourselves on phone calls, video conferences, taking photos of whiteboards, sending random thoughts and Whatsapp in the middle of the night …. Overall, the process was not quite as efficient as a face to face session but we got there in the end!
  • We were gearing up for product launch just before the second lockdown was implemented – then 6 weeks later a third lockdown was implemented.  It was frustrating putting our plans on hold but launching our first product, a digital Visitor Management Solution is a pointless thing to do when businesses do not have any visitors!  So as a company, we targeted a February 2021 launch with a specific set of sectors targeted as restrictions eased

How have you found working during a pandemic?

We were all experienced with remote working before the pandemic hit so co-ordinating development, marketing sales and finance activities has gone relatively smoothly.  The team behind U-Visit includes people in Dubai, Slovakia, Spain and different locations in the UK.  Communications have been important – whether it’s the regular Teams calls for the UK team or the calls to others across the world it has all worked well!

In the UK, the end of restrictions are in sight. What are your plans?

We expect that most businesses will be cautious about returning to work and there is no guarantee right now that there will not be another winter wave of COVID.  So we are now focussing on accelerating our marketing and sales effort, understanding how we can improve our current product and development of our second product.  We have just revamped the website and our focussing on the back to the office drive we expect to see in Q3 and Q4 this year.  We are excited to be developing a second product and expect it to be available in Q3 this year.  Watch this space for more news nearer the time!

We are expecting a busy 12 months but have a strong belief in the foundations of the business we are building!

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