Start-ups in a time of crisis: the real impact of the pandemic on early-stage businesses

Watch the full recorded broadcast above.

For start-up businesses to be successful, they need to be able to shift quickly and adapt to an ever-changing business environment. Yet lockdown measures meant to lessen the spread of COVID-19 have amplified the unpredictability of the start-up experience and threatened the existence of many innovative start-ups.  

On Thursday, December 3 we were joined by Ray Sharma, HBA ’96, Founding Partner & CEO, Extreme Venture Partners; Candice Faktor, HBA ’00, Managing Partner,; and Mark Vandenbosch, Professor, The Ivey Academy, and former Acting Dean of the Ivey Business School. Together they examined the importance of start-ups to the Canadian economy and how the pandemic has further increased their importance. They also looked at the impact on start-ups themselves: the way they’re funded, managed, and growing, and the role start-ups can play in Canada’s economic recovery.

Key webinar content

Core topics

  • A contemporary definition of start-ups
  • Essential skills and attributes needed to operate in the current environment
  • Start-ups as economic drivers
  • How entrepreneurs can find opportunity within chaotic environments
  • Shifts and trends that have resulted from the pandemic
  • The impact start-ups have on society
  • The impact of COVID-19 on financing for start-ups and inequalities inherent in the current climate
  • The role government policy can play in supporting and accelerating the start-up community
  • Developing a start-up plan and what to look for when scanning the business environment
  • Mega trends to pay attention to

Memorable quotes

“We often associate purpose with lofty goals but purpose is something that you really have to have a great definition for if you want to get people to back your idea. Purpose allows people to build organizations that are much more flexible. If you think about how start-ups are often created, it’s based on the notion of flexibility. They have flexible financing, flexible structures – all of which can adapt to situations … that’s really what you need in a crisis like this.” – Mark Vandenbosch

“Chaotic environments are ones where entrepreneurs find opportunity. When things get shifted, old habits break. All of a sudden, things that people would not consider, people are now considering.” – Candice Faktor, HBA ‘00

“The way relate has changed. Being on top of your team from a mental health perspective is super critical. Are they working too much? Are they getting enough exercise? These are things we didn’t normally think about because they would come out (organically) in conversation. It doesn’t make sense the way we treat mental health vs. physical health … we’ve got to start realizing the importance of mental health. I hope we have a lot of innovation in mental health in 2021.” – Ray Sharma, HBA ‘96

Additional reading

From Surviving to Thriving: Why Canada must do more for its start-ups and scale-ups in crisis, Brookfield Institute
Canadian VC & PE market overview – Q3 2020,
A lesson from Canada: Startups can lead the economic recovery, VentureBeat
Digital Transformation Through COVID-19 and How Venture Capitalists Can Be Catalysts for Change,


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About The Ivey Academy at Ivey Business School
The Ivey Academy at Ivey Business School is the home for executive Learning and Development (L&D) in Canada. It is Canada’s only full-service L&D house, blending Financial Times top-ranked university-based executive education with talent assessment, instructional design and strategy, and behaviour change sustainment. 

Rooted in Ivey Business School’s real-world leadership approach, The Ivey Academy is a place where professionals come to get better, to break old habits and establish new ones, to practice, to change, to obtain coaching and support, and to join a powerful peer network. Follow The Ivey Academy on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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