How Do Black Swan Events Affect Early Stage Startups?

In late February, before the virus forced us to adapt to work from home, and just as financial markets took their first big dives, New Ventures Accelerator Director Adrian Smith visited Western NC to scout for promising startups. Asheville has done a great job in recent years of supporting startups, and New Ventures is well positioned to be another resource for founders to leverage as they develop their company, find product market fit, and scale.

In Asheville, like in many smaller markets, startups promise a new path forward in economic development. Their economy currently relies heavily on healthcare, government, and tourism. In fact, tourism supports 27,241 jobs; 15% of the workforce. Today’s reality shows how fragile local economies can be. The tourism industry relies on a healthy economy and the ability to freely travel. Diversifying the economy through startup creation will allow Asheville to adapt to macroeconomic and global health events.

During the trip, Adrian was fortunate to meet Kasem Mohsen, a serial entrepreneur who has settled in Asheville as he builds a new company and looks to support North Carolina’s broad entrepreneurial ecosystem. Over coffee, the two discussed leveraging startup innovation to solve social issues. Kasem has helped to build multiple companies that do just that, whether it was health tech, agtech, or driver safety, his companies have delivered real value and delivered results beyond the bottom line.

These types of companies are important for cities like Asheville and Winston-Salem. When entrepreneurs apply their creativity and passion to environmental and social problems that their communities face, not only can they drive strong revenue, but they also create more resilient, healthier, and happier places to live.

Founders live in a mode of constant adaptation. They adapt to changing markets, technology, and competition. Successful entrepreneurs are great at adaptation, and can often find opportunity when others see only crisis.

When Kasem recently asked for Flywheel’s support as he wrote an article addressing the Coronavirus’ effect on early stage startup capital, we were excited to contribute. For this week’s story of adaptation, take a look at Kasem’s Medium post How Do Black Swan Events Affect Early-Stage Startups?