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April 03, 2020 | Tom Ballard

Tony Lettich says to expect “more conservative, focused, disciplined approaches” from angels and VCs

(EDITOR’S NOTE: We contacted several of the angel and venture investors in the region to get their thoughts on how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting their activities and their portfolio companies. The first article in the series reflected the thoughts of Ken Woody, President and Partner at Innova Memphis (click here). Today, we publish the response from Tony Lettich, Managing Director of The Angel Roundtable.)

  • How has the COVID-19 pandemic and the corresponding turbulence in financial markets changed the angel and venture world in general, particularly as it relates to new deals? The duration of the outbreak and resulting “Essential Services/Work from Home Economy” will ultimately determine the depth of impact on the VC world. Once the uncertainty begins to dissipate and a reasonable path forward is identified to resolve these two issues, people will work even harder to provide solutions and move forward. Until that time, we expect volatility and more conservative, focused, disciplined approaches from all involved.
  • How has the COVID-19 issue impacted your operation? I’m assuming that tools like Zoom, etc., have become your friend. ART sources investment opportunities from Tennessee, the Southeast and across the country. As such, we utilize various videoconferencing tools such as Zoom, Go to Meeting, and other tools such as Drop Box, Trello, DocuSign and Doodle and continually look for others which make our processes more efficient. Their use has facilitated our ability to continue operations without serious interruption.
  • From the perspective of your portfolio companies as a group, what sort of impacts are you seeing on their operations? Business is volatile, additionally, some are being affected negatively while others are actually seeing increasing interest due to their offerings.
  • What, if any, advice would you offer entrepreneurs right now? Assess the implications of the macro environment and how it affects every part of your operations. Preserve cash; be prepared for the worst case to the extent possible, but continue pressing forward with your business in a safe, focused and highly disciplined manner. Take care of your team to the best of your firm’s ability as they are your future, and remember they look to you for direction. Be optimistic but realistic and honest with them. Expect Murphy’s Law to find you, and be as prepared as possible to deal with it.

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