How Covid-19 is impacting startup application trends

By Marwan Elfitesse, Head of Startup Programs at STATION F

How are startups going during the Covid-19 crisis? You probably already know that STATION F is closed, however that doesn’t mean everything must come to a standstill. For example, STATION F’s in-house Founders Program (more on the program here and here) applications procedure remains more or less unchanged, meaning applicants for July had to apply by April 5. 


Procedure unchanged, just more flexibility


While the review process is still undergoing (everything is still to play for!), we wanted to share some of the differences we are observing with these applications with regards to previous batches.

 When we say the procedure is more or less unchanged, this means we have the same target: attract early-stage startups with big ambitions -, in two rounds (online application & video. We also have the same mantra: a program where resources come from entrepreneurs and… where applications are assessed by established entrepreneurs from our Selection Board

Keeping the same dates for the applications is a challenge with the ongoing crisis but feedbacks for the first round will be shared on April 23rd and final selection results on early June as planned. 


A little less, but better applications


For each new batch, we receive a lot of applications (thank you!). This time we have only slightly lower than what we have seen before. However, it’s interesting to see that the quality of the applications we received is largely improved. We see higher milestones in short amount of time like advanced MVPs, roadmaps that fit with current events, impressive founders backgrounds etc..


Despite the travel ban in force in many countries, we’ve also received a lot of international applications (hey United Arab Emirates, Latvia and Belarus applicants, welcome!). One question remains: their ability to match their 2020 revenue forecast, which will be undoubtedly a major challenge. 


Opportunities and trends of a new era


With the Covid-19 crisis, we’re entering in a new era, developing new habits (some of these shifts will continue on), new ways “we internet” making tech & digital even more central. Startups are not out of the way. Many of our applicants were already foreseeing this new world with solutions that are incredibly adapted to the post-confinement world. 

Here’s a look at the trends we’re having in the applications for this batch:

Being productive anywhere, anytime. Every company, even “conservatives” ones, should be able to move away from physical offices and consider remote working, while making efficiency at the core. It goes from employees collaboration and project management, to a new sales organization to detect online buying signals. This also implies a new way to manage IT and software stack, relying more and more on cloud infrastructures (product roadmap management, devops tools etc.). Many startups are taking this path with “productivity” tools and SaaS solutions that is already the most represented sector at STATION F.

Offering a hell of an online retail experience. With the lockdown, we all had to experience different online purchases experiences: consuming online what we used to consume “outside”, facing frustration of not being able to buy from local producers or enduring painful processes. Some of our applicants are offering solutions to “feel” the product while being seated comfortably on your home sofa. They are working hard to enhance dramatically your experience or to tackle supply chain issues predicting quality defects on the product lines. Some are also offering solutions for more transparency, pushing local producers to go digital or giving more information on what you’re about to buy. 

– Providing health support at scale. While work in remote is booming, isolation is following the same path and impact employees moral and mental health. Many companies are attempting to address this day-to-day wellbeing challenge in one way (online sport or yoga courses) or another (mindcare through nutrition). Beyond the corporate world, empowering healthcare professionals, giving online access to care, drugs and development of new medicines are major trends we spot with more and more applicants coming from a research and academic background.


Looking for connection and entertainment. With less commutes and more productive online meetings, many of us will gain additional time and will use it for additional working hours (too bad), learning (even better) or entertaining (hell yeah). “Netflixing” is not the only solution. Some of our applicants are working on training and personal development, fun interactive connections or a way to visit real exhibitions in VR.

Having an impact on major issues. Disasters are also questioning our core beliefs and the meaning and the impact of our actions. Many entrepreneurs in this seventh batch are tackling issues such as car pollution, aquatic ecosystems protection, access to water, battery research etc. 


To a new startup ecosystem?


If you have a look at the trends of this batch, all of them are – in different ways – impacting our society in a positive way, whether it’s by improving our daily lives, tackling big society issues or trying to preserve the earth. We should hope this is a durable trends as we will definitely need to build an even more durable startup ecosystem in the coming months.

Applicants, as mentioned, dates remain unchanged – keep an eye on your inbox if you applied. If you have any questions regarding the current selection process or any program at STATION F, please email us at [email protected]. We are going to be looking for recession-proof businesses. Can’t wait to share more details once the selection will be done, take care in the meantime.