DEF Startup a good place to be?

Dartmouth Entrepreneurs Forum Week 2 

A Startup Is A Good Place To Be In A Recession

The pandemic has been challenging for businesses in all stages, but entrepreneurial thinking can go a long way in responding to the post-COVID world.

Entrepreneurs have a certain innovative approach to problem-solving and inherent risk tolerance that lets them adapt during these uncertain times, Dartmouth Alums said.

Dartmouth entrepreneurs who are working at start-ups during the pandemic say it’s a challenging but rewarding time to be at a young company.

Speaking during the Dartmouth Entrepreneur’s Forum discussion group titled, “Why A Startup Is A Good Place To Be In A Recession,” Lily He, D’10, said that the pandemic has been a time of huge growth in her role as associate director for mobile and employee cloud at Toast, a cloud-based restaurant software company.

Although the restaurant industry has been arguably the hardest-hit by the pandemic, He has been able to help clients navigate their challenges.

“Its been one of the most rewarding times of my career to feel like I can actually do something to help; something that matters,” she said.

The Dartmouth alumni called in from everywhere from Hanover to Frankfurt, and spanned graduation years from ’82 to ’24. Adam Tong, D’15, Head of Operations at Komodo Health, said the group was the most diverse set of Dartmouth alum’s he’s ever been able to informally converse with. Connections like those in the Dartmouth community are especially important now that the pandemic has changed networking.

“More so than ever were reliant on the networks were part of,” Tong said.

Erika Wool, D ’11, Head of Payments Partnerships at Stripe, a digital payment platform, said that she and her team have been adjusting to large-scale growth during the pandemic.

“We’ve done well in how quickly weve been able to move the company to react and capture new opportunities,” Wool said.

Kevin Niparko, D ’12, works in product at Segment, a customer data platform. He said that his plentiful failures as an entrepreneur have prepared him well for life during a pandemic.

Rachel Moncton, D’ 12 is vice-president of global marketing at ClassPass. The company offers passes to fitness classes, an area that has been hugely impacted by the pandemic.

“We had big plans, but the bulk of this year has been about pivoting and changing objectives as we go,” she said.

David Villagra, D’08, is co-founder of Sighten, Inc. He was heartened to hear that other Dartmouth alums were using the pandemic environment to pursue their startups. He said that living as an entrepreneur was about the best preparation for 2020 that he could have had.

“I’ve seen lots of highs and lows, failures and successes. I felt somewhat prepared for a pandemic coming out of nowhere,” he said.

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