5 lessons we’ve learned growing a startup during lockdown

9th June 2020
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When Mina started officially last December, we obviously had absolutely no idea that we would be about to embark on growing a business during one of the most economically volatile and socially complicated difficult years in my living memory!  

At first, we took a hot desk in the Kollider incubator, but quickly outgrow that and managed to blag ourselves a store room above a letting agent as our very first office. Thankfully, a quick trip to Ikea to buy a dining room table and a couple of pot plants and our make-shift startup space was ready for liftoff… 

However, as we all know, just a couple of months later the global pandemic soon made our new office obsolete, and we were tasked with moving our workspaces yet again – this time to our homes. Although founders Ash and Chris have worked with high growth businesses, this was a brand new experience – developing a business from the ground up, whilst working entirely remotely! 

Despite this, and in some cases we’re sure because of lockdown, we’ve managed to grow the business. We’re not going to share any spoilers just yet, but we’re working with some great businesses to help their transition to EVs and can’t wait to announce some big news! 

So from a business point of view, what did we learn in lockdown?

  1. Understand your customer and solve a real problem. It’s simple – at Mina we’ve come up with a solution to a real problem that no one else in the market has solved – we allow easy management of fleet home charging costs. Over the next 10 years nearly all fleets will be switching to electric vehicles, so we’ve had some great conversations with companies who are genuinely excited that someone can make this transition easier for them. We love being able to genuinely help people fix the problems they are facing every day. 

  2. Share the load. We have a great team here at Mina that we can count on to bounce ideas off, and who bring a broad background of experiences to the business. We’ve found it important to communicate our preferred ways of working, our strengths and weaknesses and to make sure we know how to support each other as well as our clients and customers. Daily check-ins and remote working apps (see below) make open communication an easy priority, especially in lockdown when anxieties and life juggles are real.

  3. Become a pro at remote working. Obviously everyone is in the same boat here, but this is important especially in a startup where things can be less well defined. Our founders start the day with a call to discuss the plan and agree priorities, and then throughout the day we use Slack, Zoom and Google Meet to keep in touch with the Mina team. We use Trello, Mural (for whiteboarding – works great with an iPad and Apple Pencil) and Google Docs for collaborating on work (we often have multiple people editing the same doc/spreadsheet together at the same time). And of course, lots of phone calls!

  4. Learn to network from a home office. A startup can live or die depending on the strength of their network, but we are happy to say that we have thrived despite everything, thanks to the support and network around us. Organisations and groups like Kollider, North Invest, Sheffield Technology Parks, EV Cafe, Startupscale and many others have introduced us to potential partners, investors and customers. It’s really important to tap into these networks to get your brand talked about. People can be incredibly generous with their time if you put yourself out there.

  5. Build in resilience. It’s not a stretch to predict that if we had started Mina a few months earlier or a few months later maybe we wouldn’t still be here. Thankfully, we’ve kept things lightweight, not overstretched ourselves with fancy office space and used a brilliant time of freelancers to help us grow. As a result, not only do we have the ability to be flexible about where we focus our efforts, but the quality of the people we’re working with has been exceptional and we hope our clients and customers can attest to this! 

We’re still at the beginning of the journey, but we are incredibly excited about the possibilities for Mina over the coming weeks, months and years, and most of all to keep solving the problems that are stopping people from switching to EVs! 

Would you like to hear more news or tips from the Mina team? Drop them in the comments and let us know!