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Workshop 1 of the Lighthouse Program showed us how important it is to embody the startup values of adaptation and partnership

Over the last few weeks, the world has experienced life as a startup. We watched as our leaders reacted quickly to new information and made bold strategic pivots. We started wearing multiple hats to cover for closing schools and shuttered storefronts. To some extent, we began to appreciate the fact that survival isn’t something we can take for granted.

As restrictions landed across Europe and casual networking became a highly regulated industry overnight, many of us started to appreciate the small joys of human interaction: the meal we could share with a friend; the smile of a stranger. We also started to hear stories of remarkable adaptation: the five star restaurant that transformed into a drive thru. The hospital that offered to train laid off flight attendants into hospital staff.

Throughout the early days of COVID-19, the Lighthouse Program also worked hard to adapt and deliver on our promise of strengthening the entire financial services ecosystem. Our adaptation started the day the virus was classified as a pandemic. We were in Oslo, and saw the effects first hand as entrepreneurs like Andrea Carmignani, co-founder of Keyless, attended our workshop from his home shelter in Italy. We were forced to pivot to a fully remote event later that week when the Estonian government cancelled all conferences hours before our Tallinn workshop began.

The more things changed, the more we went back to the basics. How could we make it easier for folks to share a meal? How could we better facilitate human interaction?

A few days later, we found at least one answer thanks to a tip from a startup across the world. One of our founder friends in the U.S. told us about a virtual lunch he attended–one made possible by a delivery service that sent food to everyone’s house. In the spirit of open innovation, we borrowed this idea and started looking for partners that could deliver meals to all the Lighthouse cities (hint: not Uber Eats!).

The more things changed, the more we went back to the basics. How could we make it easier for folks to share a meal? How could we better facilitate human interaction?

A few days later, we found one answer thanks to a tip from another startup across the world. One of our founder friends in the U.S. told us about a virtual lunch he attended–one made possible by a delivery service that sent food to everyone’s house. In the spirit of open innovation, we borrowed this idea and started looking for partners that could help us deliver meals to the cities where Lighthouse was running this spring.

When COVID-19 turned casual networking into a highly regulated industry, many of us started to appreciate the need for the little things like smiles from strangers and a meal with friends. Thanks to our partnership with Wolt, the Lighthouse Program was able to make all those little things a little easier. During our workshops last week, we used Wolt for Business to deliver meals to 11 different companies in four countries.

Thanks to Wolt for your incredible commitment to partnership!

Are things different now?

In some ways, our society has changed in response to this pandemic. As one tweet put it:

Me working from home in 2019:

-lazy
-unproductive
-hiding from society

Me working from home in 2020:

-valiant and selfless
-singlehandedly keeping firm and clients safe
-helping contain global pandemic
-Nobel Prize in public health

But in other ways, the world isn’t so different now. Great ideas and partnerships can still flourish through open innovation because people continue to be drawn to one another by curiosity, helpfulness, and the desire to grow–forces that no phobias or lockdowns can fully break.

In this time when everyone needs to think more like a startup, we’re proud to represent a program that champions that way of thought throughout the community. We’re also proud to represent the Nordics and Baltics, a true north star for the world not only in terms of payment innovation but also in terms of cooperation for the greater good. We look forward to adapting to more challenges together–and until then, congratulations to all our companies for an excellent first workshop!

We look forward to adapting to more challenges together–and until then, congratulations to all our companies for an excellent first workshop!

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