Shaken and agitated innovation, without pandemic disruptions, says roundtable – Loveland Reporter-Herald

Participants at an innovation roundtable in Fort Collins said Tuesday that pandemic-driven adaptations slowed growth and boosted it over the past 18 months, making the “disruption” more than just a simple one. fashion word and forced “innovation” to win its hopes in praise of entrepreneurship. moxie launch and start-ups.

Scott Sampl, chief operating officer of Fort Collins’ non-profit incubator, Innosphere Ventures, said before the COVID-based changes, when the group received requests to “support emerging non-Colorado businesses.” , he had to say no.

He now works with clients and universities in the border states of Colorado (Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico) and beyond, including Texas.

Pat Keady, executive director of Aerosol Devices, cited the challenges: workers losing direct communication (colder water conversations) and “one of the biggest setbacks (it wasn’t) at any trade show,” an ideal choice for at his Fort Collins company that manufactures equipment to collect and help analyze nanoparticles in the air.

“Nano” measures one billionth; as you read this line, your nails grew a few nanometers.

“Virtual exhibitions,” he stressed, “Do. No. Work. I won’t pay a penny.”

Sriram Kesavan and Srinivasan Yagnanarayanan co-founded Square Comp, based in India, which manufactures virtual reality products for the technical training of blue-collar manufacturing workers. VR companies had also generally been a fairground user for customers who want to try the technology.

But the duo said they “adapted the technology” to this new non-normal and that “post-COVID established new connections with companies,” Kesavan said.

Yagnanarayanan added that previously “they had to explain virtual reality” to potential customers. With everyone working virtually, “it was better now.” Square Comp had received inquiries from, for example, Canada about video training, which has generally increased among companies as an employee education option.

Video training also became a feature of SurgiReal. CEO Andrew Hendrickson talked about how the Loveland company, which makes products to help medical students learn to suture, improved the post-COVID elements with training videos and “used the educators”.

Zoom tree

Specific Questions The innovators of the roundtables discussed the Zoom meetings involved and the hybrid meetings that are already growing, where some members are present and others on camera.

The Northern Colorado event and one to be held next week in the Boulder Valley are examples, with about two-thirds of this week’s participants physically present.

Innovators in northern Colorado suggested that hybrid meetings would continue, as extended work circles develop (the border states of Colorado and Canada, for example) and a myriad of mask / mask-optional / no-mask rules currently.

People like it, they said.

Some love it.

“You can stack them,” Blake Craig, co-founder of LaborJack, also told Fort Collins. Meetings go “all the time and you can do the next one right away.”

This simply means that companies “knock on more doors.”

Sampl agreed: you could “go up to Zoom five minutes before” with at least the top half professionally presentable on camera and do some business.

Craig’s company is expanding the temporary agency staff for the new freelance job, which kids like to call “concert economy”. LaborJack registers workers who don’t want their grandfather’s Oldsmobile or their 50-hour workweek and supplies them to companies for largely short-term tasks.

Keady said “remote control was an advantage because we are global” and product training and collaboration with customers were facilitated as the work embraced the dynamics of electronic communication.

The company’s products were used in COVID-related research that became part of a “good newsroom” in the New York Times, collected by “100 media outlets around the world.”

Hendrickson said in an email that SurgiReal’s videos filled a void. The company received information from the instructors, fired them, and posted the training technology on its website and YouTube channel so that students “could access the training from home.

“Schools reacted quite quickly to taking online classes, but our videos are still available.”

Consequences (unintended)

Several participants commented on these second-level effects.

Many problems involved employees, not only where they would be, but also.

Jana Sanchez of LaunchNo.Co said she has seen more women begin adventures as a side effect of direct results related to COVID, specifically those related to remote work, child or family care, and a change in professional expectations.

“They want to have their time” instead of, for example, earning a six-figure salary. “Better benefits too” in healthcare and other areas. “They start mostly in service companies,” she said, and “women who left the workforce don’t necessarily go back.”

Executive Sanchez leads the start-up group, which helps companies “train, grow and stay” in Larimer and Weld counties.

Tamara Wesley, Intel’s site director, said she’s working on growing a template in a highly specialized sub-niche of software development and large server chips.

Larger companies, for example, can now lure northern Coloradoans away from local jobs, without having to seduce them away from home.

“Google has more money than money and can pay a salary three times over,” Wesley said, and employees (now) “don’t have to move” to take on the new job. His Fort Collins site is expanding, but “can’t occupy open positions.”

Even if these slots pay less in Texas than in California, for example, “it’s still superior to Fort Collins.”

Jennifer Henderson agreed. “Initial companies can’t compete,” at least not for money. Our Tilt, which has developed a platform to manage employee layoffs and where she is CEO, offers its own employees “a manifesto, not a manual” and a constant focus on “corporate culture, values ​​and benefits.” elements of working life is not on the pay stubs.

Henderson’s second-level experience comes from this approach to internal culture and realizing that “just being remote is not possible,” not even desirable. After an in-person staff withdrew from the company, they “separated from two employees” because they had known them better directly.

Craig said that while LaborJack’s Bread and Butter is the short-term concert, even that changes to a record higher than the existing phrase due to COVID.

As the consequences of COVID, including government activities and altered notions of people, affect work, it sees customers starting to ask for longer-term contracts to fill job shortages.

Craig then asked Sampl if Inosphere invasions from nearby states would lead to physical locations in the conquered territories. Sampl was cautious, but noted that the company’s early-stage marketing compader it helps run was growing its core business in Colorado.

Innosphere “is expanding to Fort Collins” soon and “close to a deal” for space in Denver, he said.

As always

This is normal, in a good way, and with innovation, the same, the same, is always new most of the time.

Mike Moses said “we need to digitally transform” the business. Given the global electronic expectations (the smartphone allows us to find friends in the woods or in the Far East), traditional methods may seem like calling the 1995 locator to let them know of a fax we sent.

But “rural internet providers and fiber groups” have to go through to close “the divide between Front Range and Western Slope” of people and businesses.

“Internet service in rural areas has been a challenge for employees,” Wesley said, noting the need for “more predictable infrastructure”. We design (chips) at home, but we have to log in ”to do the general work.

Moses said innovation “has been hampered” over the past 18 months in a restrictive environment, with time spent “adapting to a distant workforce and adapting to new business models.” “A distributed workforce will be a challenge,” he said.

Moses Red Mountain Scientific develops software and uses drones for “field-based data capture and cloud-based analytics” for cell tower owners.

Henderson said, “First we’ve always been remote,” which echoed Keady’s comment that mode was an advantage to his overall work. Our inclination multiplied by ten this year and hopes to reach the same mark next year; 60% of employees are women.

A collective, almost tactile audible snort dropped the room as the words “Microsoft Teams” were uttered and Sanchez observed the “visceral reaction.” Wesley said “high-quality” zoom should be part of recent best practices.

He also simply said, “I miss people.”

Square Comp co-founders Kesavan and Yagnanarayanan said they thought their people could return to the offices as soon as September and October.

It is possible that the working style of the return coffee will return.

Sponsors

What will always be “behind”, always in style, is innovation … and tracing it.

Dennis Paul, vice president of government affairs with the roundtable sponsor, Elevations Credit Union, referred to the “innovation economy” and Fort Collins regional manager Alex Dutton connected the concept with the idea of a long time to be in the “relationship business”. , that morning, a group met for hybrid that was to discuss new ideas.

Mike Grell, with accounting firm Plante Moran, backed the roundtables “as long as he was in” northern Colorado and the Boulder Valley, saying the conversation was critical to the growth of the business. Ashley Cawthorn added that she “enjoys it a lot more, watching people.” He directs the marketing of Boulder-based Berg Hill Greenleaf Ruscitti LLP.

An innovation roundtable is planned for Boulder in the coming weeks.

The last 18 months are probably also on his agenda, along with the next 18.

© 2021 BizWest Media LLC

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