“We were handling a total of 40 files 1,5 month ago… and now only have 2 Around 30% of all contracts are cancelled, 30% delayed until September and 30% until early 2021”.
COVID-19 has affected businesses all over the world in diverse ways. On our new series on Evolve-“The Impact”, we target Founders, CEOs and Top Executives, we capture their views on the impact of the current global pandemic on their businesses, what they are doing to stay valid and what the future looks like for them. In this interview, Erik Van Rompay tells us what business has been like for them at Growth-Experts.eu. Find out more in this interview.
Tell us Sir, where was your company before the outbreak of COVID-19?
We are a network of 500 R&D experts in 18 countries focusing on business strategy for R&D related projects – and as all those projects need funding, we also do the funding. Just before the lockdown, we were raising 2 billion euros for our clients.
How has the pandemic affected your business this far?
The lockdown is for everyone so we have also suffered on the one hand because governments allowed companies to put their employees on leave so no need for advisory services and on the other hand, all investors stopped their investment activity. We were handling a total of 40 files 1,5 months ago… and now we only have 2. Around 30% of all contracts were cancelled, 30% delayed until September and 30% until early 2021. We also had 2 clients – solid SMEs that were in the event industry and both decided to engage bankruptcy procedures.
What measures are you taking to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and multiplier effects on your business?
We know that after the lockdown, things will not be the same so,
First : we are a network of consultants so we do not have to lay off people as each consultant is free to “unsubscribe” so leave the network. At the moment, we have all 80 consultants in Asia that stopped their activity so our activity in Asia have ended and our Asian office closed down. This is also the same situation in the USA, where we have had to drop down from 70 to 5 consultants.
In Europe… the Growth-Experts has maintained it’s previous status but with very little prospects. Roughly said : we shrunk from 500 to around 250 people – knowing that most are suffering from the lockdown. Also… none receives financial assistance from government to help them scale through sale through this difficult period.
As an organization, we are specialized in strategic advise so we are repositioning our brand.
- While we already had an activity for companies to BUY innovations through strategic partnerships, licencing… we now focus on buying innovative companies so Mergers & Acquisitions.
- Our second activity was to reposition companies onto their marketplace. Instead of repositioning for growth, we are now focusing on repositioning for survival. It is a different value chain but the same set of services.
Let’s say we project five months down the line from now, and imagine at this time business is getting back to normal, what will this mean for your company?
As mentioned, we are in the R&D environment and this will no longer be financed until the end of the year 2020. The only activity that will continue is through mergers and acquisitions. So we re-aligned our business.
In relation to the previous question, how much time do you think your company will need to get back to the pre-pandemic stage?
My guess is at least 18 months so not before the end of next year – perhaps even 2022. It will be long.
This pandemic took us all unawares and many companies were not prepared internally to handle changes provoked by lock down as well as related measures, your company might not be in this category. What are yourthoughts on the place of technology?
We were already using intensive technology as we are in a “home-office” environment so it did not impact us. But we have one main problem, most of my clients gave me their office numbers and as they are no longer in their office… it’s impossible to reach. So is complicated on that side…
What impact will the pandemic have on employment in your company?
We are a network so we can not really speak about employment but I guess that I will lose around 2 third of my experts in my network. The new environment will be less R&D based so we will have different skill sets like market intelligence experts, but not necessarily R&D experts.
About Erik Van Rompay
Erik Van Rompay is President/founder of Growth-Experts.eu, a global network of 500 experts assisting ambitious executives in their R&D strategy and finding the necessary project funding.
Graduated as engineer with INSEAD training, Erik has acquired strong entrepreneurial experiences in France and abroad, to become one of Europe’s leading innovation and financial experts.
After 5 years at Walt Disney Imagineering, the realization of several industrial projects for Ford Motors Co, Volvo, Daf Trucks, the creation of foreign business units for large companies, he ended up launching 5 start-ups. This all allowed him to master all aspects of implementing innovation for start-ups and large industrial groups – including the so crucial need for funding.