COVID-19 Resources for The Cannon’s Startup and Small Business Community

The coronavirus pandemic is having a disproportionately detrimental impact on startups and small businesses. Fortunately, there is an increasing number of resources and organizations that are responding to the cry for help. To help our community of entrepreneurs and business owners better contend with the unique challenges this crisis poses, we are compiling FAQs and other resources in this post, which is a work in progress and will be updated daily.

Startups are the engines of progress. Small businesses are the backbone of America. Stay safe. Stay healthy. And keep persevering. 

 

Resources from The Cannon:

  • CERT Program. The Cannon Emergency Response Team Program is an application-based, multi-week program for startups and small businesses experiencing a crisis caused by external forces. The CERT Program operates as a temporary coalition of complementary subject matter experts, innovators, and creative problem solvers that provide rapid strategic support. The CERT Program focuses specifically on helping companies solve challenges resulting from unpredictable and uncontrollable macro-conditions. Cannon Emergency Response Teams that provide a small team of advisors to help address specific challenges related to the crisis. For more information, visit the detailed CERT Program page here email our Director of Startup Programs, Kristen Phillips, at kphillips@thecannon.com.
  • Virtual Office Hours. Subject matter experts supplied by our corporate partners who have volunteered their time to help with areas within their fields. View the list of these experts here.
  • Emergency Virtual Office Hours. If you are feeling overwhelmed and need to talk more directly with our team, The Cannon’s Founder, Lawson Gow, and Managing Director, Remington Tonar can be booked here. We may very well end up introducing you to our valued partners as part of your Relief Strategy Plan but are happy to take a very direct and hands-on approach to address your immediate needs.
  • The Cannon on COVID-19 Part I Webinar Series. Download the PDF here from March 19th that covers immediate issues startups and small businesses should be thinking about.

 

Partner Resources:

  • COVID-19 pandemic: How to prepare your business article from Insperity
  • Intellectual Property agency and court availability summary from Baker Botts
  • Baker Tilly’s coronavirus resource center can be accessed here.
  • Thompson Knight coronavirus legal news updates can be found here.
  • AcctTwo emergency accounting and budgeting office hours can be booked here.
  • gener8tor is hosting a free one-week Emergency Response program available for all small businesses and entrepreneurs in Houston
  • Texas Citizens Bank COVID-19 Updates can be found here.
  • AcctTwo is hosting a 5-Part Series Webinar on “Extending Your Runway”. Register for them here.

 

Resources from The Cannon Startup and Small Business Community:

  • BizHippo’s article on Conserving Cash here and the Paid Families Coronavirus Relief Act enacted by Congress here.
  • TNC CPAs are helping all businesses who need to apply for the Payroll Protection program (PPP) Loan from their banks here.

 

Local, Regional, National, Private and Non-Profit Resources:

Local and national public and private sector organizations are also stepping forward to provide various forms of assistance, from conventional financing to grants, to the businesses that need it the most. We’ve aggregated our favorite programs to-date below. More of these programs appear every day, and we’ll be sharing new opportunities as we hear about them.

  • City of Houston: Get the latest updates here.
  • SBA: Small Business Association: The much-anticipated SBA disaster loans are now available for Harris County. As of March 25th, the SBA Disaster Relief Loan portal is offline and undergoing maintenance. The SBA offers other, non-financial COVID-19 related assistance such as CDC information and business strategy in an auxiliary post here:
  • ABA: American Bankers Association: Banks all around the nation are stepping up to provide financial opportunities to local communities. The American Bankers Association has aggregated information on banks that are waiving fees, offering deferred payments for credit cards, auto loans, and mortgages, allowing for loan modifications, among additional services and extensions. Find your bank or look to explore options here:
  • Facebook: For up to 30,000 eligible small businesses, Facebook is offering $100mm in cash grants and credits to help small businesses keep their operations up and running. Review that here.
  • GoFundMe & Yelp: GoFundMe and Yelp have partnered to provide a fast and simple way for independent businesses to start fundraisers and accept donations directly through their Yelp pages. The Yelp Foundation and GoFundMe have pledged to match up to $1 million in donations, with a $500 matching grant to eligible businesses that raise at least $500 on their GoFundMe. Learn the details here.
  • James Beard Foundation: The James Beard Foundation is providing micro-grants to independent food and beverage businesses in need. If you are interested in this opportunity, add your information on the link provided on this page and they’ll reach out with next steps.
  • Kabbage: The Fintech company, Kabbage, has made it easy for you to create and purchase gift certificates online for small businesses. You can sign your company up for free and ask your customers to purchase a gift card to support cashflow.
  • Kiva: Apply for a 0% interest loan for up to $15,000 with a grace period of up to 6 months.
  • Opportunity Fund: Through a Coronavirus Relief Fund, Opportunity Fund will provide grants and low-interest loans to small businesses owned by women, immigrants and people of color. Connect with them here to see if they could be a resource for you.
  • Wefunder: Small businesses can crowdfund loans from $20k to $1mm for support during COVID-19 from their network.
  • HBJ Entrepreneurial Opportunity Contest: The winning pitch will receive $10,000. Deadline April 1st. Based on an innovative idea that can bring your company to the ‘next level’. Apply Now!

 

FAQs:

How do we take advantage of The Cannon’s virtual office hours?
During this crisis, The Cannon is focusing on pairing companies with advisors that can have an immediate impact on your business. Many of our corporate partners, who are experts in their fields, have stepped up to help. We’ve compiled a list of these partners who have volunteered their time here. Please feel free to reach out to them directly. We have also launched the Cannon Emergency Response Team program, which pulls together groups of advisors to tackle specific issues you’re having collaboratively. For more information on the CERT program, please email our Director of Startup Programs, Kristen Phillips, at kphillips@thecannon.com.

What advice do you have for companies that are fundraising? Given the state of the public equities markets and the tremendous amount of economic uncertainty right now, many individual and institutional investors will likely be adopting a conservative posture and looking to hold cash. While there will be individuals with liquidity who are wary of public markets and are looking to alternative investments and private capital markets. Overall, however, expect the climate for venture capital to remain tepid for the near future, depending on what industry you’re in and what your company does. The Cannon is working on ways to activate its Investor Network to help provide solutions for startups in need of operating capital. More on this soon. In the meantime, we encourage companies to consider conventional financing (e..g bank debt) as an option. Many government agencies and private financial institutions are offering special programs for startups and small businesses right now. Take advantage of these programs, as well as low-interest rates. The Small Business Administration has a lot of valuable information on these programs.

Can my business apply for the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan? Updated as of March 30th, 2020 @ 12PM
Texas small businesses can now apply for the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) to help with the COVID-19 Crisis.

What’s an EIDL? The SBA EIDL program can provide low-interest loans of up to $2M to businesses and private non-profits. EIDLs may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills. The Interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%. EIDLs have long-term repayment options, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based on borrower’s ability to repay. Apply Here.

I suspended the launch of my product for now. How do I explain my strategy to investors and potential investors? Suspending major launches, events and activities is prudent. Most investors will understand your reasons for doing so, even if your decisions have a negative impact on your company’s progress. The world is at war with coronavirus and COVID-19. Any attempt to try and act like it’s business-as-usual could do more damage to your company than pausing a product launch, and your customers attentions are likely elsewhere right now. Take this time to plan for after things stabilize. How will you emerge from this stronger? How will stay top of mind through this crisis, and ensure you’re relevant in the new normal once it’s over?

What advice would you give to entrepreneurs in the idea stage during this time? Where should they be pausing and how should they be using their time to prepare for the journey ahead?
Time is a critical asset. For idea-stage entrepreneurs, now is the perfect time to step back, challenge your assumptions and stress test your idea. Many startup advisors emphasize speed, but sometimes a pause can be beneficial. It allows you to more fully develop your vision, perfect your business plan and pitch deck and think through how you will go to market in a post-coronavirus economy. In preparing for the post-coronavirus world, it’s important to ask whether or not your offering will be relevant to companies who will be reeling from this latest crisis. Just as 9/11 fundamentally changed how businesses and consumers think and act, so too will this. Does your idea add value in a post-coronavirus world? How will you cut through the noise and establish value and relevance in a world in recovery? Use this time to ask these questions while perfecting your idea, business model and strategy.

Do you have a running list of available talent for those who have been laid off?
The Cannon is currently developing a talent marketplace platform that will serve as a central point for employers and employees impacted by this crisis. In the meantime, please check out some of the other great resources in the Houston area such as HTX Talent.

 

In the words of our fearless founder, “These unprecedented times call for creativity and grit that should be no stranger to a founder. Think like it’s Day 1. The day you started your company and had to hustle and get scrappy to survive. Reach deep and reclaim some of the entrepreneurial spirits you started with! “Hang in there, we’ll get through this together.” -Lawson Gow