1. Covid, the destroyer… Covid, the propeller

Can a traditional company destroyed by COVID-19 use propulsive technology to rebuild and recover?

Skip to a specific part of the recording by clicking on the Episode Timeline:

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Can a traditional company destroyed by COVID-19 use propulsive technology to rebuild and recover?

Skip to a specific part of the recording by clicking on the Episode Timeline:

Episode Timeline
00:00Introduction – A Question 01:04Covid, The Destroyer 02:20Covid, The Propeller 03:42We will rebuild, together 05:29What’s the plan?

Introduction – A Question

I have a question – It is April 2021 and we’ve just laid off around half of our workforce. We are a business in ruins.

Really, an example of what many across the entire globe have been going through because of COVID-19 – Uncertainty. Loss – both of life and livelihood and arriving at a place where we’ve been forced to confront an unwelcomed reality and essentially start from scratch

My name is Simon and for the past 10 years I, together with my business partner Daniel (and our team), ran a successful car parking business in Johannesburg. We experienced the normal ups and downs all entrepreneurs and people running businesses experience… but nothing like COVID-19.

Covid, The Destroyer

Our business is the traditional sort of business that depends on the movement of people. I’ll break down details in a bit, but just picture – in your mind masses of office workers who drive to work in the Joburg City Center and need a safe place near their companies to park their cars. We run those type of parking facilities and that’s how we made money – through parking bay rentals. Enter the March 2020 Covid-19 lockdown. Now picture deserted city streets with hardly anyone commuting and offices empty.

In that first month we made only around 10% of our usual revenue. If not for publically available relief funds, we would have probably collapsed right there and then…

Industries particularly hard hit included hospitality and travel. 2020 was obviously a terrible year for businesses.

Covid, The Propeller

Having said that, 2020 was also a great year for a certain class of business, the class of business which saw huge gains in usage, revenue, stock price and most other metrics.

Technology companies in particular became essential to continue some kind of way of living in a pandemic: Remote working technology like Zoom, replaced physical offices, e-learning replaced classrooms. There were also huge gains in streaming for home entertainment (Netflix). And huge gains in online shopping and the logistics companies that deliver those goods. As horrific as 2020 was, if you are interested in the adoption of technology that really propels society, then 2020 was also a pretty exciting year!

So… I started this recording saying I had a question – THAT question is as follows: Can traditional businesses that lay in ruins from COVID-19, use some of the same propulsive technology to rebuild themselves?

We will rebuild, together

Over the next 3-4 months I’m going to attempt to answer this question. I’m going to rebuild our parking company using all the relevant knowledge and technology that is available to resurrect it back to prosperity AND I will be documenting the entire process from inception to completion in a chronological series of recorded audio– a podcast. This recording is the introduction to the yet to be named series.

I initially wanted to document the project as a series of recordings for myself as a way to organize my thoughts – since I am the person driving this project. But hopefully over the coming months through the thinking and writing down the thoughts and translating them into a recording – maybe the process of answering the question and rebuilding… will help other entrepreneurs who may be going through a similar thing…. Or maybe it can be used just for people to witness our attempts at trying to rebuild and take what works perhaps provide feedback – even if you are listening long after the events I will be recording. It’s never too late to contribute to a shared pool of experience. So this podcast is for entrepreneurs – experienced or aspiring in any field or capacity – AND for the people who support us.

So… How exactly do I plan to rebuild our business? Well, before I dive into that let me explain briefly what it is a parking company does, or more correctly, a Parking Facility Management Company. Ours is called Afropark.

What’s the plan?

Afropark’s mission is to manage the parking facilities for property owners in order to providing safe, convenient and affordable parking to motorists. So basically we manage the parking lots and basements and collect rental –for monthly or hourly stays on behalf of the owners of the lots and basements.

With that mission in mind, I’ll approach this project in 7 steps:

Step #1. I’ll spend 1-2 weeks Identifying and analyzing the actual problems that contributed to the business’ collapse during 2020 – here I’ll go into some detail on the mechanics of how businesses like ours work and what made us more vulnerable to the shock of a lockdown.

Step #2. I’ll spend 2-4 weeks Creating a blueprint on the technical and operational changes that will need to be implemented to solve the problems we identified in the first step. This step will include the design of the technology and specific process changes for the company.

Step #3. I’ll spend 1 week – Finding and hiring the core development team. Specifically coder/s who will write the software, trainers, technicians and the support team who will essentially deliver and support the new system. This step is actually happens in conjunction with step 2 – you find the coder at the same time as creating the blueprint.

Step #4. It will take around 8 weeks to code and test the new technology and processes. Testing during development ensures that the new system actually fixes the problems correctly.

Step #5. 3-4 weeks – Training the team on the new Afropark.

Step #6 is to Release the solution commercially – find launch customers – probably some of our older customers – give them a free trial for a few months. This will be the real test if it works, because if they are willing to pay money for it, we have effectively rebuilt the business

Step #7. Create and measure our growth and release strategy – keep improving and updating our service based on constant feedback and measurement so are stay on the forefront.

With those 7 steps executed successfully, I will have answered the main question of whether a traditional business like Afropark, in ruins from COVID-19, can use propulsive technology to rebuild and recover.

Hopefully this will make us not only survive COVID-19 but actually thrive going forward as an indirect result.

In my next recording, I’ll be diving right into it with step 1 – The analysis of the problems.

Thank you for listening and catch you next time.