What You Need to Launch a Startup During the Zombie Apocalypse, or Any Time
The Zombie Apocalypse isn’t convenient for anyone.
It’s hard enough going through the daily grind -- juggling kids, office politics, a full DVR -- without the undead throwing a wrench in your social calendar. But in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse, entrepreneurs have even more at stake. Not only do they have to save room in their D-Day bunker for family and friends, they have to stock up on extra non-perishables for potential investors. After all, what are a few cans of clam chowder if it means a $10 million series A?
So what’s an aspiring entrepreneur to do? How can you build a brand that rises above the competition when your customer base is spending most of its time taking notes during the Walking Dead's return to TV on Sunday to learn survival skills? Hopefully, these tips can help anyone looking to start a company in the midst of the zombie apocalypse.
It’s probably best to stay indoors until the government commissions Brad Pitt to inject himself with Ebola to find a cure for zombification. Or however it was that World War Z ended. At any rate, rush hour traffic is bad enough without the fear of getting eaten on the interstate.
With the growth of bring your own device, digital storage and corporate chat platforms, working remotely is more convenient and easier than ever. Creating an office culture that operates efficiently from remote bunkers can save a company thousands of dollars in overhead, as well as save you from an HR nightmare when Becky from accounting gets eaten on the way into the office.
If it wasn’t already an issue before the apocalypse, working from home has that added difficulty level now that your neighbor -- the one whose lawnmower you “borrowed” in 2007 -- now has super strength and now wants to rip your face off. Whether you're competing for market share or food and ammunition, the zombie apocalypse requires the human race to reevaluate and adapt. Zombies are driving office space rent and property values into the ground, so it might be beneficial to partner with another group of like-minded, brain-appreciating people.
Despite your best judgment, you’re going to have to move the armoire away from the front door and move your business out of your studio apartment as you start to grow, bring on new employees, and begin to build a workplace culture -- preferably one that watches Shaun of the Dead on a loop each day.
Using office-rental services such as PivotDesk lets you identify locations that have extra office and desk space, helping your startup escape the calamity from the streets while also conveying a professional, buttoned-up, and blood-free image that’s so important for all new companies in the apocalypse.
Web engagement platforms
In between hunting down the zombie clan that ate the family dog and working on your new marketing collateral, handling customer invoices and scheduling meetings is sucking up time that you flat out can’t afford. And don’t get me started on your website’s analytics.
Optimizing your website with a client-engagement platform, such as vCita, allows your small-business website to serve as a personal assistant. This is helpful since conducting in-person interviews to hire a personal assistant could end in a blood bath, and not the kind that ensues when Starbucks is out of pumpkin spice lattes. Until LinkedIn is able to differentiate between potential candidates and the walking dead, it’s best to keep face-to-face human interaction at a minimum.
Maintain strong company culture
A happy employee is a productive employee. That’s why maintaining strong company culture is so important. Morale is no doubt going to take a hit after the IT department gets eaten on the way home from last week’s happy hour.
Organizations such as RoundPegg can assess your employees’ core values, figure out what makes them tick and provide useful tips on how to keep them motivated, such as casual Friday and hump day zombie beatdowns. Building that internal brand is becomingly almost as important as strong external communication, helping you construct a productive office environment that believes in your company’s mission as well as giving you a more cheerful human shield if the zombies infiltrate the ventilation system.
Chances are your core business offerings from year one won’t be the same in year 10. Today you provide legacy modernization tools for aging enterprises. Tomorrow you might manufacture zombie-resistant yoga pants. Or cronuts.
It’s important to evolve with the marketplace and stay nimble. That way, you can alter your offerings when necessary, provide more scalable solutions, and escape the 400 runners from the marathon that got bitten at registration.
Zombies hate plants. Apps don’t lie. Who knew?
Launching a company can be scary. A world overthrown by zombies is equally scary. Combining the two makes for a difficult entrepreneurial market. But by following these simple steps -- and hiring a dedicated team of employees that share your vision and can wield a 25-pound axe during a zombie breach -- can make your startup a successful one, even if most of your customer base probably isn’t going to survive your next round of funding.
Andrei Soroker is the co-Founder and CEO of Kato.im, a company that builds real-time communication software for large and distributed companies. Soroker lived in Siberia before moving to San Francisco as a teenager, where he attended Ruth Asawa School of The Arts, majoring in visual art. He holds a BS in computer science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, where he also earned a private pilot license (multi-engine land). He lives in Oakland, Calif., with his wife and three children.