As Melbourne’s lockdown drags on, these startups are going the extra mile to support their SME clients

Gobbill co-founders Shendon Ewans and Quentin Marsh. Source: Supplied.

Gobbill co-founders Shendon Ewans and Quentin Marsh. Source: supplied.

Startups are by no means immune to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the economic crisis that has come with it. And that’s especially true of those that are built to serve the small business community.

While these startups rely on small businesses as their own customers, and are suffering as they do, many are also going the extra mile to support their clients at this tricky time.

Shendon Ewans is co-founder and chief of fintech Gobbill, an automated bill-payment tool for both households and small businesses.

“Small businesses that are ‘hibernating’ are suffering and most cannot wait any longer,” Edwards told SmartCompany.

“The announcement on Sunday may be what is needed from a health response but not as a business response for Melbourne’s lockdown.”

Many of the small businesses Gobbill works with had to close their doors at the beginning of the first wave, and haven’t been able to open them again since.

“It is gut-wrenching to watch this unfold. Every lockdown measure or trading uncertainty leads towards more businesses expected to permanently close.”

Hospitality support

Brendan Lees heads up professional networking platform Clipboard, designed to help keep the hospitality community connected.

Of course, the hospitality industry has had it tough, and it doesn’t look like things are going to get much easier anytime soon.

“We are hearing from many of our clients who may not survive another six weeks under these conditions, which is heartbreaking,” Lees tells SmartCompany.

“We are banking on extended support from the government to help keep our industry alive.”

As a startup, Clipboard has been able to pivot quickly, and repeatedly, during the pandemic, Lees says.

Now, at a time when staying connected is arguably more important than ever, the startup is focused on supporting its users from a resilience and wellbeing perspective, rather than focusing on professional opportunities.

“We will continue to push through, have a healthy mindset, and control what we can,” Lees says.

“We will continue to be a voice for the hospitality community and get our members ‘job ready’ and focus on their mental wellbeing for the future.”

Elsewhere, soft drinks startup Quest Beverages is also striving to make things as easy as possible for its hospitality customers, especially as Melbourne’s lengthy lockdown drags on.

“Although the writing was on the wall that the Melbourne COVID-19 lockdown would continue for longer, it was still a crushing blow for businesses,” co-founder Murray Raeburn tells SmartCompany.

“The two-week extension was expected, but the part that shocked me was the details of how long it will take to move back to any resemblance of normal life and normal business trading conditions.”

However, Raeburn is adapting.

That means doubling down on the online sales of Quest’s flagship Calm & Storm drinks, and putting in place measures to support its hospitality customers, “given they are suffering the worst”, he says.

“We’ve removed minimum orders and are fulfilling orders lighting-quick so they don’t risk losing a single sale, especially as the weather warms up.”

NOW READ: The wrong kind of safe: Victoria’s recovery roadmap completely overlooks the startup community

NOW READ: “More than ever, it’s a marathon, not a sprint”: Startup Victoria chief Judy Anderson counsels for self-care during COVID-19 uncertainty


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