Cowboy VC’s Aileen Lee: Your coronavirus scenario planning should be more conservative

The tech industry (and the world at large) is not experiencing temporary anxiety — the uncertainty we’re all coping with is the new normal.

Sudden shifts in behavior have made some startups targeting slow-moving, old-school industries more relevant than they could have imagined, such as those in telehealth, distance learning and remote work. Most, however are seeing massive decreases in revenue, forcing them to cut costs and even lay off teams to slash burn rates. Other startups simply won’t be here in three to six months.

Cowboy Ventures founder and managing partner Aileen Lee, who coined the term “unicorn,” says tech companies going through scenario planning need to begin thinking long-term.

“We’ve spent the last month scenario planning with our portfolio companies, and in most cases, we’ll have conversations about what these scenarios can include,” said Lee. “And when we look at the planning around those scenarios, they often don’t feel conservative enough. Most entrepreneurs are optimists, and we are, too! But it seems safer to have more conservative plans [and start expecting] that this is going to impact us for longer and be worse than we expected.”

Lee and Cowboy Ventures partner Ted Wang joined TechCrunch on Tuesday for our first episode of Extra Crunch Live, a virtual speaker series for Extra Crunch members. In a live Q&A that included questions from myself and the Extra Crunch audience, Wang and Lee covered a wide range of topics, including PPP loans, advice for business leaders around layoffs, the right time to seek funding and the right firms from which to seek that funding, how to pitch during a downturn and which sectors in particular Cowboy is interested in financing right now.

You can check out the best insights from the call, or catch up on the full conversation via the YouTube embed below.

We have several outstanding guests, including Charles Hudson, Mitch and Freada Kapor, Mark Cuban, Roelof Botha, Hunter Walk and Kirsten Green, joining us on Extra Crunch Live over the next few weeks. Sign up for Extra Crunch to get access to all of them.

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