Opportunity Network is facilitating business connections across the globe and helping small to mid-sized businesses stay afloat during the pandemic.
With much of the globe under stay-at-home orders and face-to-face interactions at a minimum, companies are increasingly relying on virtual connections to keep up their momentum. Businesses like Opportunity Network — built to facilitate those virtual connections— are working around the clock to help.
Opportunity Network, a SaaS company founded by several Columbia Business School alumni, is a network of over 30,000 CEOs seeking qualified business connections. Whether they’re seeking a business deal, searching for a business partner abroad, raising capital, or selling their company, Opportunity Network’s matchmaking platform helps them find qualified, well-vetted connections anywhere in the world.
We spoke to Alberto Constans, Opportunity Network’s COO, about how the company is adjusting to the changing business landscape under COVID-19.
Connecting Companies During COVID
Fortunately, the spread of COVID-19 did not lead to any major changes to how Opportunity Network operates. With about 100 employees spread across 60 countries, Opportunity Network is accustomed to connecting remotely and working from home. But while team operations have stayed mostly the same, customer behavior has changed dramatically.
“Activity on our platform has tripled in the past four weeks,” Constans says. “Our platform can help businesses transact in a more efficient way during the crisis. As a result, we’ve seen a total of $1 billion in deal flow posted on our website strictly related to COVID in just the past month. This includes companies willing to buy medical products, invest in research, or find distributors or suppliers for products or services related to COVID.”
Opportunity Network doesn’t just facilitate connections; it also ensures that those connections are high-quality and thoroughly vetted, a critical step in today’s complex security and compliance landscape. “Trust is one of our key differentiating factors; you can be sure you’re talking to someone reliable when you use our platform,” Constans says. “And the market today is very volatile in that sense; Spain, for example, bought a significant amount of medical supplies at the start of the crisis but had to throw them away because they were of such poor quality.”
In addition to facilitating connections between existing members, Opportunity Network is proactively contacting governments to add more qualified members as potential connections. “For example, the Spanish government has already put together a financial aid program,” Constans says. “These companies that have already been vetted by the government, so why shouldn’t they then be able to access Opportunity Network?”
Opportunity Network is also in conversation with the largest chamber of commerce in the US, which has more than 100,000 SMEs in its portfolio. “We would segment that population, identify customers with a strong background, and invite them to join the platform,” Constans explains.
Maintaining Messaging from Afar
In tandem with his role as COO of the Opportunity Network, Constans acts as a mentor and coach to business leaders, entrepreneurs, and teams. Transitioning to remote coaching has been challenging — as Constans values face-to-face connection. “I exclusively coach via video call now,” he says. “I think it’s essential to see each other, and to see the way we move and talk, to have a productive coaching relationship.”
In the current landscape, Constans is seeing increased demand for coaching on two subjects: how to cope with loss of business, and how to continue engaging with employees, clients, and stakeholders in the new landscape. “Now, more than ever, it’s important to be very clear about priorities and messaging,” Constans says. “Your messaging needs to be repeated again and again, and it has to resonate with the promises you’re making your stakeholders. Communicate as often, as clearly, and as consistently as possible.”