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Startups Surviving Covid-19 #7: Alexander Fahie of Ethical Angel

Ethical Angel is a technology company and what they do is to provide businesses with an employee engagement engine. It matches employees based on their personality skills and interests with projects populated by charities and social enterprises worldwide, which are things they need.

Ethical Angel has since won multiple awards, certified as a full B Corp and is working with some of the world’s biggest businesses to give their people meaningful experiences that benefit people, the planet and profit.

We interviewed their CEO Alexander Fahie about work from home, Covid-19, B Corp, and more.

Startups Surviving Covid-19 #7: Alexander Fahie of Ethical Angel

As we all know, Covid-19 affected London’s startups in direct and indirect ways, and it has permanently changed the landscape for London’s technology businesses like the rest of the world. So we are interviewing key people of the startup ecosystem to ask them about their challenges and survival strategies in this hard time. 

We hope that this interview series will be helpful and insightful for other startups in London out there. Because we believe that the most important thing is to learn from each other and be helpful to others, within this direction, you are welcomed to the seventh episode of our “How to Survive Covid-19 as a Startup?” interview series. You can reach all of them from our Covid-19 Interviews YouTube playlist. So let’s begin, fellas!

Watch the interview of Ethical Angel:

Work from home situation

Firstly, it is a horrible period for many people, and my heart goes out to them. In terms of what Ethical Angel has done, it is working out how we can continue operating as closely and collaboratively from home without micromanaging. We are trying to create a very flexible autonomous environment where we judge purely upon outputs. However, we are still trying to keep fabric to make sure that our culture continues in the digital environment. 

One of the things that we have always done is a “Fika.” My mum is Swedish, and in Swedish culture, it means “coffee and cake.” Every Friday, we get together, talk about the week and digest things that have happened. In this way, we mentally prepare ourselves for the weekend, but that is a bit harder when working from home. Also, we do quizzes on how well you know your colleagues, and then last week, we decide which was asking every personal team for anonymous feedback on each other. So you should share lovely stories about how people see each other in the workplace.

What I hope happens is that we get the best aspects of learning from this large-scale experiment or flexible working. We give people more opportunities to be autonomous. People work well in different ways. I love being in the office, being surrounded by people, I love energy. However, I have also seen amazing results from members of my team who are working better autonomously. So, I want to support them, and I am sure our businesses do too but still keep our physical presence where people can meet face to face and not have to do it over Zoom.

What is a B Corp?

Our founder Ozan Dağdeviren cares passionately about what the B Corp is. So, here is his explanation for the readers out there who are hearing about the concept of B Corp for the first time. You can also learn more about them from here.

In a traditional organization, the CEO has the responsibility to the shareholders to maximize profits. If there comes a decision point where a CEO has to maximize the profit even though it has some societal costs, the CEO has to follow that route most of the time, whatever the environment or societal cost is. If they do not do that, it is essentially the CEO neglecting their duties and can be replaced. In a B Corp, the CEO has an option B which is to say: “Okay. This is the more profitable way, but it does not essentially benefit all stakeholders if you take a broader view. So, we will not go that route even though it is more profitable.” Therefore, being a B Corp gives that option to the CEO.

Uncut interview:

Observations on how Covid-19 affecting the London startup ecosystem

“It is not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”

Epictetus

I do not think we will be returning to beautiful obviously for a whole host of reasons anytime soon. However, fundamentally we are lucky within London and as startups to react relatively quickly, and those that react best will be the ones that get the most out of this experience.

We have just closed a funding round. Luckily, that all went okay, but there is a model that exists and comes over to Europe, having stemmed from America where you raise and spend. So, the margin for error that you can then utilize going forwards is obviously always very sure. I think that model will inevitably change. I think a lot of VC’s that current is falling their existing portfolio businesses. Suppose we will have another pandemic or in a recession or something else that would cause the sales pipeline to stutter or stop. A lot of business is a good struggle. Perhaps that approach to fundraising, investing, bootstrapping and growing will become more conservative going forwards. All businesses will just operate much leaner models.

We are a remote employee engagement tool. It is a totally scalable proposition that provides personalization and really rewarding experiences as businesses adapt to a more decentralized workforce. They are trying to find ways to look after their people both in terms of learning, development, engagement, team culture, talent sharing, all those different things. So it has definitely been a net positive for Ethical Angel.

Startups Surviving Covid-19 #7: Alexander Fahie of Ethical Angel

Final comments

Businesses cannot prepare for the unknown because if they could prepare for the unknown, it is very likely that the things they are prepared for will not happen. For us, we just want to ensure that we got the very best out of this experience (research and development). There has to be an appreciation of who our next customers will be and ensuring that the machine can be sold with a difference or a chassis. Hence, it looks different all the way; the underlying mechanics are exactly the same. We can then sell that to two different businesses in a slightly different way to recognize the situation we are in. So you have two things research and development but trying to adapt to continued sales. Ensure that pipeline stays busy.

Everything from how the government is bailing out companies as they did in the last recession, I would love them to be insisting upon carbon neutral business models, having to be taken up in exchange for state aid. I would love the idea of people working autonomously and trying to use that to share which looks after the kids or maybe the gender pay gap.

Thanks for your insights Tom and thanks to you, our reader. Believe that everything is going to be okay soon. Stay safe, stay healthy!

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Each week, we will be visiting a new startup office to meet with their team & founders. Stay tuned!

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