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How coronavirus got to Purrweb

Thought we dodged this bullet. But that’s how it turned out… 

Actually, all the December’s hype over the COVID-19 epidemic surprisingly passed us by. Well, that wasn’t a real surprise indeed —  we are far away, and therefore the state of ‘universal protection from terrible disease’ seems pretty logical. Projects were getting done, and the whole ‘coronavirus’ thing was just a nice prelude to any business talk.

So, Purrweb kept working as usual and no one from the team was really obsessed with this topic. As for me, I kept repeating to myself: ‘If customers don’t worry about it, then why should it bother us?’ This seemed perfectly fine to live with.

The alleged ‘charm against epidemic’ stopped working earlier this year. At first, it failed to work once. And then, in March, the epidemic shook us up three more times — all in one week. Let’s dive into the topic and talk about what happened.

1. Finished product didn’t get to release

The first blow to the head came from China. Well, quite predictable, isn’t it? We have developed a power bank renting service for a Russian startup — the application was already finished by December. A small team worked on the project: we have designed the product interface and completed the development phase. Last but not least, the most important step remained —  releasing the app and testing it on real users.

Why did it fail? The whole thing depended on suppliers from China who were supposed to send the necessary equipment. Supposed to, but did not.

Client: ‘Prepaid delivery from China is delayed due to coronavirus. 700 items :(‘  

Releasing the application without the hardware had no sense. As a result: the equipment has been delayed for a month and a half, and the project was put on hold.

2. Suspended product development

This story is about our client for whom we’ve built 2 event management services at once: both were put into production and were already generating profit. The applications were on the stage of support and enhancement: pre-planned tasks were being gradually covered in the 2-week sprints framework. Work went on, applications were sold to conferences and exhibitions. It seemed that everything ran like clockwork.

The situation changed dramatically when the organizers of conferences and exhibitions began to cancel events due to the coronavirus. Our client stopped receiving money, and the service development budget was running out. As a result — I think you know what happened here, right?

Over the next few days, two more clients shared this disappointing news:

What conclusions did we make?

After all these events, a few thoughts have settled in my head:

  • The coronavirus has turned into a media epidemic. This whole story seems funny when your mom sends you a memo picture ‘Protect yourself from an epidemic.’ And it turns into a real headache if your own and your clients’ businesses suffer from it.
  • Project drawdowns will occur as long as the coronavirus is in the air. And on the air, especially. News about the epidemic is on heavy rotation, which is why conferences, film festivals and mass festivities get postponed or cancelled. What can I say, even football matches will have to be watched at home. All that seems pretty sad 🙁
  • Ventilate. And ventilate again. Freezing projects and customers losing profits —-  this is hellishly painful. The cause of all these events, alas, is out of our control. None of us has the superpower to cure the afflicted Chinese, Italians and Tom Hanks. However, we have two other skills: the ability to develop cool products and take care of our own health. And these are damn cool!

By an odd coincidence, we’ve decided to set up a chat bot this fall, which regularly asks us to ventilate the room. It is an annoying, but helpful reminder to open windows at least 3-4 times a day. As though we saw it in the crystal ball 🙂

The bot has settled in our office chat. Hard worker, works even on holidays 😀

Everything goes by, this too shall pass: coronavirus will become part of the history, and something else will replace it. As already happened with swine and that second flu (forgot its name). Well, the sooner the better 🙂

Wish you good health and cool projects!