Matthew Clayton is the executive chairman and CEO of Vancouver-based LOOPshare, an electric transportation company using advanced telematics and app-based software in a variety of industry sectors. They recently introduced their services to Victoria. He was also the co-founder of bioLytical Laboratories, a private medical diagnostic company focusing on the rapid detection of the HIV 1/2 antibodies.
How is Loop coping right now?
I think like all companies we have ups and downs, good days and struggles. We were a month away from a full launch in B.C. with industry partners, and watched the entire opportunity evaporate. The mental impact of a blow like this has been something each of us at Loop has had to come to terms with. As a leader of an organization, these were tough and humbling conversations to have with staff.
How has the crisis affected your business, and how do you anticipate it will affect it?
With having to put our business model on hold, it has affected our cash flow projections, and the ability to scale and grow the opportunity both in Canada and the United States. Transportation of freight is very challenging right now, and we lost almost eight weeks with manufacturing in China with COVID-19 striking there first. We have been forced to cut staff hours, eliminate consulting services, and have had to do everything we can to conserve cash flow. Our focus is a pivot to “delivery” using our scooters and technology in ways that were not part of the initial Loop launch. Our mantra at Loop right now is innovate, be there for each other and our community, and do whatever it takes to be ready for business in a post COVID-19 marketplace.
How are you supporting your clients and staff?
We are looking at all the options we have with provincial and federal aid for our employees. We are using Zoom regularly, as it enhances the feeling of the team being together and not separated. With our clients, it’s about approaching each of them on an individual basis and finding solutions that can help each other in these unprecedented times. Sometimes it’s just about listening to your colleagues and being a group that can provide a morale boost when the business landscape feels so uncertain.
What is the opportunity in the challenge for you and the business?
The opportunity is to test our resilience as a company and as individuals, and to take innovation on as a core business challenge. We are going to show the market that we are not just in the business of moving people, we have the ability to use our zero emissions units to deliver and array of products including food, wine and spirits, medical supplies and prescriptions from local pharmacies. There is always opportunity; [the question is] what lens are you looking through?
What advice have you applied or are you applying from previous experiences coping through crises?
That nothing is ever certain, and you simply cannot forecast everything in a business plan. 9/11 happened, the financial crisis in 2008 was a reality, and COVID-19 showed us that the earth is more powerful than any one person, country, bank or government. The lesson is to be prepared for the unexpected, and have the mental strength, courage, and ability, to pivot when life demands it. I have always referred to it as be a “chameleon in a suit.”
What are your resources right now? Do you have a mentor supporting you, peer group, books you read?
My family, friends, and colleagues make up my support team. I have been reading Shoe Dog by Phil Knight of Nike and it is an inspirational story and a helpful lift when things aren’t ideal. I am also out in my garden a lot and find that having an outlet is important to escape from the home office and Zoom-based existence we have all had to embrace.
What advice do you have for others experiencing this alongside you?
Avoid too much media consumption around all of this. I think there will be many lessons learned, and my hope is we start to reshuffle values and what’s important. In a world where social media is all around us, it is important to have a strong filter about what you let in; an expression that has always stuck with me is “thoughts become things — be careful.” The glass can be half empty or half full, you have a choice. My mother always said, this too shall pass. It will, and when it’s over, let’s hope we are better prepared as a globe for dealing with these threats that will continue to be a reality.