Christian Vaughan, Disguise

Christian Vaughan, Disguise

The best way for a business to survive the pandemic is to rip up any plans they previously had, says Christian Vaughan, the Chief Marketing Officer at Disguise, which makes technology for live and virtual shows.

Christian Vaughan, the Chief Marketing Officer at Disguise, says businesses need to take a pragmatic approach to getting through the Covid pandemic.

He said: “You have to let go of whatever plans you have and re-imagine what the future looks like. You need to start again with your thinking and consider, how do I make an opportunity out of this situation. if you don’t do that then you are sleep walking into something that might be a disaster for your business.”

He added: “The Covid crisis favours entrepreneurial, intelligent, fast-moving thinking so the more nimble you are and the better strategist you are, the more likely you are to survive and create opportunities.”

For Disguise, that has meant instantly pivoting from providing software for live concerts and theatrical performances to providing it for virtual ones. Prior to the pandemic, the majority of Disguise’s revenue came from software for live concert performances, but when the pandemic hit it immediately accelerated the launch of a new digital product by several months, which provided extended reality LED stages for virtual productions. It also gave away its software for free to people in the industry who were struggling and provided free online training to users.

As a result of its prompt actions, Disguise has been able to quadruple its database of software users since the start of the pandemic.

Christian said: “When Covid struck we just went all in for digital and educated the whole market like crazy. We produced a hundred webinars to share knowledge and information with our customers and partners and help upskill them and we accelerated all our digital activities to connect with clients remotely. This was something we were going to do gradually anyway but instead we just said, right let’s go for it.”

Christian said that businesses should look for any positives arising from the Covid crisis situation, particularly those that might enable them to grow their business in a different way. He said: “Embrace the fact that working from home gives you access to a wider talent pool. Instead of just recruiting in London, for example, you can now recruit for intelligent people all round the country and round the world, no matter where they are located. For us, for example, working remotely opens up the talent pool of talented engineers and programmers anywhere in the world.”

He said that businesses should prioritise the welfare of their employees and explore online tools and platforms to help them still feel part of a team while they work from home.

“Look for digital tools and platforms that enable you to recreate what you were doing before in a virtual way and allow that creative dynamic to flourish. There is a very good piece of software we have been using that allows our team the ability to brainstorm together and create the connection they needed.”

He said it is also important for businesses to continue to monitor, assess and adapt their new plans as the situation unfolds. “Nobody knows when this is going to end, so you need to scenario plan the outcomes that could happen and keep reviewing these on a weekly or monthly basis. If you don’t do that you will not be strategically well positioned to survive, whatever may or may not happen.”

Christian said that despite the ongoing uncertainty, businesses still need to make decisions for the long term: “The danger is that people don’t think ahead. You need to model out how the future might be. “For our business, for example, because our customers and our systems are used to having face to face connections, we modelled out what would happen if that doesn’t come back for a long time. It is that old classic thing – plan for the worst but expect the best. You have to think about what the new world will look like and what part you want to play in that.”

Christian’s top tips for businesses right now

1. Model out the future and look at what products and services are going to bring the revenue in.

2. Throw everything out of the window that isn’t part of the new world. Stop doing anything that isn’t relevant to where the opportunity is for you.

3. Invest cautiously in the things that will help you bring revenue in.

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