Reflections on Launching 12 Startups During COVID

And comparison with a pre-COVID cohort

Pete Lead
6 min readJul 9, 2020
Photo by Andrew Butler on Unsplash

We just launched 12 startups in ten weeks in a Masters elective subject at the University of Sydney Business School in Australia. As this semester was during a COVID isolation stage, how does it compare to pre-COVID performance and experience for the same class?

While I think the learning experience was better this semester, getting easy access to customers is so pivotal to the lean startup process that it hurt the startups’ progress. It made the process harder for the founders, which probably increased learning, but it forced them to expend more energy on ‘simple’ things like finding people to interview.

It also slowed their progress meaning that, in the same amount of time, fewer reached revenue and the average revenue was lower.


Twelve startups did a final pitch. But in reality there were about 14 or 15 throughout the semester. Groups were allocated around one of the individual student “problem pitches”, and some groups chose to abandon that in the first few weeks and pursue something else. One group split up a month in, having somewhat invalidated their original problem space. Half of that…



Pete Lead

I work with startups, teach entrepreneurship, and freelance in improv and leadership coaching.