Ecosystem Impact Review: The Pandemic Period 2020-22

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Why are we doing this review now?

We have always been committed to contributing positive and meaningful impact for scale-up leaders and their businesses. We want to be sure we are deploying our products and time where we have the greatest positive impact. 

As 2022 gets underway, we want to step back and reflect on what has gone well and what we will take forward. 

When the pandemic, and lock-downs, hit the UK, we grouped together to decide how best to respond at Horizon37. We knew we would need to take a hit on revenue and we didn’t know if we could survive ourselves. But we agreed to stick with one simple principle: ‘Be Valuable’. Since then we innovated and contributed, much pro bono. 

Looking back now, I think we can say that we have won hard-earned success as a business. We took a big hit on our own revenue, and weathered a lot of stress and uncertainty, but we stayed focussed on customer impact and worked through it, shoulder to shoulder with the business leaders facing their own challenges and committed to continue delivering their mission and sustaining their businesses in these tough times. 

Katy Tuncer, Director of Programmes and Founder, Horizon37

We are confident, with strong support and opportunity, to stay sustainable and grow ourselves now. We want to be systematic about our pro bono contribution going forward as we ourselves grow and continue to work with amazing world changing leaders. 

Our Pro Bono Leadership Coaching Contribution

We responded to needs and committed to being valuable through the pandemic, regardless of ability to pay. 

During 2020-22, Our pro bono leadership support included:
  • Providing 50 sessions of Lightning Coaching
  • Delivering Community Refresh Workshops
  • Offering leadership support through our Valuable Mentors programme to HERA. Coaching the mentors who work with women on the HERA programme – survivors of trafficking for sexual exploitation. 
  • Provision of Culture audit tool
  • Working with Street Games – Delivering a mindsets workshop with the exec team. 
  • KidBiz – Supporting an after-school entrepreneur’s club in primary schools for 9-11 year olds. We created a curriculum for students to understand and get a feel for starting and running a business, with exercises including ice-cream selling simulation with gravel as money. Delivered the 6 component programme at schools in South Cambs and North Oxford. Over Zoom during lockdown.
  • Journeys of Angels – Oxford/Cambridge collaboration. We facilitated and supported two workshops for the leading angel investors in both cities to identify opportunities for cross-arc collaboration. 
  • Support of CAMEntrepreneurs.

Selecting where to deploy

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Our team at Horizon37 is motivated by impact. We are a finite and valuable resource. Even if we didn’t need to make a living and could dedicate ourselves 100% to pro bono work, we would need to be selective. 

As a female founder-led company, it is entirely normal that we experience greater demand and expectation for us to provide free services.

Katy Tuncer: As a female founder, I feel a great obligation – both externally and from within me – to be there for people who need our support. During the pandemic, I’ve found that the special skills we have, have been even more acutely needed. I didn’t want us to let anyone down. At one of my own low points, a mentor advised me to “stop trying to underwrite the pandemic for everyone else”. There were times I felt I couldn’t carry on, with four primary school aged children and no childcare support, but looking back I’m immensely proud to see what we could do for people. We were coaching leaders who unstuck, boosted, untangled, prioritised, motivated, survived… they did a better job of leading their teams, they stayed on their feet! And beyond the feelgood of it all, I’m humble and grateful that our own business is now enjoying recognition, goodwill and opportunity to grow beyond where we were pre-pandemic. 

Katy Tuncer, Director of Programmes and Founder, Horizon37

We select what to say yes to, based on our ability to be Valuable. As with our regular programmes, we set a high bar to ensure the resource and time we deploy makes a positive and valuable difference. We are specialists, and we are highly effective, trained, and brilliant at leadership coaching in scale-ups. It makes sense to align our volunteering with our skills, and focus where we make a tangible difference. 

So, we have had to say no to many requests to volunteer our time to contribute value by giving expert talks, coaching sessions, or delivering free 1:1 coaching to individuals. We say no when we judge that the beneficiaries are not able to benefit maximally from what we provide (e.g. who are not leaders of innovation, or who are not well placed or committed to fully engage with the coaching we can offer). 

We have also said no to “marketing opportunities” by attending events to give us “exposure”. It simply isn’t our business model.  Our core value proposition is working with groups, so unlike say, a law firm, head hunter, or a marketing consultancy, delivering working sessions at networking events is, for us, delivery of our product rather than marketing. 

Our approach to “marketing” is to say thank you for the many generous referrals we have.

We are sorry if we have said no to something you would have liked us to do. Please do ask again in the future, and in particular please help us make sure that if we say yes, we can be as valuable as possible! 

Next Steps for Horizon37 and our customers

Our customers are innovating faster than ever. The ecosystem is benefitting from extensive funding. Those having survived the challenges of the pandemic, demonstrated resilience and positioned now for scale-up, will shape the economic future for the country and the world.

We find ourselves in a stronger position as a business now, with great recognition of our impact during the pandemic, good will and referrals as a result. We are scaling our business, fully immersing ourselves in the start of that well-trodden but challenging journey that we coach our customers on. 

We expect to continue having a lot of requests for pro bono support. In order to ensure we can provide maximum value, we have formalised our selection criteria:

  1. Valuable: Our contribution will have a significant positive impact on the performance and sustainability of the beneficiary’s leadership and business
  2. Aligned: The beneficiary’s business mission is, or has potential to be, transformative and groundbreaking
  3. Committed: The beneficiary is able and committed to take and use the full value of what we offer to achieve results that matter to them and their businesses
  4. Efficient: Delivery of our product and time will be efficient – with a high proportion of time spent on value vs admin, negotiation, and discussion. 

If you fit these criteria and would like to receive leadership support, please apply here:

And, as we move through 2022, we will continue to support innovative, world changing businesses on their leadership journeys, and uphold our commitment to be valuable.