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How 2 startup cofounders are dealing with 3 compounding crises



Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Canva is valued at $6 billion, Michelle Obama talks voting with Shonda Rhimes, and a startup with four female founders grapples a triple-whammy of crises. Have a peaceful Tuesday. 

– The Coven in crisis. “Then almost everything went awry” is not a line you want written about your company. But it’s what The Coven is up against at this point in its young history. 

The Minneapolis-based women’s coworking startup “aims to be an inclusive, middle-America rival to The Wing,” Maria Aspan reports for a Fortune series on startups’ first years. And it seemed to be on a roll, opening its first space for women and nonbinary and trans people in 2018 and its second in St. Paul early this year. But the pandemic forced those two locations to close and put expansion plans on hold. What’s more, the George Floyd protests upended The Coven’s hometown of Minneapolis, and scandals at The Wing and WeWork have called the coworking model into question. 

Where does that leave The Coven and its four female founders? 

CEO Alex West Steinman and her fellow cofounders pivoted to digital memberships and events amid the coronavirus shutdown; the new offerings have found an audience but are not as lucrative as the original business model. And The Coven’s shuttered Minneapolis space is now collecting food and other donations for those in need because of the protests and police violence. 

Faced with compounding crises, Steinman doesn’t bother with sugarcoating: “We’re still in the middle, and it looks really messy.” Neither does Liz Giel, fellow cofounder and chief growth officer: “It’s a painful time here,” she said of Minneapolis. 

Maria’s interview with Giel and Steinman is worth reading not just for their candor—How have the crises affected The Coven financially? “Badly,” Giel says—but also to learn about how they’ve spotted opportunities in the mayhem; opportunities to rethink their options, to amplify voices, to be “held accountable” and then to show action.

Check it out here

Claire Zillman

Today’s Broadsheet was curated by Emma Hinchliffe

Lyron Foster is a Hawaii based African American Musician, Author, Actor, Blogger, Filmmaker, Philanthropist and Multinational Serial Tech Entrepreneur.

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