On this Tuesday 21 April, World Creativity and Innovation Day, the Luxembourg Creative Industries Cluster organised CREAction, the first webinar dedicated to creative industries “in action”, to support the essential role that this sector can play in the current situation.
“This World Day of Creativity and Innovation was initiated in the early 2000s by a Canadian lady who wanted to get involved so that creativity would be more widely recognised. She also wanted to ensure that creativity is closely linked to all kinds of problem solving.. This is exactly what creative people are thinking about today”, explained Marc Lis, the Luxembourg Creative Industries Cluster’s manager, in the opening part of this webinar.
For this first episode, more than 80 people attended live presentations by three CEOs, themselves creative, who testified how they had to adapt to the new economic and societal situation.
Intended as intelligent personal (or professional) assistants, these two services very quickly found themselves deprived of a large part of their content and core business. “When the health crisis was announced, we were in a bit of denial and thought we could fall through the cracks,” said Ms Pins. “But soon enough, we had to put in place manual procedures to keep track of all the events that were cancelled one after the other, which our super algorithm obviously didn’t anticipate”.
At first, Supermiro’s offer then focused on good addresses, local business, until, very quickly, all leisure establishments (bars, restaurants…) were closed. “From March 16, our happy team operated in teleworking mode and we had to recode half of our platforms to enable our system to understand new types of content, including online training for Helloboss. We’ve never had as much time as we do now to train and do things we didn’t necessarily have the opportunity to do before. And we’ve tried to keep as much flexibility as possible to highlight local initiatives. Supporting local business has always been part of our mission, and today more than ever”.
Keeping up the dynamism
The adaptation has, a priori, been rather successful, since eLfy Pins explains that even in the absence of events, a good part of the Supermiro and Helloboss traffic has been retained.
The alternative content that Supermiro offers to reinvent itself is, first of all, an offbeat look at the news, but also new formats such as Canap’events to promote local business. It also allows users to take part in fun and humorous activities: an e-blind test, culinary experiences…
“It is important to continue to talk positively about Luxembourg and to show how dynamic and lively people are. Just like us”, says Ms Pins.
The fact remains that while the content has adapted to the situation, the business model inevitably suffers. “Cancelled events, like the Schueberfouer, are also cancelled contracts. Of course, we wonder how things will go ‘afterwards’, but we also take advantage of this moment to integrate a whole bunch of new features that we hadn’t had the chance to do before. So when real life comes back, we’ll have an even better product.”
Getting the right vibes across
The return to “normal” life is obviously a prospect that everyone has in mind. Kamel Amroune, the CEO of the print and digital event and content agency Farvest, is aware of this. “We have media and communities that we nurture and bring to life in this particular situation,” he said. “We are seeing an explosion in the number of visitors to our platforms, even if business is not keeping up. That doesn’t stop us from trying to do something for others and get good vibes out there. It’s not demagoguery. We’re doing it with the means we have, and if it’s good for others, so much the better.”
In a desire to accompany and support the B2B community, Farvest has therefore initiated the #YouAreNotAlone movement, designed to promote solidarity between players who are all affected by this situation. “The idea is to share our respective daily lives, good actions or measures implemented, ideas and also to make sure that we can help people who go out into the field every day, especially care workers. No one is alone at such times and we have seen how much everyone thinks of everyone else,” Mr Amroune was pleased to say.
It is takingthis same philosophical approach that the Brainfeed web platform was invented: an internet portal that will be online next week and on which will be posted all the computer graphics and other graphic creations made for clients by creative people.
Another way to showcase their know-how and expertise. “This provides an additional communication channel for a freelancer who does such graphic work,” Amroune said.
Another web initiative is the online hackathon “Hack the crisis” organised by Docler Holding in collaboration with its subsidiary Farvest, the House of Startups and the Junction community, which will take place on 24 and 25 April and all the sponsorships collected will be donated to charity.
“Today we’re talking about smart nation and technology,” Amroune said, “We believe that all of this will eventually become just a convenience and that the difference will be made through creativity. Moving from a ‘Smart nation’ to a ‘Creative nation’ is what will save us. And I am also banking on collective intelligence: we are currently in a situation where a lot of services are offered for free, but everyone will understand, when business picks up again, that we will have to sell services again.”
Opportunities to be taken advantage of
Being creative, Johnny Lagneau, CEO of Warrigal Innovation Studio, needed to do this in the early days of the restrictions in the country. “In a very short period of time, we had no clients and no prospects,” he said. “We had the choice between lamenting and filing for bankruptcy, or forcing our fate to take advantage of this catastrophic situation to turn it into a situation of opportunity. We chose the second option, relying on what we do best: initiating innovation and building web and mobile applications.”
And so Warrigal launched three separate projects, each with its own specific purpose. The first is the europ-alerts.com website, a platform that publishes, in real time, the flow of government information issued by the authorities in Italy, Belgium, France and Luxembourg, in order to provide accurate, unchanged and straightforward information.
Then came the free market place City-Commerces.com, mainly focused on Belgian Luxembourg – where Johnny Lagneau lives – allowing local businesses to benefit from new sales opportunities. “They can very easily create a list of products they can sell and the transaction fee is a maximum of 2%, which corresponds to the bank transaction costs. For buyers, this platform is free of charge. We are currently rolling out this market place and we already have the first users coming on board.”
Latest platform online: Kyosai.eu, which is a self-help website dedicated to small businesses, entrepreneurs and freelancers. “Some have been able to continue their activities despite the crisis, but others have come to a complete standstill.
Kyosai enables the former to share their know-how and achievements with the latter who need them. Here, too, the first users are making themselves known. The idea is to ensure that this platform will continue to exist after the crisis.”
These various projects have also led to a more global reflection on the activities of the Warrigal studio itself, which has changed its business model from a “traditional” agency to a subscription model, allowing extreme flexibility and giving clients – generally start-ups and SMEs – access to innovative solutions “at a reasonable cost and by making all our teams and skills available to them”.
See you on 28 April and 5 May
Knowing how to be well surrounded and know how to surround yourself: this is one of the lessons that eLfy Pins is learning from the current situation. “It’s crucial to always be able to talk to those close to us, to be able to challenge ourselves. I’ve always had mentors around me whom I call on regularly, and probably more often now. Even with friends on the other side of the world, we exchange our points of view, we think. It’s essential to never be alone in your corner, especially in bad times.”
Two more webinars are already scheduled, in English, on 28 April and 5 May. The first one will present other players and initiatives from the creative industries community during this health crisis and the second one will allow an exchange with experts to discuss the role that the creative industries have to play in finding solutions during and after the crisis.