The Covid-19 pandemic changed how we socialize and celebrate special occasions. For Ershad Zamani pivoting was not an option, it was the only way his business had a chance to survive.
Innovation is often the result of a sudden awakening. The new reality brought to us by Covid19 has forced small business owners to rethink, reinvent, and transform their businesses. This study shows how Ershad Zamani was able to make the transition of his business, 360sitevisit, from doing virtual tours for venues to creating virtual expos and fairs. In the new normal, post-COVID-19, virtual events will continue to be in high demand, operating parallel to physical venue visits and traditional in-person expo attendances. The Hispanic Entrepreneurship Training Program (HETP) of the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey stepped in to help business owners pivot during this unprecedented period in our history. This case study demonstrates how this was accomplished by Ershad Zamani with SHCCNJ’s business coaching.
As with most businesses, Covid-19 brought revenue to a halt for 360sitevisit. Event venues were hit the hardest due to social distancing and restrictions on large group gatherings during the pandemic. As a result, events were canceled, new bookings decreased, and people looked for alternative ways to celebrate during the quarantine. In order to pivot, Ershad revisited his business model and searched for ways to:
- repurpose resources
- create a new product/service
- identify and reach a new market segment
- pitch a new value proposition
- build partnerships for the value added by virtual events
- expand into new channels
- develop a new revenue stream
How HETP helped Ershad’s business
Ershad Zamani graduated from the HETP 2020 program, just before the outbreak of the pandemic. For Ershad, HETP was an extremely valuable experience: “I highly recommend the program and encourage small business owners. For any business owner, it is not enough to just know the trade well. The success and failure of any business is a combination of technical trade knowledge and business structure and organization savviness. HETP offers the latter to help small business thrive.” He stated.
360sitevisit was part of a group of 50 businesses participating in a 15-week program that started in January 2020. After the group classes were completed in mid-March, Ershad began individual coaching sessions. It was during coaching that Ershad realized the incredible and timely value he could bring to the market by adding other services such virtual events to his product offerings; better yet, he made the decision to create a 3D virtual space to host events such as expos and fairs. HETP coaches, Reina Valenzuela and Valeria Aloe, provided guidance during the development phase of the product, helped Ershad with his value proposition, client proposal, and assisted him to close on his first contract. The SHCCNJ was in the search of a virtual space to hold one of its signature events and it simply made sense to open the doors to an HETP program graduate.
A new revenue stream for 360sitevisit became a reality in a record period of three months, including the design of a new product “Virtual Expo 3D Space” and a new service “Virtual expo and fair hosting”. With one contract completed and two more scheduled, Ershad is on its way to capturing a market share post-COVID-19.
“The outcome was unimaginably successful. From the time of graduation to today, I’ve closed one virtual expo deal and 2 deals in conversation. With the help of HETP, I was able to think outside of my comfort zone and expand my business. This would not have happened if it wasn’t for HETP’s program. It is because of HETP that I was able to pivot to another avenue in my business. Thanks to HETP, 360sitevisit not only does virtual tours for venues we are now in the virtual expo business, showcasing grand expo events virtually” declares Ershad.