Ref: IMD-7-2331

Case study

Reference: IMD-7-2331

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How COVID-19 Tests Entrepreneurs' Agility (A): Success Hanging in the Balance

Heather Cairns-Lee

By Adjunct Professor Heather Cairns-LeeHeather Cairns-Lee, Angelika Kipor, Sabina Djuric, Ekaterina Risovanaya and Brice Mahé

Case A focuses on how entrepreneurs and leaders deal with sudden unexpected events and crises. It describes the tensions that Russian female entrepreneur and CEO Anastasia Tatulova had to deal with in response to the coronavirus pandemic that wrought wide-scale disruption on society and businesses across the world. Tatulova founded the AnderSon café to address a lack of family-friendly cafés in Russia. Having started in 2009 with a single café in Moscow, AnderSon celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2019 as a chain of 52 cafés in Russia and neighboring countries. It employed 1,500 staff in its cafés and in the “Factory of Happiness,” which produced the confectionery sold in the cafés. At the beginning of 2020, Tatulova was poised to expand her business with outside investment, but by March, as COVID-19 triggered restrictions and the shutdown of society, her core business was paralyzed by a 90% drop in sales. This put her in the critical situation of having to fight for AnderSon’s survival. Along with other small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Russia, AnderSon was obliged to pay staff during the lockdown and received very limited government support. The case highlights the struggles that Tatulova faced and it ends with her having to decide what to do with her business.

Learning Objective

• Learn about entrepreneurial orientation and growth mindset to support agile leadership to address shocks and challenges in crisis situations.
• Illustrate how fortunes can be suddenly disrupted and map responses to crisis; Examine the impact of a crisis and explore the possible responses that leaders have.
• Demonstrate the importance of agility; Explore how leaders make decisions in rapidly changing and unpredictable environments.
• Identify the core attributes of a growth mindset; Illustrate the difference and consequences between fixed mindset and growth mindset.

Keywords Agility, Pandemic
Settings Russia
AnderSon Café
Type Field Research
Copyright ©IMD 2021
Language English
Related material Teaching note
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Reference: IMD-7-2331

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