By now, we’ve all seen the economy impacted in ways that no one could have imagined. Many people are out of work and scores of businesses are on the brink of closing.
It’s tough to witness, but one thing that inspires me is seeing companies pivot creatively and quickly as a response to the coronavirus. Whether they’re finding ways to stay in business or creating much-needed medical supplies, these changes can give us hope.
On a high level, we’re probably aware by now of which types of pivots make sense – things like home delivery, online content, online meetings, and PPE manufacturing. But I still love to see real examples in the wild.
As someone who’s worked remotely for almost a decade and been a part of the digital economy for many years, I’ve been watching the world move slowly but surely in this direction. Over the coming decade, we can only expect this transition to pick up momentum.
As tragic as this outbreak has been, it also seems to be accelerating humanity’s shift towards what I believe is a brighter future.
Without further ado, here are some of the cool pivots that I’ve seen lately:
10 Inspiring Coronavirus Business Pivots
1. Mobile Escape
Mobile Escape is a start-up that delivers escape room programming to schools. With schools closed indefinitely and students at home with limited learning opportunities, the company created EscapeMail.
EscapeMail delivers the same style of escape room adventure, in a convenient, affordable, socially distanced package.
2. Keep Your City Smiling
Keep Your City Smiling is providing gift boxes to help struggling local businesses. The team behind an events company in Seattle pivoted to this gift box idea — within 4 days of creating the concept. They offer quality products, sourced from local small businesses, in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and LA.
3. Dave Craige’s Masks for Nurses and Doctors
Dave Craige, founder of TheStudio.io, an open source community, pivoted his consulting company to a non-profit. Their mission? Get 100K masks into the hands of nurses and doctors. They’re doing this through HelpHospitals.io, a spreadsheet that organizes all the different hospitals and what they need at this time.
Punchpass launched a Zoom integration (in a week) to let their clients – mostly small fitness and yoga studios – transition from teaching in-person classes to virtual ones. The result? Awesome stories of clients being able to keep their businesses alive while encouraging fellow quarantiners to move. Meanwhile, the founder of UK-based gym 1Rebel has offered up the gym’s studios to the NHS, which could make space for approximately 300 to 400 beds.
5. Ventilators in Italy
It’s no secret that ventilators have been running low. That’s why I loved learning about 500 patients in northern Italian hospitals who are receiving specially-produced ventilators. These ventilators are made from hacked scuba gear that was shipped by Decathlon and enhanced by 3D printed parts. Meanwhile, 3D printing company MarkForged has designed and scaled 3D printed nasal swabs and facial shields.
6. Online Pasta-Making Workshops
One 84-year-old Italian grandmother has had the perfect reaction to her country going into lockdown. Nonna Nerina usually runs pasta-making workshops in the countryside around an hour north of Rome in Italy. However, due to the current isolation measures, she had to cancel all her classes. Now, with her granddaughter Chiara, Nerina has taken her classes online. Nonna is one of the many phenomenal chefs pivoting to share their culinary gifts digitally. For those of us running out of ideas at home, it’s back to getting creative in the kitchen again.
Just days before the markets crashed, San Diego tech company Cloudbeds raised the biggest round of startup money seen locally all year. Now, the company is using its staff — and its lengthy list of hotel customers — to help find available rooms and beds for COVID-19 patients.
8. Hand Sanitizer
Andy Didorosi, founder of Detroit Bus Company and Head of Marketing at Basecamp, started making hand sanitizer. He’s got the right idea – check out this list of over 100 distilleries that are doing the same thing, including favorites like Anheuser-Busch and Austin’s very own Tito’s. Meanwhile, phone-charging station company ChargedUp has shifted its charging stations to hand sanitizer stations, in an initiative called CleanedUp.
Bauer, the hockey equipment company, switched from making gear for the ice to creating medical gear inspired by protection for athletes. They’ve designed medical shields to be worn in conjunction with regular medical masks to provide total facial protection. In Minnesota, sportswear company WSI, which produces clothes for big league and college sports teams, has shifted to making protective masks for hospitals, first responders, and retail stores.
10. Masks by Fashion Brands
Reformation, a women’s sustainable fashion brand, has partnered with the city of Los Angeles to use their factories to produce millions of masks for essential workers. This is just one of the many fashion brands pivoting to reallocate factory resources and create masks and gowns — joining the ranks of companies like Dior, Nordstrom, and Prada.
I’ve started to aggregate these pivots in an Airtable, so that people can easily discover and browse them, search by business category or type of pivot, etc.
In times of crisis, it’s easy to feel discouraged by the flood of stressful news.
But you can take solace in knowing that heroes and helpers are always out there if you know where to look. You might even be one of them.
We hope these real-world examples can provide some inspiration for businesses that are struggling to survive to find some creative solutions to stay afloat.
If you would like to submit a pivot, feel free to add one here or drop a comment below. We could always use some good news.
Kalen Jordan is the founder of Commerce Hero – a hiring platform for software developers in eCommerce.