Startups Finding Opportunity in COVID Times
By Doaa Hamed
Entrepreneurship plays a fundamental and a vital role in economic growth, job creation, technological innovation, solving people’s problems, creating new markets, improving society’s standard of living, and emergence of leadership skills. Startups as a form of entrepreneurship are catalysts for innovation and creation, as well as finding new business opportunities.
Paul Burns, Emeritus Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Bedfordshire in the UK, in his book New Venture Creation: A Framework for Entrepreneurial Startups (2018), stated that, “Essentially it [a startup] is about finding a solution to a problem that a sufficient number of people are willing to pay for and that you are able to deliver”.
Existing startups have reacted fast and developed new services and products to overcome the pandemic impacts on their businesses. The pandemic has inspired many startups to convert challenges to opportunities and identify what the actual demand of the people is and then start working on it.
One of these startups is MachineMetrics that was founded in 2015. MachineMetrics is an industrial IoT analytics and machine monitoring platform that empowers customers through real-time data that enables them to solve manufacturing problems. During the outbreak of COVID-19, the company has developed remote technology monitoring to help manufacturers monitor their factory productivity and supply chains from afar.
In addition, the company created a program to give any company interested in COVID-19-related manufacturing, such as ventilator components, testing, and protective equipment, or any COVID-19-related manufacturing, free access to its technologies.
In addition, new startups have been launched in order to respond to the change in the markets and consumers’ new demands. One of these is LessonLeap that was founded in October 2020. The COVID-19 lockdown inspired entrepreneur Anusha Mahalingam with her friend and Harvard Business School colleague Deepti Sahi to start LessonLeap as an EdTech platform that offers live courses in life skills and targets students from kindergarten to the sixth grade. The platform provides fun-filled live sessions to students on public speaking, language command skills, and writing.
In a nutshell, the outbreak of COVID-19, on the one hand, has presented a challenge for existing startups to survive and grow. Accessing sufficient cash flow and funds to run and grow is one of the various challenges that has faced existing startups. Founders and co-founders of startups have had difficulties in managing the available limited amount of cash to cover expenses during this economic uncertainty. On the other hand, this global pandemic opened up the gates of opportunities to entrepreneurs to introduce their innovative ideas that tackle and solve the new challenges resulting from the pandemic.