When the coronavirus was declared as a global pandemic, nobody could have predicted the magnitude of economic destruction it would cause. Restaurants, entertainment, sports, and brick and-mortar retail have all been particularly hard hit, with many businesses closing and public life is severely restricted. Startups are particularly vulnerable in all but a few industries. But not all startups have gone into crisis mode.
We look at three startups in various stages of development in different sectors that all have one thing in common. These are businesses that help people socially separate themselves from others.
During the pandemic, video meetings have become an integral part of work, education, and entertainment for many people, and Zoom has emerged as one of the 2020’s biggest corporate success stories. The business has seen a significant increase in the number of people using its free service, and it has been working hard to turn many of those people into paying customers. Few start-ups have seen such rapid growth as Zoom, which went from 10 million average regular meeting participants in December 2019 to over 300 million by late April 2020. Eric Yuan, the founder, and CEO of Zoom Video Communications said, “The way people communicate will be forever changed.”
To remain ahead of proven tech titans like Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and Facebook, the once scrappy start-up kept innovating. Zoom has also had to deal with the nagging notion that it is made in China and that foreign agents are listening in. Yuan acknowledged in early April that several meetings were wrongly routed through China to tackle traffic surges. Some schools have stopped using Zoom for online classes that have become popular since February due to security concerns, though the company’s efforts to enhance security have prompted some to return. Zoom is now used by more than 100,000 schools around the world for online classes, according to the company.
Instacart, a startup founded by former Amazon engineer Apoorva Mehta to assist brick-and-mortar grocers is becoming successful online since January 2012. Since then, the company has measured its performance in terms of scale, quickly expanding into new global markets and adding new features aimed at making supermarket e-commerce irresistible to customers. Then, in March 2020, the company has a spike in its growth.
Nearly 750,000 shoppers have been shopping on the Instacart platform since the COVID outbreak and most of them were employed during the pandemic crisis. There are often self-employed individuals who pick orders and deliver them to customers’ homes. The business, which employs around 2,000 full-time employees, has 100,000 shoppers picking orders on any given week. Instacart has started to offer alcohol and prescription delivery from Costco, and cosmetics from Sephora. More than 85 percent of households in the United States and more than 70 percent of households in Canada now have access to Instacart.
The year 2020 saw a rise of newer lifestyle approaches, where health care and physical and mental well-being dominated the social media discussions. When India was shut down and people were confined to their homes, many switched to online health care apps to keep in shape. The unicorn startup remedy was to cash in on the trend. fit that began with celebrity trainer-led online classes and workout workshops, online personal training, and a DIY content library. These features enabled customers to work out from wherever they were and were also charged a cost lower than what they would have charged for offline services.
The startup is currently providing its services for free in the United States, but Bansal confirmed that the company would soon launch premium plans for the market. Cure.fit has a lot of potential in the United States, but it will be difficult for the Indian startup to break into the more developed and mature market. Small gyms and other fitness-focused studios abound in the United States, as do a slew of well-funded startups like Mirror and Peloton, and proven brands like Nike and Adidas have launched their clothing and subscription services.
The Bottom Line
Most Businesses are putting a greater focus on digital and virtual service offerings. The 2020 pandemic has obligated companies to rethink operating remotely. Soon enough, the conversation can turn to which roles are compulsory but cannot be contented by software. Although that is still a long way off, with the advancement of AI and other technologies, there are methods to reduce business risk by adapting to virtual or automated services as much as possible.