Coronavirus: How a global crisis can inspire innovation

Global crises are scary times. During such times we often scale back and safeguard our investments to avoid unnecessary risk. However, there are many examples where going through a crisis pushes people to be creative and invent different ways of making a living or finding the time to turn that side hustle into a full-time business. Did you know some of today’s most well-known companies were founded during the last global recession in 2008?

They include:

  • Groupon – 2008
  • Whatsapp – 2009
  • Venmo – 2009
  • Uber – 2009
  • Instagram – 2010
  • Pinterest – 2010

Likewise today, just at the start of the current global crisis, we’re seeing business owners and entrepreneurs shifting gears quickly; starting new companies, planning a new product offering or bringing their business online. Here are some of the blossoming ideas we’re already starting to see.

1. Support your local business: online gift cards

Some start-ups have come to the rescue of small local businesses. Community Bees, SaveOurFaves and SupportYourSpot are directories of local businesses that offer online gift cards for purchase. They hope to mobilise loyal customers to provide much-needed support for their favourite businesses. If you live in London, San Francisco or Boston, contribute and spread the word.

2. Groceries from the market to the doorstep

The closure of restaurants has had a massive ripple effect through the hospitality sector. Many businesses have found themselves with clients closing their doors and having no need for their produce. Here are some great initiatives to help support farms in delivering their produce.

  • Several stallholders at New Covent Garden Market have quickly moved to a home delivery service. You can get your fresh fruit and vegetables from several businesses such as Lays, Zuppe and Entremettier.
  • Crosstown doughnuts teamed up with The Estate Dairy, Millers Bakery and their local fruit and veg supplier to create a beautiful box with fresh produce. You can opt for regular or vegan and even a special easter version with hot cross buns.

3. Bring people closer together: Houseparty

Struggling with social distancing and missing hanging out with your friends? Houseparty has come to your rescue! It is the face-to-face social network where you can connect with the people you care about. The app makes video chat effortless, alerting you when your friends are “in the house” and ready to chat so you can jump right into the conversation. There are built-in games to play but be careful, you may want to lock your room if you’re not keen on a surprise visitor showing up unannounced!

4. Help to stop the spread: Immutouch & Social Distance AR

The universal advice to avoid contracting COVID-19 is to wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face. Therefore the team behind Slightly Robot has launched Immutouch. Immutouch is a smart band that vibrates every time you touch your face, keeping you safe today and building clean habits for tomorrow.

Another way of stopping the spread has been social distancing. Snapchat – in partnership with the World Health Organisation – has developed new lenses to help with this. One is called “My social distance”; it creates an AR (augmented reality) circle around the user to show them how far they need to be away from others to practice social distancing.

5. Bring your service online: gym classes

Many gyms and personal trainers have shifted their classes online. A very successful example in the UK is Joe Wicks who launched a daily free workout aimed at children. All the profits from these classes are donated to the NHS. His classes have been extremely popular and have undoubtedly hugely raised his profile.

Europe’s leading health, sport and leisure group, David Lloyd has created a wealth of content on their app both for physical fitness, mental health and to keep the family entertained. David Lloyd Clubs @home is available free of charge to members and they are not making any profit from these offers as all memberships are currently frozen.

6. Put your furlough to a good cause: feed the NHS

One of the really positive movements to come out of this crisis is the extraordinary charitable efforts and fundraisers that are being established. In the UK, many are focused on getting food to NHS staff as those on the frontline are not allowed out of their confined areas so trips to the shops or the canteen are out of the question. There are lots of fundraisers around including Feed the NHS.

Others like Furloughed Foodies London are encouraging those who have been furloughed to put their free time to good use. They’re cooking up a storm and supplying daily meals to 10 hospitals. Get involved by donating, cooking or delivering delicious goods.

We think these are some great examples of the amazing business and charitable ideas that can come out of difficult times. Are there any more that you think deserve a shout-out? Let us know in the comments below.