How Businesses are Innovating During Covid-19 Coronavirus

by Akbar Jaffer
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It’s true that necessity is the mother of invention and the most common interpretation is about finding a solution to a real world problem. During Covid-19 Coronavirus, this need to solve a real world problem was intelligently combined by some really smart entrepreneurs whos’ businesses and livelihood were facing existential crisis. When their backs were up against the wall and they were worried about their own family and the families of their employees some sprung into action and came up with some great solutions. Some big businesses also created solutions to keep most of their employees on payroll or utilize excess resources and serve people in different ways. So how businesses are innovating during Covid-19 Coronavirus.  Mind you, these entrepreneurs didn’t have time to come up with new products or business models (although some did). Their bold and creative moves saved their business and retained their employees.

Here are some examples that are motivating and inspiring to create solutions quickly to problems in what we are calling the “new normal.”

  1. Fast-casual restaurant chain &pizza, with the help of Citi, is transforming some of its restaurants into Hero Kitchens dedicated to producing 100,000 free pizzas for healthcare workers.
  2. Thanks to resilience in its Chinese business and an uptick in at-home workouts, Nike is also aware of the need for PPE and, with guidance from Oregon Health & Science University, Nike has engineered a full-face shield and respirator (PAPR) lenses using materials from its apparel, including collar padding from shoes, cords from jackets and the soles of its Nike Air sneakers. The equipment is being donated to OHSU facilities.
  3. A large hotel re-purposed its un-used kitchen and staff to serve lunch and dinner for healthcare workers in the area. They even found volunteers to deliver those meals if workers are not able to leave your hospital post.
  4. Some airlines are donating rides to healthcare workers taking them to areas of greater need and shortage of healthcare staff.
  5. In response to the need for personal protective equipment, athletic brand Under Armour has engineered a face mask made from a single piece of fabric, making it easy to produce. The company has converted its innovation lab in Baltimore to manufacture the masks, in addition to face shields and other needed products like fanny packs.
  6. A local restaurant with plenty of dinning space converted its entire facility for Coronavirus testing for first line workers. At the same time the restaurant quickly hired extra cooks and ramped up its curb-side and delivery service.
  7. For several weeks, Kraft Peanut Butter turned over its social media channels to feature local restaurants and bakeries offering takeout and delivery.
  8. Sun Bum, the sunscreen brand, is giving back by purchasing $1,000 worth of gift cards from various surf shops and distributing them to local customers for when the businesses reopen, as well as redirecting customers from its own website to buy its products directly from these shops.
  9. Online shoe retailer Zappos has launched Customer Service for Anything, a free service with a simple yet boundless mission: “Helping people find answers.” Best way to utilize your remote support workers who they would have otherwise had to let go.
  10. LyftUp is the rideshare company’s effort to expand transportation access to those who need it most, including the most vulnerable communities—such as domestic violence victims and those with disabilities, and critical care workers. Lyft has partnered with more than 500 organizations to provide “tens of thousands” of free ride credits to date.
  11. Marriott, with the backing of its partners American Express and JPMorgan Chase, is stepping up with Rooms for Responders, providing $10 million worth of stays for members of the American College of Emergency Physicians and the Emergency Nurses Association in the cities hardest hit by the crisis, including New York, New Orleans and Detroit.
  12. Medical professionals are working long hours—and going home may not be an option, whether it’s to avoid infecting their families or because they’ve taken a job far from home to help in the hardest-hit areas. To ease their burden, Hilton and American Express donated up to 1 million room nights to doctors, nurses, EMTs, paramedics and other frontline medical staff through their professional associations through to end May 31.
  13. The New York branch of design agency R/GA is putting its creativity to work — pro bono — for the small businesses hurt by the citywide shutdown. With the help of artists and designers, Merch Aid helps businesses “from bars to barbershops” by creating merchandise, with 100% of proceeds going to the businesses.
  14. As the maker of futuristic vacuums and fans, Dyson knows air technology. In response to an emergency request from the U.K., its experts have turned to developing a new kind of ventilator. The CoVent ” can be manufactured quickly, efficiently and at volume.”
  15. French luxury fashion brand Chanel announced it would keep its 8,500 employees working through the pandemic by making masks and gowns.

And there are 100’s of similar examples both at the national/ international level and at the local level. Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood for the future of our economy.

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