How these Philly startups are faring (or pivoting) amid COVID-19 - Technical.ly Philly

Growth

Mar. 18, 2020 2:19 pm

How these Philly startups are faring (or pivoting) amid COVID-19

"This has forced us to think critically about our business model to see how we can emerge through dire market conditions," said Adit Gupta, cofounder of VyB, an app for rating businesses IRL.
VyB cofounders (L to R) Adit Gupta, Nico Cohen and Mason Cohen with Chief Creative Officer Tom Falzani.

VyB cofounders (L to R) Adit Gupta, Nico Cohen and Mason Cohen with Chief Creative Officer Tom Falzani.

(Photo courtesy of VyB)

As much of the city of Philadelphia moves work home, closes non-essential businesses and grapples with how the local (and global) economy will be effected by the spread of COVID-19, startup founders are right there feeling the pressure, too.

Technical.ly reached out to founders of companies in the meal service, business ratings and reviews, skills training and health IT industries about the current and future state of their business.

For some, business is picking up in drastic measures, and for others, entire business models simply do not work amid people staying in their homes for the foreseeable future. Others have since pivoted their business model for the time being.

We wanted to know: How is this pandemic affecting your business, how are you making big decisions and how are you planning for the future?

Their answers, received via email, have been edited for length and clarity:

Kristy McCann Flynn, founder of GoCoach, which teaches professional skills

At GoCoach we sell into primarily to HR professionals who have been completely inundated with helping people in this time of change from transitioning to remote workforces, to counseling and working with benefits and [Family and Medical Leave Act] for those who are sick, and so much more. To help these HR heroes, we are offering weekly virtual free training for their managers and employees. In times of large-scale uncertainty and change, we often look for the ways we can provide stability and structure to those around us.

GoCoach will be offering free coaching sessions to all displaced workers. Our mission at GoCoach is to make education more accessible to anyone, anywhere, anytime, which is why we feel it is our duty to share our knowledge with those in need during this difficult time.

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In addition, we’re launching a virtual management training series to educate and empower people during these uncertain times. Topics will include remote interviewing, change management, servant leadership, fierce conversations and more. We’ll also be providing supplemental content on mindfulness and well-being, to help people continue to take care of themselves mentally and physically.

We are primarily a remote workforce, so not much has changed. We are doubling down on helping others in this time of need to get through and keep on.

Adit Gupta, CEO of Vyb, an app for rating businesses

First, as universities have completely shut down, this has caused us to onboard our co-ops virtually, learn to work completely with Slack/video call, and learn to care more for each other’s well being. Our team is our strongest asset and considering we’re now spread across the country, as a first-time founder, it’s been a fun experience taking the business virtual.

Secondly, VyB is very much so related to the hospitality industry and considering restaurants, bars, hotels are at a historically low engagement level, this is affecting a technology startup such as ours. People want to stay home, they don’t want to discover outside, and this has forced us to think critically about our business model to see how we can emerge through dire market conditions.

It’s important to understand a global event like this is going to have a long-term economic effect on our lives, but for now, our team is taking it as an opportunity to get closer to families, and take a step back from the hustle and bustle of work. Every founder wants to outwork the rest, but it’s sometimes important to take life into perspective and make sure we are making time for our loved ones around us.

Will Crowley, director of marketing for NeuroFlow, a behavioral health platform

This is a critical time for the healthcare community, and we stand ready to support, given the work we do to help providers and patients. For instance, we just launched a new solution to help providers educate and stay engaged with patients remotely during the current environment. Things like social isolation, loneliness and anxiety are prevalent right now, and people may be experiencing these symptoms for the first time. As a behavioral health company, we’re in a unique position to help get people the care and support they need.

Public health is a top priority and we need to manage this crisis with one eye on the next crisis. We hope everyone can remain positive, work together, and look after the most vulnerable members of the population.

Jared Cannon, CEO of Simply Good Jars, which sells prepackaged salads in office spaces

Initially business volume was down slightly and we noticed different buyer behavior (such as buying five-plus jars at a time). Once Philly and New York City businesses were told to close, our entire fleet of smart fridges were immediately affected and we have suspended service at this time. We’ve suspended typical operations and focused on trying to help feed Philadelphians (since we have the capacity to produce thousands of products a day).

We have implemented home delivery of our products and launched on retail shelves (Di Bruno Bros) and will continue the strategy of distributing product to help feed those in need.

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