December marks us wrapping up another challenging year, as well as nearly two full years of life altered, in one way or another, by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some businesses found their footing during an economically catastrophic time. Some pivoted to meet new needs. Some found that their business was more suited for virtual than they ever imagined. Some, of course, didn’t make it — as many as 200,000 more than in a normal year.
And then, some started new businesses right in the midst of the pandemic.
In most cases, it was a cruel twist of fate that led them to opening their doors, virtual or literal, during these proverbial “unprecedented times.” Resilience may not be the word for it, but these businesses took the plunge when many decided to wait for things to “settle down.” Seeing as we’ll soon be going into year three of the pandemic with no guarantees of complete normalcy anytime soon, waiting isn’t necessarily a good strategy.
Below is by no means a comprehensive list of local companies that have launched during the pandemic, but a sampling — and we want to connect with more entrepreneurs who have launched since March 2020. If you are one or know someone, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are 10 new Delaware businesses, in no particular order:
This Yorklyn-based startup (and Short Order Productions spinoff) was actually conceived, created and launched in the summer of 2020 as a solution for virtual conference room issues. Sort of like a more versatile and user-friendly Discord for companies.
We're not the kind of people who complain about things without offering solutions. (Aren't those people the worst!?) Your conference room is a problem. Give that link a click & get yourself some solutions. https://t.co/0qGS9ySFUA#HybridWork #EmployeeExperience #FutureofWork pic.twitter.com/jO3uR7SKdi
— Markee (@MarkeeCompany) September 28, 2021
The app was set for release in spring of 2020. You can guess how that went. The fintech app regained its footing and won an EDGE Grant in 2021.
Checkout our awesome designer Ozenua working our new mobile & web app 👨🏽💻🔥 https://t.co/fUXoPJerT2
— Neggster (@NeggsterApp) October 27, 2021
Books and Bagels
Books and bagels are both pretty pandemic-proof on their own, but brick-and-mortar bookstores where members of the community can connect have been losing ground since the birth of Amazon. The pandemic made small bookstores like Books and Bagels in Wilmington attractive again, with the promise of safe IRL browsing without the stress of Walmart crowds.
DE Slider Co.
Who needs gourmet sliders in Wilmington? Who doesn’t? Located across from the Nemours Building, this tiny burger company launched this year — and, yes, you can get them delivered via DoorDash or GrubHub.
This Newark-based app connects University of Delaware students with members of the community looking to hire a student for — well, pretty much anything. Its founders, UD students William Shahroze Ali and Suryanuj Gupta, were recently named Collegiate Entrepreneurs of the Year at the 38th annual Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization Conference and Pitch Competition.
Sweets ‘n Treats
This Dover bakery had its ribbon cutting earlier this year, offering up all the cakes, cupcakes and pies you could want, including seriously impressive custom cakes.
Another UD startup, GetPotluck, is an app that allows people in its service area to order from participating small groceries, making it easier to buy Asian, Latin and African ingredients and products. Though it was conceived as a service mainly for homesick international students, food delivery services in general have been in high demand during COVID.
Trolley Sq. Mkt.
If you have fond memories of the Sandy Hollow Herb Company that was once a quaint shop in Trolley Square, you’ll love Trolley Sq. Mkt. which opened in October. It’s tucked within the second level of the Trolley Square Shopping Center and sells all sorts of natural products, gifts and art.
CSC itself is a very old company that has evolved into a large tech-based business services company. When it bought the old Pennsylvania Railroad Building with the intention of both expanding into Wilmington and offering small offices and a coworking space, it seemed like nothing could go wrong with the plan. And somehow, despite COVID, nothing really did. CSC Station opened almost exactly when planned in the fall of 2020, and was attracting tenants before it opened.
Remember a long time ago when downtown Wilmington was supposed to have an arcade/bowling alley/taproom where the Ernest and Scott Taproom used to be? It was originally slated to open in the fall of 2020, but it didn’t fall to the wayside: Wilma’s, with downtown’s only duckpin bowling alley, has its grand opening this week.