// 05.28.2020

7 perfect pandemic pivots you can learn from.

One silver lining of the pandemic is how businesses are adapting. From fast-food chain Leon turning restaurants into supermarkets to an Italian grandma moving her pasta masterclasses online, creativity and resilience are everywhere. Unfortunately, these pivots are out of necessity, as a means to adapt and survive. Demand everywhere has plummeted and ideas that were viable a few months ago are now useless. Founders have been forced to rally their teams around new ideas that fit into the unfamiliar world of coronavirus.

Some of these ideas will be short-lived, with the sole purpose to keep a fledgling startup afloat. Others will be permanent, aligning themselves with long-term changes in consumer behaviour. Regardless of their longevity, it’s inspiring to see so much good amongst so much bad. Here are seven perfect pandemic pivots you can learn from.

1. The Karma Box 

Recently, we talked to B. Member Marcel van der Heijden about building the world’s leading plant-based FMCG, The Karma Company. It’s an ambitious, timely idea and it’s not going away, but what’s timelier is his pivot The Karma Box. Now, every month boxes are filled and delivered with a thoughtful selection of the “latest and tastiest vegan products” from local entrepreneurs and businesses who strive for a healthy planet. And each month the selection changes. Sustainable, healthy and supportive of local businesses, The Karma Box is good for everyone. 

2. Kingston Family Vineyards

For those in the wine industry, coronavirus is a double-edged sword. In the third week of March, wine sales were up by 66%. Online alcohol sales were up 243%. At the same time, restaurants have shut, more will remain shut and the entire hospitality industry has a rough road ahead. For Kingston Family Vineyards, with 350 acres in Chile's Casablanca Valley, the pandemic resulted in a ban on vineyard visitors. So, they turned to virtual tastings. Shipping bottles of wine ahead to customers, the business embraced the possibilities of online, resulting in a manageable 10% decrease in April’s revenue.

3. Smallhold

Smallhold is a pioneering distributed farming startup. Based in NYC, they grow organic mushrooms in restaurants, grocery stores and other urban centres. When coronavirus hit, they realised that access to healthy food had become more essential than ever. Instead of cutting back on production, they ramped it up, created a home delivery service, started doing pop-ups out of a van and even launched a new product line of mushroom grow kits. Smallhold is a perfect example of resilience in the face of coronavirus. Read their thoughts on the pandemic here

4. Binnenvisser 

Restaurants are amongst those most affected by coronavirus. Not only are they currently closed, but when they re-open their capacity will be limited to ensure social distancing. But Binnenvisser (a favourite in Amsterdam), has risen to meet the pandemic. Every Tuesday at noon, they announce a new weekend menu taking shape as a crafted four-course meal package for two. It includes all the prepped ingredients, a bottle of wine, a bottle of cider and even access to cooking instructions and music playlists via a QR code. All you have to do is pick it up. 

5. EO Charging

In normal times, UK based startup EO Charging manufacture and design electric vehicle charging products. They’re still doing that, but with thousands of schools still shut, they’ve created the EO Academy for Children, a series of free online lessons to teach young minds about the power of electric cars and the importance of sustainability. This isn’t a pivot for profit, but a smart addition to their operations, bringing more awareness to their work and reinforcing their mission of achieving a greener world. 

6. Cheetah

Since 2016, e-commerce platform Cheetah has been delivering wholesale food and supplies to restaurants and small businesses across the USA. As restaurants shut, that revenue stream tanked. In response, Cheetah rapidly opened up their services to individuals and families in their local Bay Area, making a crucial pivot towards consumers. Cheetah is not only adapting themselves but providing a vital service for many who are struggling to access food and other essentials during isolation. And on April 28, Cheetah secured $36 million in a Series B round. Perfect timing. 

7. Convious

Worldwide travel has ground to a halt and tourism with it. As a result, startups working in the industry such as Convious have also been affected. Normally, Convious enables venues to manage the spread of visitors, predict crowd levels and offer dynamic prices via their AI-driven tool. But realising that controlling crowds will be vital to businesses reopening and keeping safe, the startup released their Convious Crowd Control. The new addition will allow companies to prevent overcrowding and avoid risky situations, helping both Convious and others to return to some form of normal. 


Next read: how to give effective remote feedback during COVID-19.