These 5 Startups are a Ray of Light in an Uncertain Economy

Published in Mindoula in the News , June 22, 2020

Natalie Buford-Young, Managing Director at Deloitte

We’ve all heard of high-profile companies that boomed during the COVID-19 crisis. But what about the not-so-famous ones—the up-and-coming companies that have managed to thrive amid the shock of pandemic and other recent social and economic concerns? My work brings me into contact with many of them. Here are five companies that are emerging stronger from the crucible of economic volatility.

Company #1: CarePredict

Based in Plantation, FL, CarePredict is a startup that produces wearable devices to help keep seniors safe. The devices let caregivers know how their loved ones are doing by transmitting their activity and location information.

The elderly population is at heightened risk from COVID-19, and many outbreaks have centered on senior group living facilities. CarePredict’s PinPoint technology allows facilities to trace residents’ and caregivers’ movements with pinpoint location accuracy by time of day and duration. The information is available in real time, allowing caregivers to take immediate action to mitigate the spread of disease at the first presumed coronavirus exposure. As a result, interest in the company’s contact tracing solution has surged in the skilled care industry as well as hospitality, cruise lines and others.

Company #2: Till

Another company to know about is Alexandria, VA-based Till. Till is a financial services company that creates custom payment schedules to help people stay current with their rent.

Between reduced household earnings and the winding down of emergency COVID-19 stimulus, the threat of delinquency and eviction is likely to rise. With ongoing delays in eviction hearings, landlords are being forced to rethink how they work with renters. Enter Till, whose solutions also benefit landlords by helping them reduce turnover and improve cash flow. In just two months, Till has seen the number of rental units participating in their program grow by 50 percent as more landlords look for ways to set their renters up for success.

Company #3: Mindoula

Mindoula uses technology to provide round-the-clock access to care among people struggling with behavioral health challenges. From its headquarters in Silver Spring, MD, the company works with healthcare providers and payers to extend support to even the most under-served populations.

Reports are showing a dramatic increase in depression, anxiety, domestic violence, and other mental health matters stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, shutdowns have prevented many people from seeking care in person. This confluence of events proved to be a breakout moment for Mindoula. After years of refining its virtual care offerings, the company is expanding its resource teams and stepping up product development to help vulnerable people get the care they need.

Company #4: Spoonflower

Then there’s Spoonflower. Located in Durham, NC, Spoonflower sells fabric, wallpaper, and home décor that it digitally prints with customers’ own designs. The company is also a marketplace for products featuring designs from thousands of independent artists.

With people confined to their homes this spring, sales at Spoonflower tripled. Not all of the demand came from those rethinking their interior space for Zoom meetings. The company also fielded requests from healthcare, construction, and other businesses seeking masks for their workers. To speed up production, Spoonflower turned to its community of crafters, supplying them with fabric to make personal protective equipment. Today, Spoonflower has expanded its office space and is hiring in every department.

Company #5: Stord

My last example is Stord, an Atlanta-based company that helps businesses locate and secure facilities for storing product inventory. Today, Stord has a network of 400 warehouses that make excess capacity available on the company’s digital platform.

Some time ago, Stord realized it could enhance the value of its service by adding freight capabilities to move products back and forth between warehouses and shipping facilities. This prompted the company to enter into talks to acquire transportation provider Cove Logistics.

Then the COVID-19 crisis struck. Stores closed and warehouses filled with medical and sanitation supplies, leaving inbound consumer goods with nowhere to go. Although economic uncertainty hung in the air, Stord recognized the opportunity at hand and decided to forge ahead with the acquisition. On June 12 Stord

inked the deal with Cove, gaining a freight office with a staff of 15 and a track record of 99 percent on-time delivery just as many states were reopening their economies.

Trial by fire

What do these companies have in common? First, the current crisis environment created new market conditions that expanded the potential for their products. Just as importantly, however, each company exhibited the agility to recognize their opportunity and muster a disciplined, targeted response. These and other companies like them may see their offerings evolve from a pre-crisis alternative to a post-crisis must-have.

What about you? Have you come across companies that became rays of light during our deeply unsettled economic climate? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Let's keep the good news going!

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