Positive Spin: How Startups Are Beating COVID-19

Apr 14

Businesses large and small are being hammered by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic turmoil it’s spawned. Fortunately, we Americans are resilient and find ways to adapt and keep marching forward. I’d like to share positive spin on four companies, all of them startups, that are pivoting their products, services, strategies, and messaging to help our nation stay safe, regain its footing and beat COVID-19.

Care Academy is helping prepare and protect direct care workers and their clients

COVID-19 threatens the lives and health of America’s seniors, many of whom also rely on direct care workers who come to their homes to assist them. COVID-19 also poses a special threat to these workers, who routinely meet with multiple clients. each day. CareAcademy, a Boston-based startup company that provides affordable, online caregiver training and certification classes to adults in the direct care industry or who wish to get a job in the field, immediately recognized and proactively responded to the threat.

In mid-March, CareAcademy launched an online COVID-19 Certification Class (since updated on April 10) to prepare direct care workers to perform critical front-line work. The in-depth class, which people take on their own time using a smart phone, tablet or desktop, delivers relevant, reliable information about the virus and teaches direct care workers how to care for clients and themselves during the pandemic. At the end of the class, students receive documentation to share with their employer or potential employer to show they are COVID-19 certified through CareAcademy.

The COVID-19 certification classes are offered to  CareAcademy customers like Visiting Angels, Comfort Keepers, and the Home Care Association of America to help ensure their workforces are better prepared to safely continue their essential jobs. CareAcademy also reaches out regularly via email with important COID-19 updates and invitations to join live updates.

I was fortunate to profile CareAcademy Co-founder and Notre Dame alum Helen Adeosun in February. The daughter of Nigerian immigrants, she founded CareAcademy in 2016 with Dr. Madhuri Reddy to provides online professional development courses and certifications to teach and up-skill people who want to work in the healthcare industry, but often don’t have time for traditional school. CareAcademy is largely focused on home healthcare, which primarily serves America’s exploding senior population.

“The world is in the midst of a fast-growing senior population,” says Adeosun. “We don’t have enough trained direct caregivers to allow people to age with dignity in their homes. With CareAcademy, we have a unique opportunity to standardize training, make it accessible, get people in well-paying jobs and out of poverty, and help seniors.”

It’s inspiring to see CareAcademy accept the challenge posed by COVID-19 and continue to lead the way in online caregiver training. Learn more about this inspiring startup here.

Blockchain disrupter SIMBA Chain offers free online classes

Last year at this time, SIMBA Chain, a blockchain startup company out of the University of Notre Dame, was accepting the MIRA Award for Best New Tech Product of the Year. Today, SIMBA Chain has launched a series of free, on-line, on-demand classes to teach people how to develop and deploy blockchain distributed applications (dapps) on the companies platform. The classes are designed for any skill set, from beginner to advanced programmers as well as business executives who want to learn more about blockchain.

SIMBA CEO Joel Neidig made the decision to offer complementary blockchain training to help people up-skill while working from home or while furloughed. “America’s economy has been broadsided by the COVID-19 pandemic with a quarter of our workforce sitting on the sidelines wondering what their next move should be. It’s not just service industry workers who are without work; freelance developers and consultants have also been displaced,” he says. “Once we get through this temporary economic lock down, the demand for skills in technology like blockchain will be greater than before. So we’re making training available to all.”

Online learners will walk away from the free training with a solid understanding of and ability to develop and launch blockchain dapps using SIMBA Chain’s Smart Contract as a Service platform (SCaaS). Higher order functionality concepts such as off chaining, data stores, and deploying arrest-based API will also be introduced. The company may offer more advanced training based on demand.

Says Neidig, “As the world comes out of the global pandemic, blockchain technology will be one of the cornerstones of the continuing digital transformation, creating new categories of knowledge workers and empowered analyst consultants. We encourage everyone, regardless of current skillset, industry or age, to take advantage of our free training.”

Register for classes at SIMBA Chain’s training portal. I have signed up for a SIMBA Chain blockchain dapp class – you can, too! Learn more about this blockchain innovator here.

Keeping America’s vital supply chain workers on the job

On April 12, Smithfield Foods announced it was shutting down its Sioux Falls, South Dakota pork processing plant indefinitely due to employees testing positive for coronavirus. Obviously, this is concerning for America’s food industry that relies on meat processors such as Smithfield to keep food in the supply chain.

Austin, Texas-based SIERA.ai, which provides safety systems to prevent forklift accidents and autonomous robots for material handling to a broad swath of companies, including meat processors, has introduced a new digital checklist for screening workers for COVID-19 in material handling industries and enforcing best practices for sanitation. The company is offering free webinars to companies to introduce the solution and publishing informational blogs. Registration for the webinars is available on its website.

According on SIERA.ai CEO Saurav Agrawal, the first webinar was overwhelming. “We were 300 percent over subscribed for the first webinar. Obviously, no one wants to shutdown their business, particularly in the supply chain industry, which is responsible for moving food and a myriad of products consumers and industry depend on. So our new service offering really struck a nerve.”

Agrawal says his company adapted existing digital inspection and compliance software to screen instead for COVID-19. “We have made it really easy for companies to self deploy. They go to our website, sign up and begin using immediately.”

It’s possible SIERA.ai’s COVID-19 digital checklist could be used to screen workers in other industries. Agrawal believes once the dust of COVID-19 settles, customers of his company’s forklift safety systems and automation solutions will return. However, the workforce health digital checklist may remain a big seller.

“Businesses and their customers rely on a healthy workforce. If we can support that, I’m all for it,” Agrawal says. Learn more about this startup disrupting the materials handing space with AI, robotics and now a COVID-19 digital health checklist here.

Keeping America’s home buyers engaged, home builders on schedule

With COVID-19 forcing everyone to stay home and practice social distancing, America’s homebuilders are facing two major issues: keeping  new home construction projects with buyers on schedule and attracting new home buyers to their developments.

Farrukh Malik, CEO of Dallas-based Roomored, the creator of an online virtual design platform for homebuilders and their buyers, gathered his team to find a solution for sidelined homebuilders and buyers. “Talking with our customers and prospects, we learned that while many had active construction projects and others in the pipeline, their buyers couldn’t come to their design centers to choose cabinets, flooring, tile and paint colors. This is causing jobs to bog down and throwing everyone’s – builders, contracts and subs – schedules off. We needed to come up with a new digital design solution homebuilders could implement quickly and affordably and buyers could use at home.”

It was a daunting challenge. Roomored’s main digital design solution is custom to the homebuilder. All of the their floor plans, cabinets, tile, flooring, and paint colors must be uploaded onto the platform. Roomored then applies its magic – please don’t ask me to explain how it works as it’s complicated – so buyers can make all of their design selections – literally point and click – and experience their future home in an incredible, 3D photo realism way. You can see the Roomored platform in action on their website.

Homebuilders love it because it’s extremely effective in helping buyers make their selections and be thrilled when the completed home meets their expectations. There is a caveat – Roomored’s homebuilder specific solution requires several months to create. In the midst of the COVID-19 shutdown, with buyers and prospective buyers glued to their laptops and smart phones, builders needed an immediate solution.

Last week, Roomored delivered, launching Infinity Kitchen, a sophisticated new digital design tool home builders can implement overnight and buyers can use in the comforts of home. How was Roomored able to deploy the new platform so quickly? Malik explains.

“Kitchens are the most popular room in the house so we focused on that, giving users three representative floor plans. Second, Infinity Kitchen is supported by Roomored’s digital catalog of literally thousands of on-trend, photo-real samples of name brand paints, tile, flooring, and cabinetry finishes buyers can choose from. Third, we had already perfected and proven the technology that allows users to point, click, and instantly create the home of their dreams in amazing 3D reality. We simply applied it to Infinity Kitchen. Designers and buyers can now save and share designs, make selections and forward to the homebuilder. It’s the perfect way to keep new home construction on track.”

Homebuilders can use Infinity Home as an engagement tool on their websites, social media, email marketing and direct-to-buyer sales as well as a tool to keep buyers on track with their finish selections. Learn more about Roomored and Infinity Kitchen here.

Do you have a COVID-19 business story you’d like to share? Please email melanie@lux-writes.com or text me at 803.331.4794. I’m actively profiling startups and established companies making a difference during the COVID-19 challenge. We’re in this thing to win it!

Learn more about Lux-Writes’ COVID-19 Crisis Communications Services here.

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