While millions of people forced to stay home to help stop the spread of Covid-19, some startups are having a significant impact in easing day-to-day life. These startups are not just helping us all through what is undoubtedly one of the most difficult periods in recent times, but are making heaps of progress in the startup world. Here are 10 of the best and most popular startups during coronavirus.
The video-conferencing service Zoom has risen to the top amid the new social distancing culture. Millions of people are using the video-conferencing app to stay in touch with family and friends, and for remote-working. Users are getting creative in their virtual socialising with pub quizzes, happy hours, and birthday parties via Zoom. The company says that users have spiked to 200 million per day in March, in comparison to 10 million in December. Prime Minister Boris Johnson even used Zoom this month, tweeting a picture of himself chairing a Cabinet meeting via the app.
Babylon Health provides a GP at Hand service, which allows you to video chat with your doctor. With many GP surgeries closed due to the outbreak, Babylon offers a way for people to consult a doctor from their own home. The British digital health unicorn has also created a symptom-tracking app for coronavirus. In early March, a Covid-19 care assistant was launched to check and track symptoms and offers NHS-approved information via the free-to-download app. Founder and CEO Dr Ali Parsa explains that this helps patients determine whether they really need to speak to a doctor. Currently, ten thousand AI interactions go through the app every day, and Babylon has ensured that the platform can cope with the increased demand. Prior to coronavirus, Babylon could process 3,000 simultaneous AI consultations; this has since scaled to an incredible 250,000.
Food delivery of all kinds has surged in the last few weeks as people have moved into isolation. Gousto, the London-based meal-kit service has seen tremendous growth, reporting a 28% increase in family boxes. With eating out no longer an option, many have turned to meal kits to provide healthy and convenient meals. Gousto offers more than 50 recipes each week to be packaged and delivered to your door at an average price of £2.98 per meal, per person. The company has said that it currently delivers 4 million meals each month around the UK and set to cross 400 million meals mark by 2025. The startup has even secured another £33 million as the business thrives under lockdown. The funding round was led by Perwyn, with participation from BGF, MMC and Joe Wicks in April.
Gousto has also been working with the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to provide meal kits for vulnerable people, donating 6,000 meals to The Trussell Trust. It has also put in measures to ensure that NHS employees get priority access to the platform when the system is overcrowded.
Echo is the free iOS and Android app that lets you order NHS repeat prescriptions for delivery to your door. With many Brits worried about leaving the house during the coronavirus pandemic, Echo’s service has seen a massive spike in users. Echo works alongside the NHS to dispatch and deliver medicine prescribed by your GP. The easy-to-use app also sends you reminders when you need to take medication and alerts you when you are running low. There is also no additional charge for the service, so you only pay the standard NHS prescription charge, if applicable. During this challenging time, Echo has upgraded all deliveries so that they arrive the next day and have hired extra staff across the operation to keep up with demand. Chief Pharmacist, Alistair Murray has stated: “Our pharmacy team is working through the night, across three shifts, to support our patients”.
Futurelearn is one of many MOOC platforms that people are turning to during isolation. The digital education platform is jointly owned by The Open University and SEEK Ltd and offers a wide selection of online short courses free of charge. Popularity has also risen with other ed-tech platforms such as Coursera, EdX and Udemy. It is entirely free to join Futurelearn, and the majority of courses on offer also have no charge. There is bound to be something that piques your interest with topics including engineering, psychology, nutrition, marketing and much more. However, users should note that there is an optional set fee if you want to receive certification on completing the course.
Unmind is a London-based wellness platform offering free access to its digital resources for all NHS staff. The startup founded Dr Nick Taylor, Ry Morgan, and Steve Peraltabhopes to help them cope with the demands and pressure of their jobs in the current crisis. The app offers tool and interactive content based on practices of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), positive psychology, neuroscience and mindfulness. Clients include John Lewis Partnership and British Airways and 89 per cent of employees report improvements. Unmind hopes that the 1.5 million NHS staff will benefit from using the platform to proactively manage their mental health during the crisis and beyond, with promises to continue support until the end of the year. For access, staff can visit: nhs.unmind.com/signup, and use their NHS email address.
The Unmind team is also creating specified content to support its other users amid the health pandemic. In the coming weeks, specialised topics including managing health anxiety, staying connected to meaning and values, and dealing with isolation and uncertainty will be added to the platform. If you’re not an NHS worker and don’t have access to Unmind, numerous alternative mental wellness apps can offer support. Headspace, the meditation app has introduced a ‘Weathering The Storm’ collection which is free for anyone to access and includes meditations, sleep and movement exercises.
Hopin is one of many remote meet-up solutions in the spotlight during coronavirus. With an endless string of events being cancelled, remote leaders like London-based Hopin are thriving. The all-in-one, live online events platform, founded in 2019, allows organisers to create, host and manage live events for up to 100,000 attendees. In February, Hopin had 10,000 organisers on its waiting list. But now, that number has risen to over 100,000. Companies on the waitlist include Dell, NBC, Google, Facebook, Wall Street Journal, CEX and Product Hunt. Hopin sees the importance of allowing people to meet others at these conferences, not just watch presentations. CEO Johnny Boufarhat explains “That’s why people go to events, it’s not for live streaming, you go physically to network with people, to interact with people. And that’s what we solve”. The company plans to double its team of 20 employees to keep up with the increased demand.
Bevy is an on-demand mobile app which delivers alcohol and speciality goods delivered by their network of ‘Bevy Butlers’. The London-based delivery service is an affordable way to get your favourite wine, champagne and more without leaving your house during lockdown. The application enables its users to browse products based on their location and order a range of beverages and snacks. The items are then delivered straight to your door in 30-45 minutes. Users can also track the order progress to see when your favourite drinks will arrive. The startup is sure to be helping many Londoners get through the lockdown period as alcohol sales have soared by 31.4% in volume since the outbreak. What’s more, they are open seven days per week and into the late hours of the night.
The online marketplace Trouva has kept hundreds of independent shops across Britain in trade during lockdown restrictions. The London-based startup founded in 2013 provides an online destination for boutique clothes and homeware stores. Trouva works with more than 900 independent boutiques in 300 cities across Europe. The company has stated that 75 per cent of its independent UK boutique network was continuing to trade during the coronavirus lockdown. E-commerce is playing a vital role in allowing retailers to continue securing income in these difficult and unprecedented circumstances. CEO Alex Loizou said: “Our boutiques rely on Trouva as a strong revenue stream. Now, these online sales are offering them a lifeline during this difficult time”. Trouva also gives customers who are spending more time at home access to these unique products from independents boutiques.
Singa is a digital karaoke service offering entertainment to those stuck indoors. The startup provides iOS, Android, Web, Apple TV & SmartTV apps, which provide easy access to over 80,000 songs. As people around the world observe isolation rules, home karaoke is booming, and the Singa app has seen a 700% increases in new customer sign-ups. A spokesperson for the company stated: “The surge in sign-ups shows that consumers are turning to music and choosing to sing during this troubling and uncertain time. This heart-warming phenomenon illustrating the importance of music and singing has also been shown through footage circulating online of people in lockdown singing from their balconies in Italy and elsewhere”. The startup is currently offering 30 days of free Singa Premium in its #quarantinekaraoke promotion. For more information visit: https://get.singa.com/quarantinekaraoke/