In the past few extraordinary weeks, life for all of us has changed dramatically. We have had to adjust the way we do business, our routines, the strategies we implement and how we interact with our colleagues, friends and clients. Amongst all this uncertainty, it can be very easy to be overwhelmed by the extensive news coverage, particularly as – more than ever – we are glued to our laptops and television screens.
In this article, we do our best to punctuate this gloomy picture with a few rays of entrepreneurial light. We have been truly astonished by how many entrepreneurs have adapted so quickly to these new commercial patterns, making vital strategic decisions which might usually be thrashed out over a year or more in a matter of days with no face to face meetings.
Tech-forward enterprises and small outfits with strong social roots in their local communities are stepping into the void left by larger organisations struggling to adapt their business models to keep up with demand. We have set out below just a few examples of such ingenuity below from our clients and contacts:
- Underpinned, the freelance career platform founded by Albert Azis-Clauson and Jack Williams, has announced it is providing all of the services included in its essential plan free of charge until September 2020. These include the services from their partners, including Digital Risk’s mental health hotline. This initiative will provide much needed support to a freelance community hit particularly hard by the Coronavirus outbreak.
- Casa do Frango, the popular Portuguese chicken restaurant founded by Marco Mendes and Jake Kasimov, is offering free food to all NHS staff at both of its locations in London Bridge and Shoreditch. In line with government restrictions, the meals can be collected to take away - all NHS workers need to do is call ahead to place their order. This is a fantastic way to support our amazing NHS staff when they need it most.
- Coconut, delivering banking and accounting in a “nutshell” for self-employed business owners, founded by Sam O Connor and Adam Goodall, has set up the Campaign for self-employed income support during COVID-19, which is selflessly dedicated to the self-employed community without – deliberately - commercial benefit to its own business.
- Hello Tomo is a digital mental health app, founded by Gus Booth-Clibborn and Fahad al Saud, that helps patients build healthy habits to aid post-treatment recovery. The Tomo app uses the same evidence-based and tested techniques that are used in clinical settings to help people suffering with anxiety and other mental health challenges. The team has adapted the app into a companion for social isolation to help people build new routines from their living room and so stay mentally and physically healthy during COVID-19. The app has been made available for free for anyone to use for 150 days and has been downloaded over 1,200 times in the last two weeks.
- Tarquin's Gin, founded by master distiller Tarquin Leadbetter, has switched its production from spirits to hand sanitiser in response to concerns about availability of the product, supplying frontline Cornish essential workers. The entrepreneur has linked up with the NHS Partnership Trust, as well as the Police and Foodbanks across Cornwall.
- CENTURY, an award-winning AI education technology company founded by Priya Lakhani OBE, is giving free access to its teaching and learning platform to all affected by Coronavirus school closures. To ensure that no child is behind on their learning, Century is offering a curated version of their English, maths and science courses covering all the key topics for Years 3-11 free of charge for as long as schools are closed. The number of Century users has increased fivefold since they first opened up the platform for free to closed schools in January. They are now supporting schools in 17 new countries, from the UK to Panama to Nigeria to Georgia.
This is, therefore, a celebration of agility and innovative thinking, by entrepreneurs and businesses fighting not just to survive, but to make a meaningful social impact at a time when we need them most.
If you require further information about anything covered in this briefing, please contact Tom Bruce, or your usual contact at the firm on +44 (0)20 3375 7000.
This publication is a general summary of the law. It should not replace legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances.
© Farrer & Co LLP, April 2020