Business Pivot - Plan B

Though these times may seem to be uncertain for business and industry, considering that hundreds of establishments have been closing, laying off workers, and losing revenue there are some who have pivoted and executed a plan b.

Learn how to plan your pivot - we have 5 key ways you can plan your new start.

How to start a low risk online business - we have the top picks for the best online business in 2020

Let us see how these lists of small business pivoted their business models while facing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Telehealth

One Food business pivoted to telehealth

Telehealth services saw a sudden spike in demand and a food and restaurant business pivoted its whole model and kept its valuable employees working and paid.
telehealth pivot
Telehealth is digital health care which is one of the in demand businesses amid this pandemic.

QED Resources is owned by chef Brian Landry and Emery Whalen. Before the crisis, it owned and operated food and beverage services - restaurants, bars, and cafes - and had eight establishments that are now closed.

When my business partner (Brian Landry) and I realized we would have to close our eight food and beverage outlets in Nashville and New Orleans, we recognized that to-go dining wasn’t a plausible model to keep our valued employees working and paid,” said Emery Whalen.

However chef Landry and Whalen have found their way out in the crisis. Now, their company QED resources is working under a contract from Divurgent, a healthcare IT company in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Divurgent has gained approximately one million customers from this pandemic that needed to be converted to telehealth alone.

The two business partners where able to hustle and have their operation for a relationship Divurgent to supply their employees as a scaleable resource which was really needed. 

One of their employees, Mattis Lepre, who used to work at a rooftop bar said, “I’m still doing what I love, which is taking care of people...It’s a different type of energy, but if you love being in hospitality, you’re fulfilled by helping others. We’re still doing that and we’re helping people stay safe.”

Currently, Lepre no longer serves drinks in the early hours of the morning but instead, she helps people switch doctor’s appointments to video calls.  She also listens to stories from patients who are stuck at home while guiding them through technical details of telehealth, and at the same time, Lepre gets to work with the same people from the hotel bar and applying the same skills.

“At the bar, when someone doesn’t know what they want to drink, you help them figure out what they like, you ask them questions and guide them,” said Lepre. “Now, it’s about what kind of computer do they have access to, do they have what they need to do this. You’re guiding them to what they need, it’s the same process, just a different perspective.”

Though the hospitality industry may seem far from telehealth (they have to be trained quickly to learn technology and the workflow required) their applied skills in drawing people close to them and making every patient feel secured are their edge in QED Resources.

Emery Whalen couldn’t help but feel proud of their staff who adapted to their new venture. “We're really proud of our people who took this leap of faith with us. It's brave to do that, to go from restaurants and bars where you know exactly what your job is and changing in days to entirely new work," said Emery Whalen.

Owner of Divurgent, Ralph Whalen, acknowledges the partnership with QED Resources as a pilot program for meeting the needs of the impacted businesses. And while QED Resources is at its doing well, for now, its owners’ chef Brian Landry and Emery Whalen, are still hoping for the hospitality industry to bounce back just as it was before.

So key takeaways are - not to be afraid to think outside the square. Think of your staff as a valuable and trainable resource that can be deployed to new ventures.  From an owners perspective - networking is key - knowing what is happening in your geography and having a network of peers that will help you reach out to other business is invaluable. 
Here's is your pivot

Pivot - how do you get an idea for a pivot Project

Customer Discovery Idea
Understand your business and do a customer discovery process
Customer Validation
Test your pivot before you commit - Validate with your customers 
manufacturing

from Alcoholic Distillery to Hand Sanitizer Formulation

Buzzballz, a woman-owned alcoholic beverage company in the United States, pivoted into a company that produces hand sanitizers, which are donated to health care facilities in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic.
manufacturing pivot to plan b
Before Buzzballz did their plan b pivot they were well-known for their 100% juice and premium ingredients for their alcoholic beverages. It is also an environment-driven company making sure that all of their products are Kosher Certified and all the containers are 100% made from recyclable materials. The company had a good presence and recognition from 45 states and several countries across the world.

Now, Merrilee Kick, the CEO and founder of Buzzballz, have decided to pivot their operations from solely cocktail production to hand sanitizers, and are looking to supply many health care facilities, municipalities, and retail outlets in Texas. 

This adjustment from Buzzballz was made after the announcement of the U.S Food and Drug Administration, Alcohol and Tabacco Tax and Trade Bureau, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to encourage every distillery owners to produce hand sanitizers to help the nation and because demand was outpacing supply.

In a statement released by Merrilee Kick, she stated the further reason why she decided to opt for the production of hand sanitizers. “I knew that my company had a lot of the necessary raw materials and was vertically integrated with the correct equipment. I started a search for 100% glycerin to add to our mix. Before I knew it, I had a major amount of hand sanitizer: a 100-gallon batch.” She added, “We donated the first batch to three of the 14 hospitals in the area that were in critical need. I also sent eight cases to pathology labs including Quest. Other requests followed: the city of Carrolton, Texas, firefighters and police, airlines (Spirit, American), Texas Women’s University, supermarkets, the Air Force, and the Army. All generated via word of mouth!”

Not only was the company able to help the front liners, but it also saved their company from laying off their workers since they transitioned their employees into helping the fight against COVID-19.

This is a great example of a pivot - resulting in a whole new industry and with demand staying high, and as a high quality manufacturer Buzzballz will likely keep this market and eventually resume production of their traditional range- they may be able to grow their business. 
Human resoruces

Launched a Network for those affected by Layoffs

Drafted Layoff Network is currently one of the largest companies exchanging talent in the technology industry, and rapidly growing to other sectors as well.
layoff pivot
Vinayak Ranade, CEO of Drafted in Cambridge Massachusetts, announced that their small start-up company helps large business hire through their company network. When the pandemic hit, it has become clear that a lot of their customers who had hired staff from them needed to find a position for their excess staff, in short, many have to reduce their workers. They know that layoffs take a toll, not just emotionally but financially as well, so embracing the new market they planned a pivot or plan b

They must has seen or sensed the severity as in just two weeks after  the pandemic, they started pivoting their business to build Layoff Networks specifically to assist the laid-off workers. Ranade said in a statement, “In two weeks, we changed our direction to building the Layoff Network just for this. We built this in 10 days and have over 2,000 users on the app. Fortune 500 companies have also started using the app to recruit top talent that is just hitting the market. Like everyone else, our business has taken a hard hit, but this is the beginning of something bigger, and something better.”

As of the moment, Layoff Network is free for everyone to use during the economic crisis. They admitted that it can be challenging for their company to focus on non-revenue generating projects, but they believe that this is all that they can help in these trying times.

“We hope that people will remember what we do know when the market takes a turn for the better,” said Ranade. 

This is a great example of a business doing the right thing - even when it is hard - I am sure they will prosper from helping people - you know give before you receive - it is kind of a fundamental. 


If you have any stories or examples of a successful business pivot you have done - we would love to hear from you. Just click here and enter your details and we will be in touch.

Human resoruces

Pivoted from Tutoring Company to a Free Virtual School

“Families are facing excruciating decisions this fall,” said Brian Galvin, Varsity Tutors’ Chief Academic Officer. “As COVID-19 cases rise in many parts of the country, parents don’t know whether they can safely send their kids to school, even if schools open. Most parents are not teachers, and the vast majority of parents are worried they can’t keep their kids on track.”
free school
A nationwide survey of 1,00 parents commissioned by Varsity Tutors has shown that 47% of them are considering homeschooling or virtual classes during the 2020-2021 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And since social distancing is highly encouraged worldwide, colleges and universities have also adapted to the demand of having online classes to prevent virus transmissions within the school premises, especially for the children, who are most vulnerable to the virus.

With that, Varsity Tutors have launched a free Virtual School Day where students can access live instructions from the experts. It was also intended to provide online education to every student in the midst of this pandemic.

The Free Virtual School Day offers a free 30 hours per week of high quality, live and online education where tutors can lead each class with experience and knowledge in the course topic and familiarity with virtual education, too.

Varsity Tutors also equip the parents with topics that are both educational and entertaining for their learners which are in the appropriate age for kindergarten up to 12th grade. They also offer adaptive assessment tools to help the parents build grade-appropriate school day plans for their learners and help them do questions and problems with step-by-step solutions that are purposefully designed to help parents during an unusual time.

Core classes include K-12 math (from arithmetic to calculus), reading, literature, writing, and K-12 science (biology, chemistry, physics), as well as a handful of other sessions in science and English.

Virtual School Day also have special sessions for each age group especially elementary kids, middle schoolers, and high schoolers using different materials like The Story of Your Favorite Fairy Tales and Secrets of Staying Healthy, The Science of Pandemics and Video Game Sound Design, History of the National Parks, and Careers in Science.

Even before the pandemic happened, Varsity Tutors have already launched their own online classes, focusing on one-on-one or small group discussions through video chat.

Varsity Tutor’s Chief Academic Officer, Brian Galvin, issued an official statement regarding their Virtual School Day offer during this pandemic:

“The massive number of school closures presents a daunting challenge for both students and parents. While some schools are offering online education, most are sending kids home with minimal self-guided homework or no school resources at all. Parents are rightly worried about their students sliding academically, and having their kid’s time consumed by video games or other empty-calorie entertainment. By providing free, high-quality resources that enable students to maintain academic momentum during this difficult time, we hope to remove a key source of stress for families worldwide.”

Currently, the company owned and developed an application with added whiteboard functionality, document editing, and other tools needed in the tutoring site. And with the high demand for online classes, they now have more than $100 million funding in order to expand their product suite beyond tutoring, to live, online courses, as well as free test prep courses for SAT and ACT.

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