Conflict and hardship for some, represents an opportunity for others. I think of entrepreneurs as mental gymnasts thats seek out society’s obstacles. These obstacles are an entrepreneurs jungle gym.
Any savvy entrepreneur is eyeing the Covid-19 outbreak as an opportunity to support society and make the world a better place. This can be split into 3 buckets: supporting the immediate fight against Covid-19 the virus, supporting the fight against the economic fallout resulting from the virus, and supporting the inevitable measures that are put in place to prevent future pandemics. I’ll break down these buckets below.
Fighting the Pandemic
Because of the highly infectious nature of the virus and a limited ability to test at scale, the primary method of containment has been quarantine.
Regardless of whether an individual is sick.
We don’t have enough test kits to confirm illness and the virus is spreadable when people are asymptomatic. So how can an entrepreneur support the effort?
Quarantine – If the majority of America is quarantined then society is not currently functioning how it has been optimized over the past 50 years. There are many people that simply cannot understand the realities of quarantine because it restricts too many of their modern comforts and needs. Entrepreneurs can and should focus on providing at home services for areas of life that have been restricted.
Food Delivery, Workout equipment, Social engagement tools such as VR and anything that addresses “cabin fever”. Additionally, governments are struggling to monitor and enforce stay at home orders. Surveillance and drone technologies for policing the streets can be used to supplement governmental resources. (I don’t personally advocate for this because of the overarching privacy and governmental power concerns).
Diagnostics – Governments are adopting wide scale quarantine measures as a direct result of the poor diagnostic tools at their disposal. Entrepreneurs can and should focus on developing more sophisticated and accurate diagnostic tools to supplement the governments effort.
We currently rely on in person diagnostics that take considerable time to be lab tested. There is an opportunity to develop IoT testing equipment for at home testing.
Developing at home test kits would support wide scale testing while also supporting quarantine procedures. On the software side, entrepreneurs can provide tools to support at home diagnostic efforts such as Chatbots. Chatbots represent an opportunity to provide telemedicine without taxing pre-existing medical human resources.
Treatments – This is already happening in the private sector. Biotech companies are working on therapies and vaccines to fight the virus. The opportunity for entrepreneurs is in providing supply chain and manufacturing support around medical equipment. Personal protective equipment is in short supply, as are ventilators, breathing support machines and countless other ancillary equipment.
Fighting the Pandemic’s Economic Impact
The quarantine measures are going to destroy industries, businesses, jobs and income. There is going to be a severe level of economic hardship that is a direct result of these measures. Entrepreneurs can help address these issues by building new businesses to hire the at risk populations.
Beyond that, designing tools to support the impacted communities in developing new skills for digital jobs and alternative income streams. Tools such as Gumroad for building and selling information products, Youtube for building video tutorials that generate ad revenue and so on.
Business After the Pandemic
It seems evident that countries that have faced a pandemic in the recent past were better equipped to handle this outbreak. The most recent examples being SARS and H1HN1. We can look to these countries to get an understanding of the type of counter measures that will be put in place to prevent the severity of future outbreaks.
We can expect a desire to install thermal cameras to monitor temperatures of people as a mechanism for identifying sick individuals. We can expect some element of UV cleansing to be incorporated in supply chains to develop a level of anti-fragility. It’s probabe that there will be a push for localized supply chain infrastructure to ensure that in the event of a pandemic, communities will not face a total collapse of their way of life.
We can also expect a massive push for IoT devices for monitoring, diagnosing and gathering diagnostic information at scale. We’ve seen that sleep tracking is a good early warning indicator for the onset of illness. After the outbreak when studies are conducted we can expect to see other early warning indicators.
Once we have an understanding of what they are, its likely that devices will be developed to actively track these indicators. It’s also likely that 3D printing technology will become more widespread. The use of 3D printing to supplement gaps in supply has been a critical element of addressing the current pandemic. As a result, expect these printers to become a staple in hospital systems and other localized systems.
The bottom line: there is plenty of opportunity to drive a positive impact on society. An entrepreneur that keeps their eyes and ears open during this crisis will be able to improve society on multiple fronts.