How Tech Startups Are the Key to Adapting to a Pandemic-Altered World

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has changed life as we know it. And even after we get through this - and believe me, we will - many aspects of our lives will completely change or be altered.

I'm talking about the way we dine out, the way we travel, the way we shop, the way we work and learn. The list goes on. Whether we like it or not, the global community will have to change some of their lifestyle habits to adapt to a pandemic-altered world.

But the good news is many tech startups will rise to face the challenges of the world's changing needs by offering solutions other companies simply can't.

Take education, for example.

Whether we were ready for it or not, 2020 is now the year of edtech - technology used to move education forward. According to The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), more than 1.4 billion "learners" are stuck at home right now. And dozens of companies have stepped up to beam classes straight to your living room.

Many of these startups are seeing staggering increases in their user base numbers. While this level of growth is not sustainable, it has forced education ahead in many respects.

Edtech startups have had to scale at unprecedented rates to meet demand; meanwhile, teachers, students, and parents have had to fully immerse themselves in the latest technology just to continue meeting their goals.

In other words, COVID-19 has essentially pushed edtech's innovation timeline forward by five or 10 years - virtually overnight.

There are other sectors where tech startups could have invaluable impact, from health and biotechnology to the ways we meet and conduct business.

Today, I'm going to dig deep into some of these areas where tech startup firms could immensely help us in adapting to the global changes brought on by the coronavirus. These will be the areas most exciting - and successful - for investing...[mmpazkzone name="in-story" network="9794" site="307044" id="137008" type="4"]

The Implications of This Shift Could Be Enormous

As I mentioned, education has been greatly affected by this virus. Of course, when this is all over and we go back to our "normal" lives, I don't personally believe that the majority of kids will continue to learn from home full-time. Going to school every day is an experience that can teach so much more than just a curriculum.

Still, I have no doubt that some of the most progressive cities (New York, Los Angeles, and so on) will see a lasting boost in homeschooling.

Before this crisis, homeschooled kids were such a small minority of the population that I often heard people talk about them as if they were a different species: "Wow, you were homeschooled? What was it like?"

At this moment, homeschooling is the sweeping norm, which means that innovation and adoption are at all-time highs. And I believe that the tech born from this time will stick around - not just for homeschooled learners, but also to supplement school curricula.

It would seem that venture capital firms agree with me on that. A recent survey by TechCrunch indicated that some VCs shifted a large part of their focus to edtech in March... and that many of them are on it full time in April.

But it's not just in edtech that I'm seeing startups winning the fight against the coronavirus...

Tech Startups Winning in Big Ways

One sector where tech startups can absolutely dominate, especially right now, is in health.

As you can probably imagine, doctor-on-demand apps are in high, well, demand right now.

Like who? For European users, Sweden's Kry comes to mind. For those of us in the United States, there's Doctor on Demand or Teladoc.

Let's first look at Kry. Operating across Sweden, Norway, France, and Spain, it's the most downloaded doctor app in Europe - and has unsurprisingly seen a huge rise in downloads recently.

In fact, compared to the same time last year, app downloads are up 61% and consultations are up 80%, with consultations for viral symptoms up by more than 240%.

"Digital healthcare can help add scale and alleviate capacity issues," says KRY cofounder and CEO Johannes Schildt. In addition, the startup has even launched new products, including a free coronavirus symptom checker.

Meanwhile, according to KHN.org, millions of Americans are seeking care by connecting with a doctor electronically, many for the first time. Health systems, insurers, and physician groups said it allows people to practice social distancing while reducing the spread of the disease and protecting health workers.

"Private technology companies such as Teladoc, Doctor on Demand, and Amwell and large healthcare systems can provide a doctor directly to someone who contacts them."

There are also several tech startups that are impacting public safety. Take Norwegian startup EpiGuard, for example.

Transporting patients with infectious diseases is a huge challenge right now, especially considering the speed with which COVID-19 spreads. The risk of transmitting viruses from patients to healthy people and medical workers is very high without taking proper steps at isolation.

Enter EpiGuard, a startup that develops and manufactures medical equipment for the safe transport of contagious patients.

According to startus-insights.com, "EpiShuttle is a medical isolation and transportation system intended for use, in both high-risk scenarios, and in every-day practice, when dealing with resistant diseases or other contagious viruses that require maximum attention. Once the patient is loaded in the EpiShuttle, medical staff do not have to wear full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during transport. The EpiShuttle is CE-marked as a Class 1 Medical Device."

Surviving a Post-Pandemic World with Tech

Aside from making strides in the medical industry, tech startups are also offering businesses and millions of people working from home technological solutions that allow them to do their jobs from the safety of their homes.

According to The Wall Street Journal, "If Amazon deliveries and Zoom video conferencing are any indicator, technology may be more central to our post-pandemic lives than ever. Tech startups that survive would be poised to ride the next wave. For many, getting to the other side means cutting payroll, slashing marketing budgets to $0, eliminating perks, asking vendors to extend payment terms and scratching for additional capital."

Additionally, we've been seeing governments around the globe turning to tech to help them find solutions to tackle the many challenges caused by this pandemic.

And the beautiful thing about it is that a billion-dollar revenue is not a requirement for a tech company to pitch in with an answer.

Speaking to ZDNet, Zoe Chambers, an early-stage investor specializing in deep tech at VC firm Octopus Ventures, said, "The government isn't just looking at big corporations. They also need the help of those who are at the cutting edge of their field, who are creative, and who can react quickly."

In fact, one of the UK's health services, NHSX, recently launched a technology challenge called Techforce 19, asking innovators to come up with ideas to support the elderly, vulnerable, and those self-isolating during the pandemic.

"Start-ups and scale-ups, in fact, have lost no time in responding to governments' call for help. Health service provider Babylon Health, for instance, which provides remote consultations with healthcare professionals, has launched a new service within its app to update patients with information about the virus, as well as to check symptoms and, if necessary, fast-track them to a GP or hospital," stated ZDNet.

"If you have a tech that can be repurposed quite quickly, then it completely makes sense to put your hand up," continued Octopus Ventures' Chambers. "Say if you have an at-home temperature tracking app, initially designed for fertility - then it can easily be repurposed for self-isolating people, because the tech is there."

There are plenty of tech startups rising to meet these challenges head-on. As I've mentioned before, they've got the resilience to weather this storm and the creativity and innovation to offer solutions to all the problems we're facing. Placing our trust and capital in tech startups seems to be one of the safest bets we can take in such an uncertain world.

I'll be sure to update you on the latest startup firms doing great things, so be sure to check back with me soon. As always, be careful, stay safe, protect yourself... and don't let your life and investment opportunities come to a screeching halt. You might miss out on something amazing. I'm here to make sure that doesn't happen.

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