According to Fortune, the global COVID pandemic of 2020 saw close to 100,000 businesses permanently close, with restaurants being the hardest hit category. Other businesses categories flourished during this same time such as retail and business services.
Bloomberg reports that another 500,000 businesses have opened since the start of the pandemic, however. With accessible technology and online interaction changing almost daily, the unique challenges that the pandemic brought and the natural innovation of young entrepreneurs, new solutions and advancements have been made in various categories.
Read through for examples of young innovators who have launched profitable businesses during this time, proving that entrepreneurs pivot, reevaluate and creatively change during tough times.
- Grade school-aged sisters Brianna and Ashley of Oakland, CA, inspired to help families in need of food, started duck + chick, a leather goods business with a social cause. They began by making jewelry, and have donated proceeds to Heifer International and other organizations. They offer leather-bound journals, monogrammed leather coasters, embossed leather bracelets and more. Take a peek at their leather workshop to see how some of their products are made.
- High school aged brothers Alex and Ben Joel of Virginia created the nonprofit Intutorly.com, a free, virtual tutoring program to aid students with remote learning amid the pandemic. From their website, the brothers “recognized the challenges of learning in the time of social distancing,” and began to connect volunteers to tutor students remotely. They have been featured on CBS This Morning, Washington Post and Good Morning America.
- University of Michigan student Jared Schacter stumbled upon a natural sugar ingredient to use in hot sauce while researching the history of fine dining: bananas. He and three friends were soon collaborating on a hot sauce recipe and getting feedback from friends and family. While the recipe was born in 2019, their company, Bombanana, officially launched in April, 2020, amid shutdowns and is now featured in retail establishments in the US. With sustainability a core value, Bombana is analyzing its emissions footprint with the goal of minimizing, eliminating and offsetting outputs.
- University of Minnesota students Ben and Jake launched UniFit, a community for individuals focused on fitness and health, in April of 2020, as mandates were shuttering gyms, classes and wellness services. Using their knowledge from their finance and marketing courses, they began to understand what active people needed, what goals they had and soon began to offer apparel, group classes and group grocery shopping experiences.
- College of Charleston graduates and siblings experienced internship cancellations as a result of the pandemic. The business,finance and fashion majors Yasmina, Nour and Afif launched a handmade face mask business, Mino Charleston. The idea was born when mask requirements were enforced state wide, and one of them had an allergic reaction to a common mask material. They offer handmade, washable face masks, purses, decoupaged oyster shells and customized and embroidered items in local retail stores and online.
- College of Charleston’s business administration major Matthew Fusco and his brother created an ethical streetwear clothing company FXW Clothing. The apparel has a focus on sustainability and social causes including mental health awareness. From the FXW website, “the textile industry is the second largest pollutant in the world and is filled with human exploitation.” Their partner in manufacturing is Bella+Canvas, which is dedicated to waste reduction and does not contribute to human exploitation.