Cambridge Judge student ventures pivot through the coronavirus crisis.
Many startup firms, like many large companies, have adjusted their operations in response to the lockdowns and other measures related to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. We caught up with some current Masters in Entrepreneurship students, class of 2019, at Cambridge Judge Business School to find out how they have pivoted in response to the crisis.
Daniel Gearon (MSt in Entrepreneurship 2019) founded the charity You Okay, Doc? in 2019. Daniel works as a medical doctor, a cardiothoracic surgical trainee at Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, and hopes his startup will support the mental health and wellbeing of doctors and healthcare workers.
In response to COVID-19, You Okay, Doc? has launched The Huddle, a virtual community facilitated by mental health experts and guest speakers, with evolving topics each session to match the needs of frontline workers. The meetings are hosted on Zoom and are completely confidential and independent, so doctors can feel safe to open up. The sessions are currently weekly and deliberately intimate to encourage openness, supporting 25 doctors in the UK per week. The team hopes to expand globally soon and open The Huddle up to 250+ doctors per session with multiple sessions.
Founder and CEO Daniel Gearon said: “The Huddle is our immediate response to the pressures faced by doctors battling coronavirus. The growth and natural extension of this offering feeds into our long-term strategy for permanent mental health support for doctors. The charity’s pre-COVID-19 long-term mission is to provide a service that ensures every doctor can access an independent psychotherapist, with a number of different programmes offering tailored mental health support. We will also facilitate quality research into doctors’ mental health – during COVID-19 and beyond – to ensure our services deliver real impact.”
Francois Gouelo (MSt in Entrepreneurship 2019) co-founded Enso Connect in 2019 in Canada. Enso Connect is a home automation software that leverages smart home devices and AI communication for homeowners, property managers and guests in the short-term rental industry. The team is developing home management software automating operations including checking in, answering guests’ questions via chatbot (for example, what is the best local restaurant? How do I connect to the Wifi?), operating smart thermostats to save energy costs for homeowners, and checking out from the property.
“Our vision is about digitalising the concept of living – living as a service,” Francois said. “We want to create the ultimate smart home experience and connect the devices and services people already have to provide a new standard of smart living.”
Because of the pandemic, short-term rental hosts will not be receiving their usual revenue for a while. But they still have a valuable resource – their home, Francois says. So the team has launched a fundraising drive where people can donate money to provide healthcare workers with a place to rest during their long work shift, with 1000 Canadian dollars allocated to each person. The focus is on Canada, but Enso Connect has also identified a healthcare worker in the UK. “It really depends on who we find that needs this,” Francois says. “What has been quite amazing is that every healthcare worker we’ve been in touch with has not claimed it and instead referred us to someone who might need it more.”
Muthusamy Kaneson (MSt in Entrepreneurship 2019) co-founded Azygos in late 2019. The team was initially building an on-demand marketplace, focused on preventive health. The aim was to enable healthcare providers to provide high-quality, evidence-based care, reach their customers wherever and whenever they are needed, and to predict and prevent adverse health events.
The Azygos mobile app was ready to launch in spring, but the team paused development due to COVID-19, and pivoted to rapidly build software that allows any healthcare provider or organisation to launch a digital practice and start providing Telehealth services in few minutes.
CEO and Co-founder Muthusamy Kaneson explains how it works:
“Providers sign up on the Azygos Consult platform, it takes under a minute to set up and they can start consulting within two minutes. Providers input the patient’s phone number or email, sending the patient a message, which when clicked launches the consult. There are no downloads. We’ve built for healthcare, with a huge focus on simplicity, user experience, safety, privacy and long-term viability.”
The software allows healthcare providers to care for patients virtually, facilitates remote monitoring and can provide support for those who are self-isolating during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Azygos Consult has launched in Sydney and the team is working on making it available in Singapore, South East Asia and other emerging countries.