When the world screeched to a halt in the spring of 2020, most people paused with it — office workers stayed home, schools closed, cities emptied. But in that moment of stillness, a brave few sprung to action to create new businesses.
We surveyed our readers and found that more than 300 of them had started a new venture since the onset of the pandemic. Almost all of those businesses are not only still in operation, but are set to grow in 2022.
As far aswhyfounders chose a global health crisis as the time to take on the already risky prospect of entrepreneurship — the answers varied.
For some, drastic changes to daily life signaled market shifts that could lead to unprecedented opportunities.
“Pet adoption rates were at an all-time high, and I knew that once the country opened back up, people would need sitting services,” says Amber Kelly, who ownsBeach BuddiesPet Services in Delaware.
Brett Ottley, who foundedCantilever Inspectionin Kansas, echoes the same sentiments. “With record home sales, I saw a need for more home inspectors to keep up with demand.”
For others, it was disruption in their personal lives, not the market, that served as the impetus for becoming their own boss. Many founders reported that the hardships caused by the pandemic catapulted them into entrepreneurship.
“Both my wife and I were laid off [during the pandemic] and we had always wanted to start our own business, so it was the perfect time,” says Brad Abell, owner ofLittlest Babe, a baby products company.
“The pandemic was very tough on my mental health because I am a social guy who loves to go out and meet new people,” says Pratham Doshi, who founded professional skills development toolWorthi. “Being at home, I needed something to keep me busy. Having Worthi during the pandemic turned into my silver lining and I was able to stay sane.”
The businesses themselves were as varied as the inspiration behind them.
The food and beverage industry represented10.8%of the companies. Retail came in next with7%,followed byapparel and fashion(5.1%), internet (4.8%), and marketing and advertising (4.8%).
The most common sources of capital to get started:
Personal savings —82.9%
Friends and family —14.6%
Angel investors —10.5%
Regardless of how they gathered the initial funds, founders went on to innovate across industries.
Some standout ideas:
Made by Koa:a bedding company solving the age-old problem of changing duvet covers
Deskvana:a meditation and breathwork app that integrates with Slack