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Why We Put 137 People on Our Cover

2020 has been a tough year for everyone. To find new success on the other side of this crisis, we must work together.

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This story appears in the July 2020 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Mustafa Nuur was born in Somalia but fled after terrorists killed his entrepreneurial father. He eventually settled in Lancaster, Pa., where he launched a startup called Bridge. It hosts cross-cultural experiences — ­dinners, gatherings, and so on — so that immigrants, refugees, and locals can better understand each other. “There’s nothing that can replace sitting across from someone who’s different from you and hearing their story,” he tells me.

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But something would have to replace it, of course. When COVID-19 swept through America, sitting across from someone wasn’t an option. Nuur was scared. Then he had an idea. The immigrants and refugees he works with could become essential workers, helping homebound residents. For example, he has a Syrian refugee family who, just days before the lockdown, hosted a dinner in their home. One attendee was an elderly woman who lives alone. When the lockdown began, the family began delivering this woman’s groceries, running her errands, and calling daily at 6 p.m. to check in.

Related: 5 Tips to Leading Your Company Through the Chaos

“It really made me think about how life should be every day,” Nuur says. “We should be having these relationships.”

I agree. And I think we can get there.

I have the privilege of meeting many entrepreneurs, which means I also witness their great collective irony. Even during good times, entrepreneurship feels lonely. We have chosen a path of self-determination, which can be maddening and isolating. And yet, here’s the crazy thing: We all deal with the same problems. Everyone has impostor syndrome. Everyone wrestles with management, or finances, or plans gone awry. We are alone together.

Now our barriers are coming down. We are all, for the first time in our lives, openly wrestling with the same problems at the same time. Confidence isn’t expected; clarity is impossible. We felt isolation and then doubled down on connectivity. We came to share openly with others and rely more heavily on them, too. 

That’s what we wanted to honor in this issue, which has been a long time in the making. To understand it, here’s the backstory.

In March, as lockdowns began, the team here was preparing for our June issue. (We work months in advance.) Then June was canceled, a victim of uncertain economics. Our next issue would be in July — a time that seemed impossibly far away, in a world we couldn’t envision. We didn’t know where to begin, so we started with a question: Who should be on the cover? In normal times, our covers feature a celebrity…but that seemed like the wrong tone.

“Nobody wants to be the face of a pandemic,” someone on our team said.

Related: How to Avoid Feeling Overwhelmed During the Coronavirus Pandemic

What could we predict about the future? We agreed on this: Entrepreneurs would not give up. They’d join together and shift from panic to adaptation. By July, we figured, people would have plans. They’d find opportunity. They’d collectively carry the world forward.

So who should be on the cover? Entrepreneurs should be on the cover. “Let’s fit as many people as we can,” I said, which turned out to be 137. We wanted them to be a representative sample of entrepreneurial ingenuity — people who work at every scale, at every experience level, running solo businesses to international powerhouses. Our sole filter: They had to have done something adaptive during the pandemic, whether it was helping their team, their community, their customers, or others. We’d include everyone who was quoted in the magazine, as well as people we’d simply heard about and admired. One day, for example, I read a local news story about Maya Gilliam, who saw no future in the spa she’d run for years — so she transformed it into a boutique farm and upscale hemp dispensary called Hempress Farms. I loved that. On the cover!

Does this sound messy and haphazard to you? I agree — but what else is there, really? Entrepreneurship is also messy and haphazard, the product of envisioning a destination and then improvising your way there. We’d all prefer perfection, but we must settle for this instead: When we have an idea, and join with others to make it happen, we have a chance to create something meaningful. On any given day, that’s the best we can do.

Related: How to Make the Most of Your Ambition

The world we couldn’t imagine in March has now come into focus. New businesses are launching. Old ones pivoted. Just as we are sending this issue to the printer, many people are leaving their homes and joining a movement for racial equality —­ another seismic event that could pull us apart or create togetherness and hope for a better future.

I do not know what comes next. But I sure know this: We won’t get there without each other. We were never alone, even when we felt we were. Now we know it.

 

These 137 people represent the wide range of entrepreneurs adapting to COVID-19. Those interviewed in our July/August issue are linked to their corresponding stories; others are explained here, with more on Entrepreneur.com and @Entrepreneur on Instagram.

Row A

1/ Maghan Morin 

2/ Jeanine Suah 

3/ Eric Yuan, founder and CEO, Zoom

The videoconference platform became a social lifeline during the crisis, and Yuan formed a new advisory council to improve security and privacy.

4/ Tom Colicchio, chef/owner, Crafted Hospitality

The Top Chef judge and restaurateur helped found the Independent Restaurant Coalition to advocate for the industry. 

5/ Rebecca Minkoff, cofounder, Female Founder Collective

The designer launched, along with cofounder Ali Wyatt, a virtual training program to help entrepreneurs prep to raise capital.

6/ Sean “Diddy” Combs, founder, Our Fair Share

The rapper created a platform to help minority entrepreneurs access relief capital during the pandemic. 

7/ Adam Contos

8/ Pierre Laguerre, founder and CEO, Fleeting

Fleeting connects commercial drivers with on-demand jobs; once COVID-19 hit, it focused on getting supplies deployed, fast. 

9/ Deepti Sharma, founder and CEO, FoodtoEat

The catering service helps minority-owned food vendors grow their businesses. Lately, Sharma’s robust network has helped feed folks in need. 

10/ Vanessa Braxton, CEO, Black Momma Brands

Braxton shifted her vodka distillery to produce hand sanitizer. 

11/ Matthew Herman

12/ David Kien

13/ Afton Vechery and 14/ Carly Leahy, cofounders, Modern Fertility

The fertility startup collected and shared data on how the crisis is impacting women’s plans to have children. 

15/ Sara Blakely



Row B

1/ Rob Price

2/ Christina Perla, cofounder and CEO, Makelab

The 3D-printing company pivoted from consumer products to face shields and custom-fit PPE. 

3/ Michael Lastoria, cofounder and CEO, &Pizza

The brand donated “hero pies” to local hospital workers and partnered with Citi to expand the program.

4/ Natalie Madeira Cofield, founder and CEO, Walker’s Legacy

The entrepreneurship collective for women of color launched an emergency grant to help students displaced by the crisis. 

5/ Javier Garcia Del Moral and 6/ Paco Vique, cofounders, The Wild Detectives

The Dallas bookstore said it was becoming a travel agency, but searches on its site for destinations returned related book suggestions. The prank saw sales jump 200 percent.

7/ Reshma Shetty, cofounder, Ginkgo Bioworks

The biotech company offered $25 million worth of no-cost work on its platform to projects fighting the virus.

8/ Andy Hunter

9/ Ben Parsa, CEO, Inside Weather  

The furniture company shifted to make face shields and masks, and made their designs open-source. 

10/ Marie Kondo

11/ Guy Fieri, chef, Knuckle Sandwich

Fieri raised more than $20 million for the struggling restaurant industry. 

12/ Jasmine Crowe, founder and CEO, Goodr

The food-waste management company launched free grocery pop-ups in communities of need.

13/ Kent Yoshimura and 14/ Ryan Chen, cofounders, Neuro

The wellness-­focused gum brand had relied on in-­person fitness events to drum up business. To stay top of mind, the founders started creating at-home workouts to keep people healthy. 

15/ Taraji P. Henson, founder, The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation

The actress launched a campaign to provide free tele-therapy to African American communities. 



Row C

1/ Paul Carrick Brunson, founder, Knowledge Share

The serial entrepreneur has attracted thousands of viewers to his twice-weekly livestreams about navigating business challenges. 

2/ Mariam Naficy, founder and CEO, Minted

The stationery and wedding invitation company launched “Change the Date” products.

3/ Eric Yaverbaum

4/ Magic Johnson, CEO, Magic Johnson Enterprises

He provided $100 million in loans to minority- and women-owned businesses.

5/ Rick Stollmeyer, cofounder and CEO, Mindbody

The management platform for fitness brands launched a free product to help clients easily shift to offer online classes.

6/ Cheryl Leung

7/ Ethan Bechtel, CEO, OhMD

The platform lets doctors send HIPAA-encrypted texts to patients, and it was made free during the crisis. 

8/ Alexandra Fine

9/ Gregg Renfrew, founder and CEO, Beautycounter

The business saw a threefold increase in new independent makeup consultants at the brand, helping laid-off industry workers find new income.

10/ Pitbull, rapper

The Grammy-winning artist helped launch the Hispanic Small Business Center to provide support to Latino entrepreneurs. 

11/ Ava Duvernay, founder, Array Alliance

The filmmaker launched Array Grants to help crisis-impacted festivals and screening series that focus on narrative change by people of color and women. 

12/ Levi Fried

13/ Harmony Sage

14/ Ryan Roslansky, CEO, LinkedIn

The social network made job postings free for hospitals, disaster relief nonprofits, and medical device companies. 

15/ Todd Heiser



Row D

1/ Achal Patel, cofounder and CEO, Cabinet

The medicine startup launched in March and quickly started offering a “kit” with hand cleansers and drugs to manage COVID symptoms.

2/ Sudheesh Nair

14/ Stan Khlevner

15/ Christina Stembel



Row E

1/ Shaan Sethi and 2/ Neela Sethi Young, cofounders, Jaanuu

The medical apparel brand pledged to donate 200,000 masks to Baby2Baby, a nonprofit that helps children in poverty. 

14/ Mary Spio, founder and CEO, CEEK VR

The virtual reality company is working with entertainers to create live-performance experiences.

15/ Ross Kramer



Row F

1/ Ariela Safira

2/ Garry Cooper, CEO, Rheaply

The asset-sharing platform provided its technology to help Illinois medical facilities share ventilators and supplies. 

14/ Frank Yang, founder and CEO, Simplehuman

Sales soared for the brand’s touch-free garbage cans and soap dispensers, and the company distributed free products to caregivers. 

15/ Anna Whiteman



Row G

1/ Pasha Chikosh

2/ Miki Agrawal

14/ Jon Taffer

15/ Tommey Walker, founder, Detroit VS Everybody

Walker launched “everybody vs covid-19” T-shirts; proceeds benefited Detroit businesses. 



Row H

1/ Brian Smith

2/ Nate Checketts

14/ Lillian Chan 

15/ Mike Whatley

Row I

1/ Katie Sturino, founder, Megababe

Demand for the brand’s hand sanitizer soared; the company prioritized donations to those most in need. 

2/ Irina Logra

14/ John foley, founder and CEO, Peloton

Sales spiked when people panic-bought at-home bikes, and Peloton shifted production to its instructors’ homes.

15/ Jaime Schmidt, cofounder, Schmidt’s Naturals

Schmidt launched The Entrepreneurial Dream Project, a grant and mentorship program for new businesses building during the crisis. 



Row J

1/ Jaqi Wright

2/ Nikki Howard

14/ Michelle Kennedy, cofounder and CEO, Peanut

The social app for women launched new features to help users with pandemic fatigue and anxiety avoid COVID-19 conversations. 

15/ Raj Kapoor, chief strategy officer, Lyft

After recovering from COVID-19, Kapoor helped launch WorldWithoutCovid.org to connect interested citizens to clinical trials for vaccine discovery.



Row K

1/ Ken Giddon

2/ Leslie Voorhees Means

14/ Yancey Spruill, CEO, DigitalOcean

The cloud provider launched the Hub for Good to help developers share tools and build projects to aid the crisis. 

15/ Troy Parker, CEO, Innovative Labor and Cleaning Services 

Some people with criminal records, including Parker, are ineligible for relief loans. Now he’s working with senators to advocate to the SBA.



Row L

1/ Jacquelyn De jesu Center, founder and CEO, Shhhowercap

The founder donated the brand’s waterproof, washable, antibacterial shower caps to labor and delivery units as PPE. 

2/ Matt Ridley

14/ Muhssin El-Yacoubi 

15/ Bary El-Yacoubi 



Row M

1/ Jennifer Perkins

2/ Temie Giwa-Tubosun, founder and CEO, LifeBank

The medical-­delivery company launched drive-through mobile COVID-19 testing centers in Nigeria. 

14/ Michelle Ng, founder, Vancouver Foodie Tours

Ng pivoted to create a platform to help small businesses sell their products online, building a digital destination for artisanal goods. 

15/ Randy Dewitt, founder, Front Burner Restaurants

DeWitt created Furlough Kitchen to distribute free meals out of his shut-down restaurants, and shared branding and operations info to encourage other restaurateurs to do the same.

Row N

1/ Dave Hunt

2/ Patty Clisham

14/ Lisa Price

15/ Mustafa Nuur, founder, Bridge

Bridge helps refugees and immigrants connect with local communities. During the crisis, they’re helping care for local senior citizens. 



Row O

1/ Regal Patel

2/ Nishant Patel

3/ Sahil Patel

4/ Lori Coulter and 5/ Reshma Chamberlin, cofounders, Summersalt

The swimwear brand launched Joycast, a text hotline that sends heartwarming videos or funny memes to people.

6/ Heather Hopkins

7/ Shan-Lyn Ma, cofounder and CEO, Zola

The wedding-planning site helped users navigate postponements with guidance, expert advice, and support initiatives. 

8/ Andrey Lunev

9/ Emily L’ami

10/ Deepak Rao

11/ Siddharth Batra

12/ Romy Newman and 13/ Georgene Huang, cofounders, Fairygodboss

The online career community for women offered free résumé reviews during the crisis. 

14/ Jennifer Mazzanti

15/ Carl Mazzanti



Row P

5/ Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google

Google launched features to help small businesses easily communicate new hours and preferred delivery partners, and promote gift card sales. 

6/ Meghana Patel

7/ Jerry Orans, founder, Hack the Pandemic

The 16-year-old created a network of makers to 3D-print face shields for hospitals. 

8/ Hamza Mudassir

9/ Kelly Mcculloch, chief people officer, Taco Bell

The brand committed to hiring 30,000 new team members during the summer months.

10/ Mahi de Silva, cofounder and CEO, Amplify.ai

The AI chatbot was deployed pro bono to government health organizations to help them share vital information. 

11/ Matt Higgins

12/ Daniel Lubetzky, founder, KIND

The snack-bar brand has committed $1 million and helped launch the Frontline Impact Project to donate food to frontline workers. 

13/ Larry Connor

14/ Keba Konte, founder, Red Bay Coffee

When the coffee roaster closed its stores, its mobile coffee van grabbed attention — and helped boost e-com sales 350 percent. 

15/ Francis Davidson



Row Q

5/ Pina Ciotoli and 6/ Adriano Ciotoli, co-owners, WindsorEats

The events business pivoted to create specialty deliveries (like boxes of local beer and wine) that support community businesses. 

7/ Mike Ziegenbalg

8/ Alina Mikhaleva

9/ Peter Demarzo

10/ Alex Howland

11/ Aziz Hashim

12/ Karen Akunowicz

13/ Kulveer Taggar, CEO, Zeus 

The company previously arranged long-term housing for business travelers; it pivoted to help displaced college students find housing.

14/ Chriselle Lim and 15/ Joan Nguyen, cofounders, Bümo

The education-based childcare center found a long-term opportunity as it shifted to digital amid the crisis. The interactive preschool now has a 2,000-person waitlist. 



Row R

5/ Ashley Huffman

6/ Salomon Mishaan 

7/ Laura Spaulding 

8/ Danny Cattan

9/ James Vitrano

10/ Alexandre Lazarow

11/ Maya Gilliam, founder, Hempress Farms

When her spa had to close, Gilliam pivoted and rebranded to become a hemp dispensary and remain open for business. 

12/ Tariq Farid, founder and CEO, Edible Arrangements

The company started offering fresh produce deliveries in addition to their signature bouquets and saw sales soar. 

13/ Meena Harris

14/ Paul Wolfe

15/ Alfonso Olvera, cofounder, Aries

The organization helped redesign an anti-aerosol box to keep doctors safe from contaminated air during intubations. 

 

Jason Feifer

Written By

Entrepreneur Staff

Jason Feifer is the editor in chief of Entrepreneur magazine, and host of two podcasts: Build For Tomorrow, a show about the changes that got us here, and how to thrive in a changing world; and Problem Solvers, about entrepreneurs solving unexpected problems in their business. He writes a newsletter about how to find opportunity in change.

Prior to Entrepreneur, Jason has worked as an editor at Men's Health, Fast Company, Maxim, and Boston magazine, and has written about business and technology for the Washington Post, Slate, New York, and others.

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