2020, The Year That Was: Amelia Gundersen-Herman, Co-Founder And CMO, Assuage Travel "By accepting my new circumstances and looking for creative alternatives, I was able to find a new path during uncertain times."

By Aby Sam Thomas

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Assuage Travel
Amelia Gundersen-Herman, co-founder and CMO, Assuage Travel

Toward the end of 2019, Amelia Gundersen-Herman had quit her regular job with the idea that she'd spend the next year traveling around the world, while finding work she can do remotely in that time as well. However, the COVID-19 crisis in 2020 upended all of those plans- but that didn't mean that Gundersen-Herman wasn't ready to sit idle either. In fact, it was by looking at how people around the world were looking at ways to protect themselves from all kinds of contagion post the pandemic that led her and her co-founder, T. J. Wronski, to launch their company, Assuage Travel, which produces seat protectors that users can use to safeguard themselves when sitting down in public places.

Given that the product can be used on everything from plush business class seats on planes to thin metal waiting room chairs, Gundersen- Herman believes it will help appease people's fears about going back to their regular lives, even as the world continues its battle with the coronavirus pandemic. From a personal perspective, setting out an entrepreneurial outing in 2020 was quite a hustle for Gundersen-Herman- but it remains an experience she is grateful for.

Source: Assuage Travel

"One of the unexpected highlights of 2020 was physically holding our products for the first time," Gundersen-Herman recalls. "After toiling for months to invent a completely new product, working out the design, shape, materials, and packaging, to finally hold the fruits of our labor was a really rewarding feeling. I think that it really makes you feel like you can do anything and gives you a lot of confidence, both personally and in your business, which is really crucial during the early stages."

Related: The Year That Was: Ghizlan Gunez, Founder, The Modist

Time for introspection: Amelia Gundersen-Herman reflects on 2020

1/ You can't control everything, so do what you can with what you have "I thrive in situations where I have control, or at least, influence. 2020 has taught me that I can still flourish when all my plans are taken away in the blink of an eye. By accepting my new circumstances and looking for creative alternatives, I was able to find a new path during uncertain times."

2/ Difficulties can spark creativity, and lower risk aversion "I left my job in December of 2019 to find remote work, and spend 2020 travelling. Almost instantly, all plans of world travel were cancelled, and I was one of the millions of people looking for remote work. The pandemic brought with it new fears and changed habits, which sparked my co-founder and I to come with the idea to create seat protectors. It seemed that the universe was sending me a clear message that now was finally the right moment to start my own venture."

3/ Frequently evaluating and adjusting the course is key to resilience in an unstable environment "2020 has not been a year to rely on tried and true methods. Everything is different, and while some consumer behavior changes could easily be anticipated, others couldn't. In times like these, you must be consistently looking at the data and checking if last week's solutions are still applicable- if they aren't, you must be comfortable changing course."

Related: The Year That Was: Alaa Fadan, Co-founder and CEO, Telfaz11

Aby Sam Thomas

Entrepreneur Staff

Editor in Chief, Entrepreneur Middle East

Aby Sam Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur Middle East. In this role, Aby is responsible for leading the publication on its editorial front, while also working to build the brand and grow its presence across the MENA region through the development and execution of events and other programming, as well as through representation in conferences, media, etc.

Aby has been working in journalism since 2011, prior to which he was an analyst programmer with Accenture, where he worked with J. P. Morgan Chase's investment banking arm at offices in Mumbai, London, and New York. He holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York.  

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