Time for a Change? These 8 Founders Switched Things Up During the Pandemic and Thrived
This year has been hard. But challenge often leads to the best ideas. These entrepreneurs share their biggest learnings.
We asked eight of the entrepreneurs featured on our 100 Powerful Women list: What's one positive change you've had to make as a result of the pandemic?
“I used to be a big believer that office time was essential for productivity, but remote working during the pandemic has proven me completely wrong. Not only has productivity increased — so has happiness. Equally important, we are free to hire the best people anywhere, rather than being limited by geography. Going forward, I highly doubt that we will ever go back to a five-day-a-week office culture.” — Frida Polli, Cofounder and CEO of Pymetrics, a hiring platform that uses AI and behavioral science to create talent matches and increase diversity
“We had gotten into the habit of investing in growth, but when the pandemic hit, we had to take a very hard look at where we were wasting money. Areas where we weren’t seeing a good ROI were cut immediately, and we had to take all feelings out of it and put on our survival hat to keep the business thriving. It was a reset period that actually helped us achieve the highest sales and profits ever.” — Alexandra Cristin, Founder and CEO of Glam Seamless, a hair extension company
“We recognized our reliance on overseas manufacturing. Seemingly overnight, our factory lead times were longer, the price to ship was higher, and our ability to estimate the amount of inventory we needed was affected. As a matter of necessity, we created ways to diversify our production methods, including an on-demand printing process that gives us partial control of manufacturing in-house and allows us to go from design concept to finished product in under two weeks. It’s helping us scale and reach more customers than ever.” — Sophia Edelstein, Cofounder and co-CEO of Pair, a kids’ eyewear company
“We started Shine to make daily emotional support more accessible, but in the wake of the fight for racial justice and the access gap in mental healthcare for marginalized communities, it’s important that our members know our focus on representation is authentic. As two women of color, we didn’t see ourselves — our bodies, our skin color, our financial access, our past traumas — in the mainstream image of ‘wellness.’ We’re being more explicit and sharing our struggles in a weekly email to members.” — Naomi Hirabayashi, Cofounder and co-CEO (left), with Marah Lidey, cofounder and co-CEO, Shine, a self-care and meditation app
“Medable has been working to disrupt the clinical trial process for a while, but with the onset of COVID-19, everything became urgent. We worked night and day with our partners, doing remote training from our own living rooms with sponsors and clinicians worldwide. Prior to COVID-19, this type of patient-centric research was considered to be an essential future state. Now that direct-to-patient research has shifted from edge case to the main case, Medable is a critical technology for COVID-19 vaccine and medication trials.” — Michelle Longmire, Cofounder and CEO of Medable, a platform that decentralizes clinical trials to cut timelines and costs
“We’ve learned the importance of creating space for innovation. Biobot’s first product analyzes wastewater to measure opioids excreted in urine, which helps estimate drug use across communities and create better public health programming. When the pandemic hit, we paused everything and launched a product that could detect COVID-19 in wastewater. More than 400 cities, universities, and corporate campuses are using it to measure and predict cases.” — Mariana Matus, Cofounder and CEO (right), with Newsha Ghaeli, cofounder, Biobot Analytics, a wastewate epidemiology company
“Historically, essential workers are nurses, doctors, EMTs — special individuals who chose a line of work that could put them in danger. As a same-day-delivery company, our drivers and warehouse workers were deemed essential overnight. How can we ask them to remain on the job while state governments are telling everyone to stay home? But our incredible team stepped up. My sister and I treat our employees like family, but it’s now our continued responsibility to make sure they feel supported and rewarded.” — Danielle Carter, Co-owner and co-CEO (left), with Andi Shaughnessy, co-owner and co-CEO, ExpressIt Delivery, a same-day and final-mile delivery service company
Related: 5 Signs It's Time for a Life Change
“When I was diagnosed with Lyme disease in my early 20s, my intensive treatment protocol derailed my planned career path; I couldn’t participate in a traditional workplace. At Chronically Capable, we have always known that when given flexible opportunities, people with disability or chronic illness can succeed. But COVID-19 has shifted the stigmas around remote work; companies realized that to be productive, an employee does not need to be in the office. This is our chance to tip the balance toward greater inclusivity.” — Hannah Olson, Founder and CEO of Chronically Capable, a job platform that matches chronically ill professionals with job opportunities
Check out more stories from our October/November issue's list of 100 Powerful Women.