Corona and Entrepreneurship
What can we say, things are tough around the world right now, and it seems like they’ll stay that way for at least another three or four months, or even longer than that. But amidst all the chaos and the interruptions to regular life, and the fear, there are also possibilities, many of them even.
Crises are always a catalyst for processes taking place in society and in people’s personal lives. Many people became entrepreneurs following a personal or social crisis that they went through, and the current period is no exception to this.
The corona crisis is global and ongoing and world-changing, and in its wake there are already sudden changes and there will continue to be sudden changes and many opportunities.
So, what are the opportunities that I see already following the corona pandemic?
Where are the places that the entrepreneurs who will realize these opportunities will suddenly find an attentive arena and an audience with an open mind, when in the past they faced walls of skepticism?
1) Distance Work:
Distance work/distributed work that doesn’t take place in a single office is a trend that has already existed and spread around the world for two decades, yet still, prior to the Corona pandemic, I estimate that more than 90 percent of people didn’t do any significant distance work.
Now, when the crisis is forcing us to change our habits, and a significant percentage of the population are suddenly discovering the possibilities of distance work, I see many opportunities for entrepreneurs in the field, in particular entrepreneurs who are working on shared workspaces in specific fields that aren’t high-tech, for example delivering distance group activities, distance psychological care, distance performances etc.
And, in accordance with the increase in the desire and the need to work, there is also an increase in the number of entrepreneurs working on shared workspace ventures that are dedicated to particular activities (this trend has caught on over the last decade) – a studio for delivering distance yoga training, a classroom with a whiteboard for delivering distance classes, and more.
Two sub-groups within the category of distance work are distance learning, which is a trend that today is in its infancy and I believe will gain significant momentum after the corona pandemic, and telemedicine, which is just starting out, but the current pandemic has highlighted its necessity, particularly in countries with many rural areas like India, China, and many African countries, where 50 percent of the world’s population lives.
2) Tourism Infrastructure:
Another area that the pandemic has shone a spotlight on is the dependence on global tourism – a $1.7 trillion industry that employs tens of millions of people around the world – during global health crises.
An industry in which in any case almost all its workers live on extremely low profit margins is being completely crushed by the corona pandemic, and afterwards the number of players and competition will be completely different. This situation, in my opinion, will form an opportunity for new tourism entrepreneurs and new entries into the field, with a new approach and with better profit margins.
3) Supply and Production:
If before the pandemic we all felt that we were reliant on Chinese production, now, in the middle of the pandemic, we understand that the situation as it was is too dangerous economically. I estimate that the control China has over global production will diminish slightly following the redistribution of production activities to other countries or local production by many businesses who want to distribute risks.
In my opinion this will provide opportunities to 3D printing entrepreneurs and to other entrepreneurs of robotic production lines and smart and flexible production.
In the same regard, and less intuitively, the current crisis shines a spotlight on the import levels of many countries, including Israel, of raw food materials (in Israel over 90 percent of raw food materials, including flour, oil and sugar, is imported from overseas).
I believe that, after the pandemic passes, there will be great opportunities for Agtech entrepreneurs, in particular urban, desert and sea agriculture. There will also be great opportunities for Foodtech entrepreneurs who produce new raw materials from plants.
4) Computational Biology:
Another field that is already gaining traction and is expected to accelerate greatly in the future, when the lessons from the pandemic are implemented in full, is that of computational biology, and in particular everything connected to tools and models that will help build vaccines and treatments more quickly when new viruses appear in the future (and yes, there will be more and more of these in the future, as long as the world becomes more crowded and connected).
5) Hygiene Habits:
Of course, the current pandemic clearly highlights the increasing population density in the world and the range of connections and international travel. The existing protocols in the world for the containment and treatment of epidemics will need to be updated, and here there is a large opening for entrepreneurs in the field of simple hygiene (hand-washing, soap), and in the area of disinfection, both for people and for raw food materials, and public kitchens.
6) The Internet and Us:
Finally, and as all of us are certainly experiencing for themselves, people’s dependence on online infrastructure has today become more critical than ever. I expect that the efforts at developing internet infrastructures will double and triple in commercial and government funding, and that efforts by companies to advance 5G cellular and 6G WIFI technology, which were already significant, will become many times larger after the pandemic. All of these directions also leave a large opening for communications equipment and smart city entrepreneurs.
To summarize, if you are currently thinking about entrepreneurship, right now, it’s a good time to devote serious thought to it and to begin working on it. And if you are thinking about entrepreneurship, maybe it’s worth taking this time-out in the middle of your life to think deeply about the problems you have been experiencing during the recent period and what you would want to happen instead, and maybe suddenly the entrepreneurship bacteria will also infect you…
Yair Peled is a strategic advisor who specializes in innovation and entrepreneurship, and one of the owners of Peled Strategic Consultancy.