Founders Respond to Crisis

Our portfolio companies step up to support communities during the pandemic

We’re all being forced to adjust to new realities. For the startup founders we back, the impacts of Covid-19 run the gamut: protecting employees, new economic challenges (and, for some, opportunities), converting to an all-remote workforce, conserving capital, supporting community needs…the list goes on.

Times like these bring out the best in people and organizations. It’s heartening to see our founders rise to the occasion.

Here is a summary of just some of the things our portfolio companies are doing.

No. 1: Providing greater resources for students and teachers

Two of our portfolio companies are offering free or expanded services for students and teachers, as they adjust to the demands of virtual learning.

Epic!—a digital library for K-12 students—is offering its service free for 30 days for students and offering free remote access to any teacher using the service through June 30.

On a similar note, ClassDojo—a communication and reward app for K-12 schools that’s free to use—is expanding its offerings to support teachers in managing remote learning.

No. 2: More accessible, affordable groceries

With restaurants shuttered across the country, the pandemic has put a tremendous strain on the food supply chain. Cheetah—an e-commerce company delivering supplies to restaurants and hospitality businesses—is opening its warehouses to the public to provide access to affordable food to local communities (shoppers save an average of 58 percent compared to local grocers). Individuals and families can now place orders on the company’s app and pick up groceries at four locations in California.

“We’re opening our wholesale services and facilities to give our local community access to the supplies they need during these challenging circumstances,” co-founder and CEO Na’ama Moran wrote on the company’s website. “These are uncertain times, but we will get through this together, and come out stronger on the other side.”

The company also published its food safety protocols, along with ways it is protecting its operation and employees during the crisis. (On that note: Another portfolio company, food-kit delivery startup Gobble, published its safety protocols.) 

No. 3: Community-based deliveries

It’s never been more important for people to have affordable, timely delivery options for items such as food, groceries and medical supplies.

With that in mind, JoyRun—a community-powered delivery platform—has opened its service to all communities. Businesses everywhere can now gain unlimited use of the platform with zero fees or commissions until May 31. The company also organized an event to support local food trucks. (On that note: Ono Blends, which operates a food truck in the L.A. are with a robotic smoothie-maker, is now delivering via Postmates.)

No. 4: Supporting small business

Two of our portfolio companies are supporting small businesses in ways that mesh with their corporate values. The founders of Coast—a messaging app for small businesses—put together online resources for people to find food operators offering take-out and delivery as well as a Paycheck Protection Program Calculator for small business owners to prepare applications for CARES Act Loans. The site includes a helpful FAQ covering the basics of the loan program. Similarly, Docyt—which automates back-end operations for small businesses—created a CARES Act calculator for small business.

No. 5: Improving hospital safety

As hospitals across the country examine practices to reduce opportunities for cross-contamination, robot maker Savioke is stepping up as a resource. The company’s autonomous delivery robots are being deployed to more safely distribute medical equipment, labs and a long list of items from point A to B within a hospital. The company recently published a summary of its work with Hutchinson Health.