The Back Cover-July 16, 2020

Believe it or not, but many innovative companies were formed in challenging economic times.  This week I am focusing on where innovation is taking place in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.  I found this fascinating and I think you will too.

A pandemic-inspired start-up is turning boring videoconferences into ‘Twitch for olds’   (CNBC)

  • Mmhmm is new beta software that makes it easy to add visual effects and other production to videocalls. 
  • It has raised 4.5 million in seed funding from investors including Sequoia Capital and is led by tech industry veteran Phil Libin. 
  • It’s is one of the first examples of a new Silicon Valley start-up launching a consumer product inspired by the pandemic.

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Crisis Has Jump-Started America’s Innovation Engine. What Took So Long?   (Wall Street Journal)

Chances are there is a company within short driving distance from where you are that has recently gotten into the personal protection equipment business. I know, because my inbox is flooded with pitches from their PR agencies.

Eclipse International, a New Jersey bedding maker, and Aunt Flow, an Ohio-based tampon producer, are among them. They’re making face masks using materials, factories or supply chains used for mattresses or maxi pads.

British vacuum-cleaner giant Dyson Inc. designed the CoVent ventilator in 10 days and is one of several industrial heavyweights committing to make thousands of them. Pittsburgh’s Thar Process Inc., a carbon dioxide extraction and purification company, is bottling a new hand sanitizer that a staff chemist ginned up practically overnight.

Corporations world-wide have moved fast in the fight against new coronavirus. It’s laudable. And, to be honest, it’s a bit perplexing.

If these companies can suddenly pivot on a dime in a crisis, why are so many of them flat-footed in ordinary times?

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