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Tech for Corona: How startups can help in times of social distancing

Jennifer Phan
Mar 17 · 10 min read
Photo by Ales Nesetril on Unsplash

On March 13, 2020 the European Commission put out a call for startups and small businesses with technologies and innovations that could help in treating, testing, monitoring and other aspects to combat COVID-19.

Since various tech companies are rushing now individually to solutions and tips, I wanted to compile a list of innovations (mostly available in the European markets) to help in the time of the Coronavirus outbreak. Below you can find a summary of already existing tech solutions, startups, tools and brands which can support you to navigate through these times to work, live and play and help to limit the spread of the virus.

The list will be continuously updated since many startups are putting in place individual measures to help on a daily basis. Please reach out if you want to be featured as well.


💼 Work

Studies show that we pass microorganisms, ranging from mouth bacteria to flu-like virus, through cash. Businesses can reduce contact with questionable surfaces by accepting the card or contactless payments at the POS, thus limiting the spread of COVID-19.

  • SumUp (btov portfolio company): Fintech Unicorn that enables businesses to accept card payments at the Point-of-Sale or on the go
  • iZettle: Mobile payments company, offers small businesses with portable point-of-sale solutions and free sales overview tool

💻 Remote Work

Covid-19 is shifting working patterns as companies are forced to embrace remote working. Remote-first SaaS companies such as Slack, Zoom or Asana see a surge in demand as employees are forced to stay at home.

  • Notion.co: Notion is your teams all-in-one workspace where they can write, plan, collaborate, and get organized
  • Loom (backed by Point Nine Capital, Sequoia, Kleiner Perkins): Work communication tool that users get a message across through instantly shareable video. Cuts prices and offers free access for education during COVID-19 time
  • Graphy: Data collaboration platform
  • Skribble (btov portfolio company): Allows to sign contracts remotely with just a few clicks in a legally binding way
  • neptune ai (btov portfolio company): Aims to improve the workflow by becoming the next collaboration standard for data scientists
  • 15five: Performance management software. Continuous performance management solutions are extremely helpful when it comes to facilitating effective feedback and regular check-ins between employees and managers. This helps in maintaining an engaged and motivated team
  • Beekeeper (btov portfolio company): Workplace app that connects the non-desk workforce to operational systems and communication channels. Offers the app for 6 months for free to workers in the healthcare sector
  • Layer (btov portfolio company): Github for spreadsheets
  • Sharpist (btov portfolio company): Access to a network of world-class executive coaches online
  • Ledgy (btov portfolio company): Equity management software. Offers now free digital signatures and document templating, which makes granting of employee incentives and signing documents possible even remote
  • Around: Quick, high-impact calls for a new era of work (recently funded by Floodgate and Initialized Capital)
  • Userlane: Digital Adoption Platform to automate and optimize employee and customer onboarding and training with Userlane’s interactive guides. It can be used to train thousands of users anytime, anywhere, making it an ideal solution for remote work.
  • Personio: HR Management and Recruiting solution. Put together an extensive list of best practices for home office
  • Cafecito: Platform that matches like-minded remote workers to meet for lunch/coffee or social happy hours
  • Ben Dobbrick (Associate at btov): Blog article on Future of Work

🤝 Conferences

As the virus is shaping the way we work, we need to rethink how to do conferences as well. Alternative ideas such as webinars and panel live streams have not livened up to expectations. New startups are trying to recreate large gatherings online.

  • Run The World (recently backed by Andreessen Horowitz): Enables event organizers to hold live online events where participants can learn from experts and connect with others while reducing the environmental and financial costs associated with attending large conferences
  • Hopin: Combines Twitch-style live streams of keynotes, Zoom-style video conferencing for groups, and one-to-one conversations inspired by Chatroulette

🎓 Home Schooling

According to the United Nations, school closures in 13 countries to contain the spread of COVID-19 are disrupting the education of 290 million students globally. Millions of teachers and students face a move to online learning. While countries were initially slow to embrace virtual education, it could become the new normal far earlier and to a far greater extent than previously predicted.

  • CENTURY Tech: UK based AI-driven teaching and learning platform for schools. Offers free support to all schools closed due to the outbreak
  • Coursera and edX: Online education companies. Currently offering any university under lockdown free access to its online teaching platform
  • ClassCentral: Free online course aka MOOC aggregator from top universities. Offers right now 450 Ivy League courses for free
  • SimpleClub: Learning app for German students in 8th — 13th grade (3M subscribers). Currently free access until 20.04.2020.
  • Verena Pausder (Founder of Fox & Sheep): Put together a great list of material and platforms for homeschooling and educational online activities for kids during lockdown (in German only)

🏠 Live

👩🏻‍⚕️ Health

In response to the pandemic, telemedicine startups see a surge in demand. Most of the companies saw an increase of 20–40% in bookings in the last weeks. Telemedicine startups provide faster care and help patients to avoid hospitals, where they risk either infecting others or coming into contact with the disease. Even though virtual doctors can’t test people for the disease, they can help to coordinate with healthcare centers.

  • Ottonova (Germany): Digital health insurance. Offers medical video consultation and 24/7 Concierge
  • TeleClinic: Offer medical video consultation for patients with Coronavirus symptoms for free
  • KRY (Sweden): Allows you to consult a qualified health professional within minutes, via your smartphone. Currently offers video consultations with physicians for patients who are symptomatic of COVID-19 or have other risk factors
  • doctolib (France): Online booking platform and management software provider for doctors in Europe. Offers video consultations with physicians
  • Qare (France): Medical video consultation
  • Babylon Health (UK): Builds AI-based platforms that help diagnose patients’ issues. Currently training AI-driven health chatbot to detect Coronavirus symptoms
  • Push Doctor (UK): App to receive medical advice, prescriptions, referral letters and sick notes. At the moment the company works with NHS 111 to support and give advice about the Coronavirus

🏘 Neighbors and Community

Startups connecting the local community become increasingly important as they offer a platform to offer assistance to at-risk neighbors.

  • Wir gegen Corona: Platform which connects volunteers to help people who are at higher risk for illness from COVID-19 because of age or chronic medical conditions (Germany only)
  • Nebenan.de: Neighbourhood network. Help neighbors with errands and childcare (Germany only)
  • Siteinander: Babysitting App for mutual childcare. Offers currently free and unlimited SitPoints for healthcare workers (European wide)
  • Support your local food dealer: Many restaurants and cafes in your neighborhood are suffering right now. You can support by buying vouchers/gift cards at local small businesses
  • Weareoncare: All-in-one care management software. Offers agency software for free until June 2020
  • Panion: They connect people through common interests, values, and experiences based on proximity and have adapted our platform to offer virtual gatherings during Corona

🚚 Food Delivery

As eating outside is less of an option now, food delivery startups are a preferred alternative. While COVID-19 could boost customer demand, it could batter also the restaurants that supply the food and threaten the health of workers who deliver it.

  • Glovo, JustEat, Deliveroo, UberEats: Food Delivery startups continue to operate to deliver food and essential items and put sealed bags, credit card payments, contactless delivery and free delivery in place
  • Ritual: Order-ahead app is a good alternative to order and pick up food since Delivery Hero left the German market
  • Frischepost: Order organic, seasonal, regionally-sourced food (Home-office hack for people in Hamburg & Rhein Main, Germany)
  • Ete Petete, Hellofresh: Meal Kit companies
  • Yamo: Natural organic baby food can be ordered online
  • Spendit: Support your employees in home office with food & healthy nutrition: Employees can buy food anywhere and get a tax-free refund from their employers. They are currently offering a 50% Corona discount
  • Hrmony: Platform for smart employer branding, motivating and retaining employees with tax-free subsidies for lunch and shopping

🎮 Play

Harvard Medical School recommends Yoga and meditation to deal with Corona anxiety. Other ways of practicing self-care are taking time to finally read the books on your reading list, cooking, picking up a new skill and listening to podcasts.

🏃🏻‍♀️ Exercise

  • Asana Rebel: Asana Rebel offers a Yoga-inspired fitness app combining the best of Yoga and fitness
  • Freeletics: Digital Fitness Coach offers home-workouts
  • VAHA: Interactive mirror provides access to personalized, immersive sessions for body, mind, and nutrition at home
  • Online Yoga Classes: Teachers offer classes on Youtube, Instagram, and Twitch (live stream)
  • 8fit: Fitness and nutrition app. Offers now the app for free for 30 days.

🧘🏻‍♀️ Meditation

  • Headspace and Calm: Digital health apps that provide guided meditation sessions and mindfulness training. Headspace is offering right now a free selection of meditation, sleep and other experiences to support you during the global crisis (section ‘Weathering the storm’).
  • Calmer You: Offers a combination of guided meditation, journaling, cognitive behavioral therapy coursework, and other health and wellness material
  • 10percenthappier: Health and wellness platform that offers a simple approach to meditation. Put together free resources on coping with stress, fear, and anxiety related to Corona

👩🏻‍⚕️ Therapy

  • Happify (btov portfolio company): Effective, evidence-based solutions for better emotional health and mindfulness
  • Spill: Slack app supporting employee wellbeing. Opened ask-a-therapist feature to the public, offers tips to stay insane and a free remote therapy session to anyone who’s struggling with working from home and who would benefit from mental support right now

📖 Learn something new

  • Masterclass: Online education platform redefining the digital learning experience by bringing world-class experts to students globally through a cutting-edge technology platform and online videos
  • Skillshare: Online learning community for creators

👩🏻‍🍳 Cook

  • Kitchen Stories: Recipe site and mobile app that features step-by-step photo instructions and video tutorials on making dishes of various types
  • Youmiam: Soundcloud for Recipes
  • KptnCook: Combination of daily inspiration, a smart shopping list, and a mobile cookbook
  • Heavenlynn Healthy: Lynn wrote an article for Endlich Om with some tips for healthy food supply to strengthen the immune system during this time

📚 Read

  • Inkitt: World’s first reader-powered book publisher
  • Blinkist: Key takeaways from the world’s best nonfiction books in text and audio
  • Gatesnotes: Bill Gates shares his favorite books
  • Andreas Goeldi (Partner at btov): Andreas put together a Startup Reading List with all resources he personally finds useful for startup founders, managers, and investors
  • Factfulness: In times like these it is important to practice ‘Factfulness’ and control our “fear instinct” and “urgency instinct”

🎧 Podcasts

  • Curio: Online media startup that curates narrated articles from publications
  • Knowable (backed by Andreessen Horowitz): Offers comprehensive podcast-style audio courses that not only feature curated expert voices
  • Descript: Create podcasts, videos, and transcripts

🖼 Culture

  • Google Arts & Culture: Teamed up with over 2500 museums and galleries around the world to bring anyone and everyone virtual tours and online exhibits of some of the most famous museums around the world
  • Concerts: List of virtual concerts to watch during the shutdown. Dringeblieben.de features German concerts
  • Clubs: ARTE Concert and the Berlin club scene launched a platform to stream Live Dj-sets, Live-Music and Live-performances

💊 Drug Discovery

Disease outbreaks like the coronavirus often unfold too quickly for scientists to find a cure. But in the future, artificial intelligence could help researchers do a better job and be better prepared for outbreaks.

  • BenevolentAI: UK Biotech Unicorn and leading computational and experimental drug discovery platform that enables scientists to uncover new ways to treat disease and personalize drugs for patients. They are using now their AI technology to search for existing approved drugs that might be helpful in limiting COVID-19 infection
  • Healx (funded by Atomico, Balderton and btov): Uses machine learning to find new uses for existing drugs. The company feeds its algorithms with information (from journals, biomedical databases, and clinical trials) to help suggest new treatments for diseases for next outbreaks

While the Corona situation is shaping our everyday life and fuels sudden demand for tech solutions in the short term, this could mean in the future accelerated growth, change of consumer behavior and habits in the areas of remote work, conferences, Edtech, telemedicine, and delivery across all countries.

Of course, the list does not claim to be complete but it is simply an attempt to make the current situation a little bit easier by using the means of existing technologies. If you have any questions, additional suggestions or are building companies in this space, I am happy to start a conversation! Reach out here on Medium, email me at jp@btov.vc or add any tips below in the comments.

btov Partners

btov thoughts from the digital and industrial technology…

Jennifer Phan

Written by

Technology enthusiast. VC @btovPartners. I care about ideas and ventures which change how we work, live and play.

btov Partners

btov thoughts from the digital and industrial technology worlds

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