Pandemic and pivot. Two words we have heard over and over this year. Dealing with the response and recovery of a pandemic has hit home for businesses of all sizes, and prioritizing short-term survival has been of utmost importance. While pivoting is a lateral move that can allow you to get from one month to the next, it can also really encourage you to innovate your business and translate your short-term survival strategy into long-term resilience and growth as a company.

Here are some companies that have re-defined their business in 2020, and operationalized initiatives that were a way to 1) give back to their community and 2) keep their business afloat:

  1. Cloudbeds: This relatively new cloud-based hotel management platform served over 20,000 hotels in 157 countries but, as travel slowed down in 2020, tried to think outside of the box within the hospitality industry. Now, they are the middle-man that aggregates the availability of empty hotel rooms, and by partnering with the government, helps find available rooms and beds for COVID-19 patients. This tool has effectively streamlined COVID-19 response and provided hotels with the ability to electronically volunteer their rooms for government/hospital use.
  2. Lyft: This major ride-share company has been partnering with government agencies, health care organizations, and local non-profits this year through a new initiative called Essential Deliveries, where these organizations can request the on-demand delivery of meals, groceries, and life-sustaining medical supplies by Lyft drivers to vulnerable members of their community. This broadens Lyft’s delivery-based business to service other user groups, while also supporting those who need it most.

“Surviving this crisis will require innovation on every level,” said LA City Council Member Marqueece Harris-Dawson. “Partnering with Lyft allows us to expand our emergency senior meals program to provide free, healthy meals directly to seniors at their homes, while keeping afloat the small businesses that contribute so much to the financial and culturally vitality of our communities.”

3. Classpass: This monthly subscription service offers access to in-studio wellness and fitness classes in 2,500 cities worldwide using a single app. In 2020, they saw all in-studio facilities shutter their doors — 90% of 30,000 gyms in 30 countries to be exact. Instead of throwing in the towel, they pivoted their operating model by creating a modified online platform within their app that allowed studio partners to offer live streamed classes and maintain the connection to their clients at home.

4. AdobeMAX: The AdobeMAX conference is an annual global event held by Adobe Systems that is aimed at connecting the international computer design and development community, but can often feel out of reach for designers — it’s been held in Japan, L.A, Portugal and beyond. This year, the Adobe Max 2020 Creative Conference went digital and for the first time ever, was completely free to attend. This gave design enthusiasts around the world access to an immersive and innovative digital experience of over 55 hours of live content by one of the leaders in the industry.

5. Patagonia Provisions: Outdoor clothing retailer Patagonia is well known for sustainable threads and connecting people with environmental action around the world. In 2020 they decided to extend their efforts into the food industry. Patagonia Provisions is a new line of shelf-stable food items that are designed to fuel outdoor enthusiasts. By ‘rethinking the food chain’ Patagonia hopes to bring regenerative organic agriculture to the modern food product industry in an effort to continue pushing for innovation and environmental impact in a global way.

By diversifying revenue streams, each company listed above has not only allowed their business to stay afloat short-term, but has encouraged them to re-imagine their business and test new ideas in a changing market. By testing new, innovative ideas, many of these companies have been able to expand their user base and promote long-term growth in areas they may never have considered before (thanks COVID!).

co-founder @ disco innovation studio. writing thoughtful dialogue on the design of everyday interfaces + experiences.

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