How three startups have successfully pivoted

How three startups have successfully pivoted during Covid-19

05 May 2020

5 minute read

We spoke with three startups in the community who pivoted during Covid-19 to find out how they’ve done it and what lessons can be learned.

Covid-19 has forced many startups to rapidly change course. While some are pivoting to help out the health crisis, others are doing so out of economic necessity. In these difficult times, many startups and their founders have, or will be, forced to re-examine their short- and long-term strategies. Pressing concerns include crisis management, workforce welfare, business continuity and cash preservation. Making decisions on how to reposition during or beyond the pandemic is critical. To understand what it takes to pivot, be it significantly or partially, we spoke with three startups in the Eagle Labs and Rise networks about how they have adapted since the crisis began.

Who is pivoting and why

An independent survey among over 900 decision-makers within UK businesses, published last week by logistics firm One World Express, found that 43% have pivoted their product or service since the pandemic began. This is particularly true of large businesses, being the case for 57% of firms with over 250 employees. A quarter (24%) of companies have also begun selling to new demographics of customer since the lockdown began in March.

It showed that 42% of UK businesses are currently exporting their products or services globally. However, in light of the difficult trading conditions resulting from coronavirus, 57% are considering expansion into new international markets in the months ahead. Almost half (45%) of private sector organisations also say the pandemic has made them realise they are overly reliant on one particular marketplace – this figure rises to 58% among large businesses.

Degrees of pivot

There are essentially four types of pivot. There are shallow pivots, which are temporary, one-off responses not repeated beyond the crisis. Deep pivots are modest but important changes provoked by a crisis that remain in place once it is over. Transformational pivots take place when a crisis leads to fundamental re-thinking, direction and action, with significant long-term consequences. Negative pivots result when organisations or individuals respond in a destructive way.

Startups in the community that have pivoted during the pandemic

MediData Exchange Limited

UK medtech firm MediData Exchange enables primary care staff to quickly and accurately create secure, GDPR-compliant patient information for authorised insurers, solicitors and other third parties. When Covid-19 hit and GP surgeries shut their doors, a lot of MediData’s work dried up. Surgeries were inundated with patient calls and emails due to the virus, so MediData decided not to hassle them with more work at a critical time, but instead came up with a solution to lessen their workload and help deal with the mounting claims.

“Our product allows for virtual remote access into a surgery pipeline, so, we went to the surgeries and said give us all of your instructions that you get from DWP (Department for Work and Pensions), solicitors and insurers – all your backlog – and we'll complete the report to the client free of charge,” explains Richard Freeman, founder and chief executive of MediData Exchange.

“It's provided further credibility to fee-paying clients like the insurance companies as to how well integrated we are with GP surgeries, not just from a software perspective but also from a working relationship. It's done an immense amount for our brands and our credibility.”


US Rise member BrainCeek provides work simulations to help candidates find their desired career path and connect them with top employers.

“Although recruiting has slowed down as a result of Covid-19, we have discovered new pain-points from corporations, universities and students, and have made a few moderate pivots to help out during these times,” says Jason Fan, co-founder of BrainCeek.

“From a corporate perspective, we have been helping our partners with designing and coming up with additional virtual work for their summer interns. From a university and student perspective, given the number of students who had their internships deferred or cancelled, we have been working with both parties to actively provide individuals with meaningful experiences for the summer. Through this, we are hoping to mitigate the potential long-term career impact caused by Covid-19 and level the playing field for those less fortunate.”

TAINA Technology

Fellow US Rise member, TAINA Technology, is a RegTech (regulatory technology) business that helps financial institutions comply with their regulatory requirements while saving costs, eliminating operational risk, providing avfull audit trail and enhancing customer journeys.

“Until now, tax documentation has been a physical, in office process dealt with by reviewing paper. Covid-19 prevented people from being in the office to do this process. TAINA was here to help as it allowed clients the ability to use scanned and emailed forms that were executed using its optical character recognition technology to digitise and validate the forms,” explains Rasheed Khan, managing director at TAINA.

“Additionally, the influx of small businesses applying for Paycheck Protection Program loans required the processing of W-9 forms. Our platform can validate the collection of these forms completely electronically. Our solutions allowed financial institutions to continue to execute without hesitation.”

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