Learning how to adapt is the reality of any successful business, but COVID-19 was perhaps the ultimate stress test. In a matter of days, businesses in industries such as travel, entertainment and hospitality came to a grinding halt due to lockdowns. Many companies couldn’t withstand the shock of the pandemic and the economic havoc it wrought. And in the first year of the pandemic, the US Federal Reserve estimates that 200,000 more businesses shut down than usual.
Others not only survived the disruption, but thrived. Before the pandemic, for example, Instacart was gaining momentum—but the grocery sector was, for the most part, not digitized. All that changed when COVID-19 hit. According to founder Apoorva Mehta, the app saw five years’ worth of growth in just five weeks. Instacart grew more than 300 percent year over year, and its valuation doubled in 10 months—reaching an astonishing US$18 billion.
Others saw the pandemic as a chance to launch new ventures. When COVID-19 dealt a severe blow to a New Jersey-based deli’s event catering service, which accounted for 50 percent of its revenue, the owner transformed his indoor space into a small market stocked with produce and other kitchen essentials. The move was so successful that the owner was able to open a second location.