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- The disruption from the coronavirus pandemic is forcing many businesses to rethink their strategies.
- Shark Tank judge and investor Barbara Corcoran praised several of her winning businesses for how they were handling the turbulent shift.
- The founders of Cousins Maine Lobster, Boho Camper Vans, Nardo’s Naturals, and the Comfy told Business Insider about their pandemic pivot strategies, and their advice for other entrepreneurs looking to follow their leads.
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In order to land a deal on the TV pitch show “Shark Tank”, you have to think on your feet.
Agility and adaptability are key characteristics of the businesses that catch the eye of judge and investor Barbara Corcoran.
In a LinkedIn post, Corcoran highlighted the quick response that her entrepreneurial partners have executed in the face of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“My Shark Tank companies are making me very proud right now,” she said. “They continue to blow me away with their creativity and dogged efforts to reinvent themselves and change their business models.”
Business Insider reached out to those founders and asked them to share their pandemic pivot strategies, and their advice for other entrepreneurs looking to follow their leads.
Their responses have been lightly edited for length.
Cousins Maine Lobster fast-tracked a mobile ordering app and take-home meal kits.
Jim Tselikis and Sabin Lomac of Cousins Maine Lobster told Business Insider:
The biggest thing we did to pivot with our business was the introduction of our Cousins Maine Lobster mobile app, and that has been huge for our business.
We made sure that we expedited this to get it out to everybody, because what we were finding is that the app was a natural piece that made customers feel safe and comfortable ordering.
Obviously, no one could have foreseen COVID or how extreme it was coming, but as we always try to prepare for our business to be ahead of the curve, to be better, to be ready for the next thing and stay out in the forefront.
Innately you have something in your business that can adapt, and when these times come you just need to really hone in and focus on saying what can we do — small or big — to help our business last and to help get to the consumer.
Nardo’s Naturals Skincare launched hand sanitizer and dipped into a rainy day fund.
Danny Mastronardo of Nardo’s Naturals Skincare told Business Insider:
Perseverance has been one of the keys to our success. And in recent weeks, that has meant adapting with the times. We now provide a CDC-approved hand sanitizer.
Because we operate in our home state of Florida, we were able to quickly turn around a product that is not only safe for our consumers, but the sales allowed us to donate thousands of sanitizers to local hospitals and first responders. Giving back to, and being in touch with, our community is an important part of how we choose to run our business.
From a financial standpoint, we have always erred on the side of caution, ensuring that we can cover overhead for a period of time in the event of any situation. Even if the contribution is minimal, we find that consistency is the key to setting aside a “rainy-day fund” and over time the growth will be vital to any emergency expenses that may arise.
Boho Camper Vans put plans on hold to focus on the core mission.
David Sodemann of Boho Camper Vans told Business Insider:
We are in essence, a true “social distancing” travel option. It’s a way to take the safety of home on the road. Our mission as a company is to get as many people on the road as possible, and the effects of COVID-19 are pushing us to accomplish this faster.
COVID-19 has made us realize the importance of our local community, and Boho’s place in it. During the entire month of May, Boho donated rental trips to healthcare workers in Phoenix to provide rest and refuge from their high-stress daily grind.
A few tips that have paid off are as follows:
1) Treat your employees like family. Never has our staff felt more important to the future of Boho, than it has during this crisis.
2) Focus on what you do best. At Boho, we had to pause on certain opportunities to ensure we preserved what got us to where we are: building high quality vans at an affordable price.
3) Have compassion. A single kind gesture can have a ripple effect on those around you and the community at whole.
The Comfy invested in the highest ROI: advertising and e-commerce.
Brian and Michael Speciale of The Comfy told Business Insider:
An important lesson we’ve learned is that business NEVER goes the way you think it will—there are always obstacles flying at you from every direction, with the coronavirus being just the latest.
So, when the quarantine hit and all of the retailers that were selling their big wearable blankets suddenly shut down, we immediately searched for the opportunity hiding in all the chaos. Instead of crying about losing the retail side of their operation, we went to work on what we could still control—our Amazon and DTC business.
Well, it turns out The Comfy is the perfect stuck-inside-the-house product, and that combined with upping our advertising spend has led to some staggering results: our revenue is up FIFTEEN TIMES over what it was a year ago.
We think it’s another lesson in finding opportunity where you might not think it exists, and then—most importantly—taking action.