Coronavirus: what startups will emerge from the crisis?

Maria Teresa Cometto —  May 11, 2020 — Leave a comment

Is the coronavirus economic crisis similar to those triggered by the terrorist attack of 9/11 and the financial collapse 2008?
If true, it should inspire us a pinch of optimism: from those crises new ideas emerged, startups that became a great success, because they responded to real needs and had to focus their resources well in a difficult climate, with little money available.

“9/11 inspired innovation” was the headline of a FastCompany article on 9/9/11

An example? Meetup, born from the rubble of the Twin Towers to help people organize themselves in communities based on shared interests: today it has 44 million members in 2,000 cities in 190 countries in the world, and is part of the AlleyCorp group led by one of the veterans of the New York startups , Kevin Ryan.

Another example is Kickstarter, the platform where creatives from all sectors seek lenders for their projects: it was born on April 28, 2009, in the midst of the Great Recession. In recent years, 18 million people have used it to make their “dreams” come true, raising $5 billion for nearly 200,000 projects.

Here is the story of Meetup as Scott Heiferman told us in “Tech and the City”.

But a far more devastating tragedy still was to befall New York and Silicon Alley: the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. An absolute evil that, however unintentionally, generated a good seed.
Scott Heiferman: “I was on a bus, going from the East Village to my house in NoHo that morning. I heard the news on the radio of the first aircraft hitting the Twin Towers and I decided to go on the roof of my apartment building. I arrived a few seconds after the second plane had hit. And then I lived through this experience I often talk about, of having more conversations and talking to more people in the hours and days after 9/11 than I had in all my previous years in New York. And that was intriguing because until then I had no particular interest in my local community. After 9/11, I became interested in the simple pleasure of talking to neighbors, to get to know them. And I understood how powerful people can be when they get organized. In those days we saw lots of vigils and support groups and I became interested in how people can get to know more neighbors, how in the future they could organize local communities about anything, and that led to Meetup: use the Internet to organize individuals in a community. A concept that then, well ahead of Facebook and the emergence of the term ‘social media’, seemed ridiculous.”

Maria Teresa Cometto

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