The pandemic of the coronavirus uprooted most aspects of daily life. Moreover, it has uprooted much of the economy built around it.
Nevertheless, from crisis comes opportunity. The pandemic has unearthed green shoots for a new future for some young entrepreneurs.
Fast-growing start-ups in the technology, retail, and food industries have been working to respond to the changing environment. “CNBC Make It” spoke with the three millennial entrepreneurs to find out how they will meet new consumer demand. Furthermore, they said what it might mean for a post-pandemic world.
The novel coronavirus emerged at the beginning of 2020. Thus, first, it hit agriculture. As people feared food shortages during supply chain disruptions and border closures, Supermarket shelves were cleared.
Singaporean agriculture technology Swan of Singaporean start-up Sustenir was working to make food supplies more reliable, even before the pandemic.
The 39-year old co-founder and CEO said that Sustenir’s vision is to grow a more resilient future. He was referring to his vertical urban farm. Thus, the farm enables non-native produce to grow in indoor, controlled environments.
Ben Swan launched the business in Singapore in 2013. Mr. Swan did it to address food scarcity issues and land shortages.
The pandemic has brought more attention to the problem, Said Swan, this year.
Moreover, he added that Singaporeans became a lot more aware of where their produce was coming from. Border closures made some foods more difficult to get. There is a big focus on how they get their productivity up.
Pandemic as a New Solution
Less than ten percent of Singapore’s nutritional needs are produced from within the land-scarce country. It is smaller in area than New York City. The government of Singapore hopes to raise that figure to 30% by 2030 through technology and better land use, as well as investments of more than $215 million in start-ups.
Ben Swan is optimistic that it can also help position the country – and the company – as a leading food innovator going forward.
Swan said that because their system may go literally into any building in the world, they want to be in every major city across the globe. Maybe one day they can even consider exporting certain products into their neighboring countries.
The virus changed agriculture demands. Moreover, it shifted shopping habits. The economic blow and Nationwide lockdowns made retailers and consumers more conscious of their spending.
That is a space cashback platform ShopBack’s Henry Chan has been focusing on for several years.
The Singaporean start-up started in 2014. It gives users a percentage of cashback on every purchase made through its application. Providing $115 million back to more than 20 million users in the Asia Pacific, it has grown steadily. Nevertheless, the business moved quickly to offer new savings when the pandemic hit.
The pandemic has seen shopping habits of consumers to shift to essential needs, according to Chan, such as groceries, at the start of the epidemic. More recently followed, things like domestic travel and fitness products.
In a bid to compensate for lost physical sales, it prompted more retailers to list themselves on the platform.