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Pushing through adversity: Businesses thriving despite COVID-19

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
23 March 2020 3 minute readShare

With the coronavirus pandemic impacting almost every business, some entrepreneurs are actually thriving, pivoting and supporting their employees and the wider public during this difficult time.

Meet Alexandra, Danny, Dean and Esha — four Aussie entrepreneurs who have pivoted their businesses to survive the coronavirus pandemic.

Luxury pandemic retreats

Alexandra Ormerod is the co-founder and CEO of Luxico, a luxury home hotel service.

While the company was founded in 2013 to offer luxury travellers the option to enjoy more “home-style” accommodation over hotels, the coronavirus pandemic has seen its popularity spike, with foreign travellers spending upwards of $200,000 to self-isolate in remote Australian properties.

With the travel industry hit hardest by the coronavirus global pandemic, Ms Ormerod explained she was initially surprised to see an increase in travel to some areas of the country.

Recently diagnosed with Addison’s disease (adrenal insufficiency), Ms Ormerod herself is in the high-risk category for the coronavirus and has cancelled travel plans and is self-isolating in style.

She told My Business: “We had our strongest December ever, despite the bushfires, with a 34 per cent increase on the previous year.

“We’re seeing lots of Aussies choosing stay local and book coastal regions for Easter instead of heading overseas. Our bushfire-affected properties on the south coast of NSW have been the lucky beneficiaries of the increase in local travel, which is great.”

Moving primary education online

Danny Ritterman, the co-founder and CEO of education and technology solution Mappen, has also capitalised on the coronavirus, in a good way, offering free online learning support to all schools during this rough period.

With all primary school closures seemingly inevitable, according to examples from around the globe, Mappen is preparing to support primary students in isolation.

Originally building it as an online curriculum solution with lesson plans from prep to grade 6, Mr Ritterman is now preparing his business to offer adapted lessons for free to all primary schools and their students across Australia to support continued learning in the home.

For secondary students, the shift to e-learning is simple, with the NSW education system being digitised for students to attend virtual classes, but for primary school students this isn’t the case, explains Mr Ritterman. 

“The majority of learning in primary school happens offline," he explained. 

“We’ve developed a world-first online curriculum with class plans covering foundation to grade 6, which is currently being used by more than 350 primary schools.

“As an urgent measure, we’re partnering with our schools to see how we can adapt the lessons so students can continue their education in their homes.”

Keeping the wine flowing

From bushfires to the latest coronavirus closures, Australian wineries are feeling the heat with travel plans halted, empty cellar doors and restaurants and cancelled vineyard weddings.

Wine Depot — a cloud-based tech platform that connects wine industry stakeholders — is making same-day alcohol delivery the norm, but besides from keeping us in close reach of our favourite beverages, the CEO, Dean Taylor, has announced a cellar-door support package to ensure wineries keep trading online. 

“Never before have Australian wine producers faced a challenge like this,” Mr Taylor told My Business.

“Already reeling from the impact of bushfires, smoke taint and a low-yielding vintage, almost overnight their export, trade distribution and cellar-door markets have also collapsed. For many producers, the only option they have left available is to try and maximise sales via their website, mailing list and wine clubs.”

Wine Depot is doing its part to help by providing Australian-owned and operated wineries access to a support package that can help them quickly grow their exposure to this market without having to go through a retailer.

“Our platform allows them to offer their customers a free, same-day or next-day delivery service backed by our partners Australia Post, who, as an essential service, will continue operating throughout the crisis.”

Looking after our most vulnerable

Esha Oberoi, the founder and CEO of aged and disability care provider Afea Care Services, is personally ensuring all Afea’s in-home aged and disability care clients are supplied with sufficient toilet paper and necessities, with additional health protocols being implemented to protect those in their care.

Ms Oberoi is only 36 years old and has overcome depression to build a thriving care business. Today, she is showing true leadership skills, encouraging her 550+ team to come together and support our most vulnerable.

“We have never experienced a pandemic like this. Remember that in our community, we already have people that are vulnerable,” Ms Oberoi said.

“This vulnerability only increases when we as a society choose to live in fear and choose behaviours that spread more fear.”

Pushing through adversity: Businesses thriving despite COVID-19
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Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic is the editor of My Business. 

Maja has a decade-long career in journalism across finance, business and politics. Now a well-versed reporter in the SME and accounting arena, prior to joining Momentum Media, Maja reported for several established news outlets in Southeast Europe, scrutinising key processes in post-conflict societies and enabling citizens to influence decision-making.

You can email Maja on [email protected] 

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