March 27, 2020

What does the CARES Act mean for entrepreneurs?

The stimulus package will provide $350b in small business loans to help with covering expenses for 8 weeks. Loaned funds spent on payroll, rent, or utilities could be forgiven, essentially becoming grants that don’t need to be repaid if companies retain or rehire their current employees. It’s complicated but worth diving into. Here is the full text of the bill. Senator Rubio’s office put out a summary of the sections which could be helpful.

Innovating around a pandemic

Entrepreneurs globally are not only innovating new ways to do business but also addressing critical shortages, from masks to ventilators. Using design thinking, and utilizing everything from 3D printers to repurposed windshield wiper motors to retooled manufacturing facilities, entrepreneurs are stepping up to address shortages. Tech giants are forming partnerships and dedicating massive resources in the battle against COVID-19.

Pivoting businesses for good

Isaac Budmen and Stephanie Keefe in New York started making medical face shields at their 3D printing company. They posted the blueprint on their website and hundreds of volunteers are making them for free!

The Bay Area has similar needs, so if you have access to 3D printing equipment, please check with local hospitals to determine their current needs and requests and see if you can help.  Given our “maker” culture in the Bay Area, many tweens and young adults have 3D printing skills.

Last week, Kitsbow was manufacturing premium cycling apparel. When the pandemic hit, their supply chain and market dried up but ingenuity kicked in. They fast-tracked, reconfiguring their facility in North Carolina to make medical face masks and shields. They haven’t had time to update their website but their efforts went viral and now they have orders for 23,000 units for first responders. Please contact them only if you can help them in this mission by emailing them at

Using spare parts can sometimes create something truly beautiful. In Spain innovators at OxyGen figured out a way to use windshield wiper motors and everyday materials to build emergency ventilators and local hospitals are already reaching out to them. Blueprints are available on their site.

The effort to close the gap on shortages of masks and gowns in the coronavirus pandemic also got a boost from fashion designers and manufacturers this week, who are rebooting their operations.

And in France, luxury conglomerate LVMH (owner of the Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, and Celine brands) has pivoted from making perfume to pumping out hand sanitizer.

On the Tech Frontier

In addition to donating 10 million masks, Apple announced a partnership with the CDC and White House Task Force to create an app that will provide a screening tool for COVID-19 symptoms.

On the education front

A number of ed tech companies are supporting teachers as they seek to create meaningful e-learning experiences for their students.

Presence Learning (Ulupreneur) offers free on-demand webinars from the leading minds and changemakers in special education to help clinicians deliver special education-related services to students during COVID-19 school closures.

LearnZillion (Ulupreneur) is providing free content to teachers during school closures (1000+ instructional videos):

 On the employment and investment front

Talent call! Foundry Group launched a COVID-19 Talent Network to match job-seeker talents with employers looking to hire. The effort is based in Colorado, but there really are no borders for remote workers.

Tools to keep your spirits up

Ulupreneurs at BetterUp, a mobile based leadership platform is providing a great tool kit for dealing with emotions and working remotely.

Uplifting stories daily counter the barrage of difficult news.  Examples of recent coverage include: tales of how real families are turning the current situation into something good, or how medical TV shows such as Grey’s Anatomy are donating masks and gowns for real healthcare workers, and a calculator to determine how long that toilet paper supply you’ve been hoarding will last… so maybe you can donate without anxiety? Former CNN news anchor turned entrepreneur, Daryn Kagan shares more good news on her site.

And finally….#MakeAJoyfulNoise!

While in Italy, quarantined folks sing opera on their balconies, in Seattle there’s a movement to get people outside at 8pm and bang on pots and pans, sing, clap their hands to show appreciation for the medical personnel and first responders on the frontlines of the pandemic. Seems like each community has its own version….in Mill Valley just over the Golden Gate Bridge, people are howling at 8p. ( does sound like coyotes) it’s appreciation but also a way perhaps release some of that pent-up stress and frustration.

If you’ve got good news about how entrepreneurs, research and/or businesses are stepping up, please share it with us! You can put a brief description and links in this Google doc.

All references and hyperlinks (to specific products, medical devices, processes, services, companies, stories, articles, or other materials) are for informational purposes only and do not constitute affiliation, endorsement, or recommendation by Ulu, or that such products have been approved by relevant governmental authorities. Nothing herein is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. All product and company names mentioned herein are the trademarks, service marks, or trade names of their respective owners and all rights are reserved to them.

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About the Author: Miriam Rivera

Miriam Rivera is co-founder and managing director of Ulu Ventures