April 25, 2020

Making sense of the latest $480B package once again has many startup founders, small business owners, and even hospitals, on pins and needles to see if they will receive the dollars they did not in the last round of emergency relief.

Duke University is also cataloguing alternative sources of cash relief available to entrepreneurs popping up around the world as you will see in this week’s column. We also continue to focus on the major crisis facing senior residential facilities and nursing homes and some hopeful steps to help stop the deadly spread of the virus among the most vulnerable.

As always, we highlight everyday heroes from entrepreneurs to garage hobbyists trying to make a dent in the battle against COVID19. And finally, happiness is achievable, and now there’s a free course to help you get there.

Much Needed $480B Relief Plan Signed

$310B will go to those in queue for the Payroll Protection Program who didn’t receive money last time because the program ran out of funds. Small business owners were angry that big companies landed large loans. Now many such companies like Ruth’s Chris and Shake Shack are returning the loans. While experts say there is a fine line between what is legal and what is ethical, there is hope others will cough up voluntarily.

Under new Treasury guidance issued Thursday, PPP borrowers must certify “in good faith” that they absolutely need the loans to keep operating. That includes taking into account aspects such as business activity and their ability to access other sources of capital.

Helping entrepreneurs find COVID-19 cash relief

Many founders are desperately trying to keep their businesses operating and their employees working. Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business has launched a searchable website to help any entrepreneur in the world, for-profit or nonprofit, struggling due to the economic impacts of COVID-19, to locate cash relief resources in their community.

Free certification courses for unemployed workers.

The Coursera Workforce Recovery Initiative is teaming up with state governments in the U.S. and the leadership of countries around the world to offer 3,800 courses at no cost from top universities and corporations, including Amazon and Google. The free courses, which usually cost $399 a year, are focused on skills and professional certifications that will help out-of-work individuals find new jobs in high-demand sectors.

The entrepreneurial spirit lives

Many business owners shut their doors when the pandemic hit. But some have found innovative ways to continue to survive, maybe not bringing in the same dollars, but surviving. It’s all about connecting with customers in a new way, like wine seller John Kapon who took his tastings virtual. He plans to continue after the shelter in place ends. Gym owners are coaching other studios to take fitness classes into people’s homes virtually. The list of businesses pivoting grows daily. Some advise being nimble and quick to recognize that the new normal will be unlike anything we’ve ever known.

Senior Living Facilities Need COVID19 Testing Kits Now

With deaths in senior care facilities including assisted living and long care homes now estimated at more than 10 thousand, Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living, said that COVID19 testing kids are needed now to identify asymptomatic residents and staff members and prevent the spread of the disease. “Plain and simple, whether it’s our federal, state or local health agencies, long-term care facilities need adequate testing kits and personal protective equipment. And we need them now,” Parkinson said.

Can empty hotel beds help the crisis for senior living facilities?

As senior living operators look to reduce the pandemic’s impact, one partial solution may be available in currently empty hotels, according to Grant Warner, principal at Dallas-based D2 Architecture. As the coronavirus pandemic began to affect parts of the United States, Warner partnered with hospital design firm HKS, 12 Oaks Senior Living, Heritage Oaks Management, Brasfield & Gorrie and Bridge Construction Group to gather information from senior living communities about their pressing pandemic building needs. “This would allow facilities with outbreaks to reduce density inside the senior living facility itself and reduce stress on staff,” Warner said.

A free all-in-one digital health mobile application for patient care and health management for senior communities.

The app, called Outpatient, features group collaboration and communication as a tool for monitoring patient progress and automatic updates. It also provides a simple solution to quickly and easily automate family updates. Just as teleconference tools like Zoom and Dialpad replace in-person business meetings, the Outpatient App can enable direct communication with families and community in a remote, HIPAA compliant, and controlled manner. Currently, the application is used by health systems, senior living communities, military medical centers and families with ongoing caregiving needs.

Have COVID19? Help track the disease symptoms

A wide variety of symptoms have been reported for COVID19 from difficulty breathing to hallucinations and even stroke. Now there is a new tracking app that brings it to the neighborhood level, examining exactly what kinds of symptoms those who’ve been diagnosed with the disease are experiencing. Enya.ai, an Ulu portfolio startup, whose mission is to ensure secure delivery of encrypted health content to customers, is now focusing on this new tracking app and created FeverIQ.com. Ulupreneur Jan Liphardt says the information is being analyzed at Stanford and other universities.  Enya.ai uses privacy-preserving analytics to make sure that all the answers stay private and never leave your phone.

Turning garage hobbyists into pandemic-fighting heroes.

While many folks might think 3D printer hobbyists are people who spend too much time in their garage, those very same hobbyists may be able to help plug a hole in the medical equipment gap for healthcare during the pandemic.

One Chinese manufacturer of entry 3D machines says sales have more than tripled globally since mid February. Many of those buying the units have said they are dedicating them to printing PPE for healthcare workers and first responders. According to industry experts, there are 870 thousand printers in the US and if just one third of those printers make one PPE item per day that would add up to almost 2m PPE items per week.

Brave Heart Fund Will Help Families of Health Care Workers

New York Life and Cigna have launched a fund that will provide financial and emotional support to the families of healthcare workers and volunteers nationwide – including doctors, nurses, technicians, orderlies, cafeteria workers, custodians, and others – who lose their lives to COVID-19. Each company seeded $25M to the fund and hope to raise an additional $50M, for a total of at least $100M. The Fund, called Brave Heart will be administered through E4ERelief, a subsidiary of the public charity Foundation For The Carolinas

Having trouble finding fresh produce on the shelves?

Even in places like northern California where fresh produce is usually plentiful in stores, in this pandemic it’s sometimes tough to find. Now you can find out where to buy food direct at wholesale prices from farmers in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Balancing work and elder care through the pandemic

Working from home while trying to care for elderly parents can be challenging and quite stressful, for both sides. Here are some tips for balancing work and elder care, and one of the tips is: know that no matter how hard you try, it may be imperfect and that’s okay. 

Don’t worry, be happy….for free

It’s hard to think about being happy when there are so many things to worry about, but according to Laurie Santos, a Yale psychology professor, happiness comes from “the simple things”. She offered a course a few years ago on campus and it became the most popular course in the university’s 300-year history. She says although in-person social connections matter, the good news from science is that much of happiness stems from cultivating healthy practices and routines. You can audit the course for free on Coursera

Neuroscience methods to reduce stress

It’s not easy for many of us to adjust at working from home indefinitely. There’s an uncertainty to so many aspects of work and life that mental health experts say the pandemic has spawned a mental health crisis that business leaders need to address. Dr. David Rock founder and CEO of NeuroLeadership Institute, a science-based leadership development company, has studied the way our brains react to trauma, and his team is working with several businesses to develop strategies that support employees. He shared insights on how leaders can use neuroscience-backed strategies to handle stress for themselves and employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

And finally….love knows no borders

She drives from the Danish side, in her Toyota Yaris. He cycles from the German side, on his electric bike. She brings the coffee and the table, he, the chairs and the schnapps. Then they sit down on either side of the border, a yard or two apart. And that is how two octogenarian lovers have kept their romance alive despite the closure of the border that falls between his home in the very north of Germany and hers in the very south of Denmark. Every day since the police shut the border to contain the virus, Karsten Tüchsen Hansen, an 89-year-old retired farmer, and Inga Rasmussen, an 85-year-old former caterer, have met at the Mollehusvej border crossing to chat, joke and drink, while maintaining a modicum of social distance.


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