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The COVID-Inspired Spike in Entrepreneurialism

Thought Leadership

Zoom was a company that didn’t exist before 2011. Thanks to the pandemic, it’s a household name for most businesses in 2021. 

I recently Googled Zoom to learn how many employees they have (and by the way, Google didn’t exist 23 years ago), and the company that started with only 40 engineers now employs 2,532 people (and if you’re interested, Google now has 135,000 employees).

Zoom’s radical growth in response to a pandemic is an everyday example of the innovation that’s happening in America today. So is America’s ability to develop three coronavirus vaccines in less than a year.

This spike in entrepreneurialism will be very good for America over the next 5-10 years. We are still in the midst of a pandemic that has had a real impact on our health and safety. If you can push the devastation aside for a moment, it has opened doors for opportunity and rebirth. In the midst of business closings and skyrocketing unemployment, new businesses are starting, jobs are being created and new ways of engaging with customers are slowly becoming the norm. 

This is a tip your hat moment to our country’s roots around entrepreneurialism and capitalism.

It’s too early for actual numbers, but when you listen to the news or read the paper, you can see the all the exciting ways that businesses have innovated. 

Here are just a few examples:


In the uncertainty and lack of facts about the coronavirus, the Cleveland Clinic quickly and aggressively converted traditional doctor visits to telehealth, especially for primary care and home patient visits. 

Remote visits increased from 2% on March 7 to 75% by April 11. The Cleveland Clinic also utilized the MyChart platform to monitor patients at home and conduct general follow-up.

Updox, which sold to EverCommerce in late December 2020, now supports over 15,000 telehealth visits every day, and serves more than 560,000 users and 210 million patients.


As stated above, Zoom has exploded. They own 38.16% of the video marketplace, and experienced over 300% revenue growth in the fiscal second and third quarters of 2020. Zoom has over 433,700 paying subscribers, or nearly six times more than in 2019.

Smart Cities

As Americans turned to life online, they began working, shopping, getting groceries and even renewing their drivers’ licenses via digitized services. Supply didn’t always keep up with demand—especially in underserved and rural areas where network connectivity was lacking. 


The percentage of Americans who use e-commerce increased from 16% in 2019 to nearly 30% in 2020, which is a larger increase than over the previous 10 years.

During the 2020 holiday season, small retailers saw an average of 110% increase in online sales. Etsy and Shopify helped small businesses set up e-commerce shops, with Etsy reporting a 108% growth in 2020. 

More New Businesses & Side-Hustles 

With traditional careers put on hold because of the pandemic, many would-be entrepreneurs took that opportunity to get their ventures going. In a recent study in Small Biz Trends, 40% of people surveyed said the pandemic gave them the prompt they needed to start their businesses. Applications for new employer identification numbers passed 3.2 million in 2020, compared with 2.7 million in 2019. There was a 38% increase in new business applications in 2020 compared to 2019, and according to Fiverr International, new U.S. freelance registrations rose 48% from July-September 2020.

What This All Means For Us

The silver lining of the pandemic (because we have to look for the positive, even in the most dire situations) is the demonstrated power of innovative entrepreneurship. In the face of adversity and unprecedented uncertainty, entrepreneurs can survive the most challenging circumstances when they have drive, grit and a passion for survival.