The global spread of COVID-19 has had a serious impact on numerous world industries and sectors. Businesses have been forced to shut down, major layoffs took place and consumer markets witnessed shocking trends that weren’t seen in decades. This had left many businesses in search of COVID-19 business relief packages, grants and funding. We’ll detail some of the best opportunities available to help keep your business afloat during the pandemic – from free tools, to COVID-19 business relief grants.
Having said that, not all have been on the negative side though. While a lot of business sectors are doing their best to barely survive, on the other hand, the mobile app industry did give us numerous signs of hope and positive business practices during this whole pandemic situation.
In this article/
- COVID-19 business relief funding and other offers available
- App success stories during COVID-19
- Good news stories during the pandemic
- Top 30 breakout apps during the pandemic
The App Industry Provides COVID-19 Business Relief
Numerous businesses, government organisations and the collective app industry are offering forms of COVID-19 business relief, free offers and upgrades to help businesses succeed. Let’s take a look at some of the best COVID-19 business relief funding and free opportunities available.
Microsoft to Keep Paying Regardless of Working Hours
Taking into consideration the amount of financial burden people are going through due to layoffs and pay cuts, Microsoft, on the contrary, recently announced that it will keep paying its hourly workers their regular pay regardless of their service hours being reduced or not.
App Samurai $250,000 COVID19 Resilience Grant
App Samurai, an integrated platform that provides mobile app performance services, recently announced a $250,000 COVID-19 Resilience Grant for business startups in order to support the community and help them establish their businesses amidst the ongoing economic uncertainty.
Under this COVID-19 business relief package, startups will be granted up to $10,000 via App Samurai ad credit that will directly go towards their campaigns.
Zoom Eliminates Time Limit for K-12 Schools
Zoom, the video conferencing platform, recently announced the removal of its 40-minute time limit on basic accounts for k-12 (kindergarten to 12th grade) schools, in order to support the educational sector during the pandemic. Schools can benefit from this program by simply filling out an online verification form.
Slack Offers Free Upgrades to Paid Plans
In order to assist individuals, teams and organizations who have been working tirelessly on the COVID-19 research, Slack offered them with free upgrades on their paid plans and packages. Interested teams or organizations can provide a specific address to get this up and running via remote collaboration.
Google Offers Free Premium Video Chat
Until July, Google announced that it would provide a free premium version of its video chat tool, Hangouts Meet, in order to assist schools, pandemic research institutions and businesses that are working from remote locations during these times. Through this free version, they can have 250 participants per call, live stream for up to 100,000 viewers within a specific domain and can also record meetings and upload them to Google Drive.
Also, Google set up a COVID-19 fund that allows its temporary staff and vendors around the world to take paid sick leaves if they are going through potential symptoms of the virus or if they cannot show up at work due to the quarantine.
Facebook Offers Free Version of Workplace Advanced
Facebook has offered a free premium version of its Workplace Advanced platform – a tool that enables users to avail services such as video calling and file sharing. The free version will be available to emergency organizations and governments for a period of 12 months.
Zoho – Free Suite of Remote Apps
Until July 1, Zoho announced a free suite of remote apps. These are 11 apps in total, mostly for online sessions, training programs, data storage, project management tools and daily work tools such as word processing, presentations and spreadsheets. This is certainly a welcome COVID-19 relief offer.
DropBox Offers 3-Month Free Subscription
Dropbox, one of the commonly used online workspaces these days, offered free Dropbox Business and HelloSign Enterprise subscriptions for a period of three months to NGOs and non-profit organizations that are helping to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Successful Apps amid Challenging Times
The outbreak of COVID-19 worldwide has undoubtedly dented a number of small and large businesses – however, not all have seen a downward trend the past couple of months. There have been some amazing success stories as well.
Zoom Revenues Increase by 169% in Q1 2020
Due to the new norms of social distancing that the world has adapted to in recent times, audio and video communication platforms have seen a massive boom – Zoom being one of them.
The company witnessed a revenue of $328.2 million during the first quarter 2020 – a 169% increase as compared to the last quarter. In light of this, the adjusted forecast for the company for this year is now $1.8 billion, which was previously set as $915 million.
Twitch Downloads Double During Lockdowns
The famous game streaming app, Twitch, recorded a massive increase in its app downloads – more than double, during the lockdowns in the US.
According to a report, the number of downloads increased from 20,000 per day to around 60,000 in the month of March. As a result of this, the revenues also jumped from $70,000 per day to as high as $400,000 during one of the peak days in May.
Grocery Apps are on the Rise
Quite understandably, when you are instructed not to go outside, you will eventually have food supplies delivered at your home. Since the past couple of months, the grocery app sector has witnessed a massive boom throughout the world. In the month of February of this year, the grocery delivery apps in the US saw an increase of orders by 250%.
Apps such as Walmart Grocery, Instacart, Amazon Prime and Shipt are some of the grocery apps that have catered to this recent upward trend in this industry.
Stories and News that Made a Difference
Human history has shown us that whenever mankind is hit with a major catastrophe, there always have been numerous acts of kindness and generosity – with the primary goal of showing support and solidarity with one another.
In times where numerous businesses are looking for a little COVID-19 business relief, we have been offered a different kind of relief, in the form of positive stories.
Shea Serrano’s Tweet Generates $100,000 in Direct Donations
On March 12, Shea Serrano, a Texas-based author, was lying on his couch watching television – thinking about the layoffs, income cuts and financial burdens that the people were going through due to the virus outbreak. He felt he had a responsibility to do something, so he used his Twitter account that has a following of 345,000 and sent out a tweet.
His tweet asked people to reply with a copy of a bill that they were unsure whether or not they would be able to pay along with their Venmo details. His tweet was retweeted 10,000 times. Moreover, countless other stories related to illnesses, mental health support and financial burdens were part of this Twitter feed. Followers even started to send money directly to strangers via digital wallets.
Apple & Facebook Donate Millions of Masks to Health Workers
Apple’s CEO Tim Cook recently announced that the company will be donating 30 million face masks to frontline healthcare workers and professionals in the US and Europe.
Mark Zuckerberg also announced that Facebook will be donating around 720,000 masks that the company had bought recently during the wildfires. He also mentioned that the company was working to source more masks for health workers.
Uber Donates Meals to First Responders
After their recent contribution of providing free ride service to doctors and first responders, Uber recently announced another donation. This time they decided to donate 300,000 meals via Uber Eats to first responders and healthcare workers. Ubereats also added that they would waive delivery fees for more than 100,000 independent restaurants to support local and small businesses.
Top 30 Breakout Apps During Pandemic
2020 has undoubtedly been one of the most challenging and difficult years the world has ever seen. As far as the mobile app industry is concerned, a lot of apps struggled to survive, while some of them were quite successful. Here is our list of top 30 apps that have gained popularity since the start of 2020:
- Zoom (video conferencing) – Since the lockdowns, Zoom has reportedly increased its worldwide daily meeting participants by 100 million within a month (Mar-Apr).
- Houseparty (video conferencing) – this is one of the successful apps in recent times that has witnessed massive surge during the lockdowns. The company recently reported 50 million new sign-ups and around 17.2 million new installs across iOS and Android platforms.
- Calm (mental wellness) – Since the spread of Covid-19, a lot of people have relied on mobile apps that help with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. Calm has dominated this category with 3.9 million downloads in April.
- Headspace (mental wellness) – A meditation app that offers structured courses to its users. In recent times, mental wellness apps have seen a massive surge, Headspace is one of them with over 1.5 million downloads in the month of April.
- Slack (workspace communication) – one of the renowned workspace communication tools, Slack witnessed an enormous jump as more and more users are now working from home and need a way to communicate with their colleagues.
- Microsoft Teams (workspace communication) – this is another workspace communication tool that has seen an enormous increase in its usage. In November 2019, 20 million people were using Microsoft Teams per day, in March, this number went up to 75 million per day.
- Shipt (grocery delivery) – Grocery apps have been on the boom since the pandemic struck the world. One of those is Shipt – this app saw a 124% increase in app downloads in the past couple of months.
- Target (grocery delivery) – this is another grocery delivery app that saw a 98% spike in average daily downloads.
- DoClocker (health) – the global digital health industry is one of the most active industries in the world at present. A number of health apps have surfaced in the past couple of months – DoClocker being one of them. This gives real-time reporting on waiting times for patients who are in need of medical assistance. This app has curbed the spread of the virus since patients do not have to be physically present to wait in long queues.
- Patient Access (health) – this app connects patients with doctors via online video consultations. During such times, apps like these do play a vital role in the broader context.
- Orbita Covid-19 Virtual Assistant (health bot) – there have been a number of COVID-19 related apps in the past few months. Orbita is one of those and it gives access to data and queries related to the virus.
- Insight Timer (mental wellness) – with over 10,000 free guided meditations, this app offers its users to modify meditations as per their preferences – from ambient sounds to the sounds of ringing bells. Also, it offers over 3,000 discussion groups, these groups are considered to be one of the ways to cope up with anxiety and depression during such difficult times.
- Talkspace (mental wellness) – for only $49 per week, this app allows its users to virtually connect with a therapist. Users can communicate with the therapist via text, audio or video chat multiple times in a day.
- Fishbrain (fishing) – this is an app that tells about good fishing spots for anglers. The company reported a user 23% increase in the month of April with over 10 million users due to lockdown.
- Don’t Touch Your Face (COVID-19 specific) – since the pandemic started, we have seen a number of coronavirus-related apps being made, this is one of them. This app works using a machine-learning algorithm that detects users when they touch their face and when they don’t. Based on that data, it tells you how many times you touched your face during a specific time span.
- Covid-19 Tracker (COVID-19 specific) – this is another coronavirus-related app that shows the user a map with three color labels. If the user tests positive, the app sends a notification to the people that the user came in contact with recently, and vice versa, and subsequently changes the color on the map to keep everyone informed.
- Youper (mental wellness) – due to the ongoing pandemic situation, a lot of people are reported to have increased anxiety and depression related issues. With the help of AI, this app assists users to better manage their food, sleep, reduce anxiety, etc.
- Instacart (grocery delivery) – In the first two weeks of April, Instacart delivered more than $700 million worth of groceries, a 450% increase in sales from December last year.
- Meditopia (mental wellness) – One of the top performing mental health apps during the pandemic, Meditopia had 1.4 million downloads during the month of April.
- Master Your Destiny (mental wellness) – this is another app that focuses on mental health issues, mainly depression and anxiety during the worldwide lockdowns.
- Duolingo (learning) – Can’t be a better time to learn a new language than this. This app is designed like a game and makes learning a new language fun for its users. Users can choose from 35 different languages.
- Yoga Studio (fitness) – For those who were a regular at their yoga classes pre-pandemic, they can download this app and get access to 25 hours of high definition video classes by expert yoga instructors.
- Audible (storytelling) – if someone is in a mood to hear a good story narrated by authors, artists, actors or other public figures, Audible is a pretty good option.
- Action Blocks (assistance/accessibility) – one of the breakout apps of May 2020, Action Blocks is a Google app that allows a user to create routines with Google assistant and save those routines on the user’s home screen as an icon. Mainly useful for the elderly, disabled people or with age-related conditions.
- Scrabble GO (gaming) – can’t be a better time to play a word-game than a global pandemic, this app lets you do that. In recent times, Scrabble GO has witnessed a huge spike in terms of app installs.
- Venmo (digital payment) – Owned by PayPal, this is a mobile payment app that allows only US citizens to send or receive funds. During the pandemic, digital wallet and payment apps have seen massive jumps due to increased online buying and selling trends.
- Zelle (digital payment) – Founded in 2017, Zelle is another US-based digital payments service and this app also saw some increased numbers in terms of app installs and usage since the pandemic began.
- Ludo King (gaming) – With over 36 million downloads between March and April, Ludo King remains one of the top mobile app games during COVID-19 outbreak.
- MasterClass (learning) – a unique learning app that offers lessons from experts in their respective fields of work, majority of them being mainstream celebrities. Although on the expensive side, if someone is seriously pursuing a career and does not want to delay learning during the pandemic, this is a good way to learn while staying at home.
- Fitocracy (body fitness) – physical fitness is as important as mental well-being. To help users achieve their goals, this app gamifies the workouts by rewarding them with badges, points and special achievements.
COVID-19 Business Relief & Positive & Success Stories – Final Thoughts
In this article we detail how you can take up many of the grants, free upgrades and covid-19 relief funds available, in order to keep your business afloat. Such examples are the Covid19 Resilience Grant, the Slack free upgrades and Facebook’s newly launched Workplace Advanced. Take some time to consider the above offers, tips and cases-studies to help your app-based business survive during this uncertain time. Additionally, the app industry is in a unique position to not only thrive during the pandemic, but also help the community tremendously with their remote, connectivity and ease-of use capabilities. We have seen many apps take this opportunity such as Zoom, Duolingo, Slack and Zoho. This trend of giving doesn’t seem to be slowing down either.
Is there any other opportunity, COVID-19 business relief funding, or any other kind of COVID-19 relief you’d like to let our readers know about? Write about it below in the comments.
About the Author: Lomit Patel is the Vice President of Growth at IMVU. Prior to IMVU, Lomit managed growth at early-stage startups including Roku (IPO), TrustedID (acquired by Equifax), Texture (acquired. by Apple) and EarthLink. Lomit is a public speaker, author, advisor, and recognized as a Mobile Hero by Liftoff. Lomit’s new bestselling book Lean AI, is part of Eric Ries’ “The Lean Startup” series, now available at Amazon.