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Startups podcast: 4 startups on how they're solving for a post-pandemic world

As we look to a future full of new challenges, startup leaders reflect on how we can make life better in the post-pandemic world.

By Sarah Olson, Senior Associate, Content Marketing, @seolson5

Last updated April 22, 2024

As we look ahead to the new year, it’s clear that we need to challenge, disrupt, and transform the world as we once knew it. And who better to talk to about disruption than startups?

Read on to learn about startups working to make the post-pandemic world a better place.

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  1. Lessonly: Improving work life

    As 2020 has proven, the only constant is change. At work, that means teams are constantly tasked with learning new information and skills on the job.

    Lessonly is a learning management platform that streamlines this type of workplace training.

    “What we do at work transcends the workplace. If it’s a good day, we take it home with us. If it’s not such a good day, we take it home with us.”

    For example, a customer service team may need to learn the details of a new pricing promotion. With Lessonly, leaders can share this information with their teams as a lesson, and employees can complete the lesson and then practice it.

    Lessonly customers report that having good training helps employees feel more confident, a feeling that fuels them both on the job and outside the office, according to Max Yoder, Lessonly Founder and CEO.

    “What we do at work transcends the workplace,” says Yoder. “If it’s a good day, we take it home with us. If it’s not such a good day, we take it home with us.”

    As we anticipate many new challenges to come, improving our work lives is a small but powerful step we can take.

  2. Mindler: Reducing barriers to mental health care

    Mental health has been top of mind for many this year, but even before 2020, Mindler had the idea to improve mental health care access with virtual appointments.

    Mindler CEO Magnus Peterson says they wanted to eliminate some of the roadblocks people face when seeking mental health treatment, including distance, doctor availability, and waiting lists.

    “We promise that you can book an appointment within 24 hours.”

    Mindler removes those barriers by connecting patients to more than 150 licensed psychologists who can be scheduled for virtual appointments.

    “We promise that you can book an appointment within 24 hours,” says Peterson. “And so far we’ve managed to keep that, which is great.”

    Mental health will be critically important in 2021 and beyond, and Mindler has demonstrated that some of the barriers we once tolerated are no longer necessary—it’s possible to get the same great care from anywhere.

    “We believe that you can get the same treatment face to face versus digitally,” says Peterson.

  3. Zenni Optical: Keeping customers in focus

    Zenni Optical, a startup that sells affordable prescription eyewear entirely online, is one of the few businesses that was able to drive an increase in sales during this incredibly difficult year.

    Bai Gan, Chief Product Officer at Zenni, credit’s the company’s success to a rigorous customer focus that was built into the company’s foundation from the beginning.

    “Our mission is actually not just to maximize our profit. We’re trying to share the most benefits with our customers.”

    To keep the cost of eyewear down, Zenni invested heavily in their own manufacturing infrastructure instead of relying on suppliers. The decision has allowed them to produce at scale and sell quality eyewear at a fraction of the price of some of the most popular retailers.

    “Our mission is actually not just to maximize our profit,” says Gan. “We’re trying to share the most benefits with our customers.”

    And it’s not only competitive prices that make Zenni a desirable choice for customers looking to invest in, say, blue light blocking glasses.

    With their video-based virtual try-on experience to their “treasure trove” of customer data that allows them to make helpful recommendations, Zenni is removing the friction from online shopping—and that will be incredibly valuable in the coming year.

  4. CodeSignal: Taking bias out of hiring

    CodeSignal is a technical skills assessment tool that helps reduce bias in the hiring process for technical roles, such as engineering.

    The way it works is that candidates complete skills assessments, and if they pass the assessment, they move onto the next stage of the hiring process and complete further assessments. This process allows companies to identify candidates based on job skills rather than education background or past experience.

    “So much of the systematic racism in the system lives in what is a traditional hiring process.”

    Sophia Biak, Co-Founder of CodeSignal, explains that sometimes qualified candidates are weeded early in the hiring process because they don’t meet certain criteria on paper, which creates a disadvantage.

    “So much of the systematic racism in the system lives in what is a traditional hiring process,” says Baik.

    Further, with the transition to remote work, more companies are hiring for remote positions. This opens the pool of potential candidates to “anyone in the world,” according to Baik.

    CodeSignal is working to improve the remote hiring experience as well. They’ve added tools such as a collaborative code editing experience and a virtual whiteboarding tool that replicates important aspects of the in-person interview process.

Thriving through uncertainty

So much remains unknown, and that can be scary, especially for startups. There are no easy answers, only messy middles. But we’re in this together, and the Zendesk for Startups team wants to help you be as successful as possible.

We have a few helpful resources for startups:

  • Zendesk for Startups — Eligible startups can get six months of Zendesk sales and support software for free.
  • Startup Central Slack Community — Join a community of 700+ startup founders and CX leaders where we have meaningful conversations specific to startups.
  • Sit Down Startup podcast — Tune in for Season 2 of the podcast, where we’ll hear more inspiring stories from real startups creating change in the world.

Subscribe to Sit Down Startup via Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.

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