4 Creative Pandemic Business Pivots to Learn From

By the SMU Social Media Team

A pandemic is as good a time as any for learning more about The Pivot—an entrepreneurship concept popularised by author Eric Ries about a decade ago. In fact, it might even be the opportune time to make a shift.

Typically defined as a course correction in response to changes in the marketplace, pivoting helps businesses to achieve their original goals using different processes and strategies. While it only became a trending term in recent years, pivoting actually has much deeper roots. Long before YouTube pivoted from video-dating to video-sharing, Marriott had transitioned from its humble beginnings as a root beer stand into a hospitality behemoth in 1927.

In other words, rare is the business that doesn’t need to pivot. And that’s a skill that is certainly highly applicable in the current Covid-19 world, in which many businesses are struggling to adapt to public health constraints and new consumer behaviour.

How should companies pivot during these trying times? Here are four examples of businesses that have been nimble enough to switch their trajectories.



In a world where dating apps featuring first interactions centred on swiping your screen have become the norm, dating agency GaiGai was already a pivot—it focused on offline matchmaking, including private consultations with relationship managers, coaching services to help clients make great first impressions, and, naturally, in-real-life events for singles to mingle.

With Covid-19 making such events infeasible, the company had to postpone or cancel all of its mass matchmaking events, including a Valentine’s weekend cruise in February. In response, GaiGai started offering online dates, and also moved its video profiling and coaching services online. It also has a team of trained moderators who can act as buffers between clients meeting for the first time in a video call.

Luckily, it has been able to tap on a strong synergy with its parent company Paktor, which runs the Paktor dating app that has seen a spike in installation and engagement rates this year as more people are forced online. Paktor has been able to serve as the online meeting ground for GaiGai’s clients.


The ilLido Group

Food delivery apps saw a growth in business during Covid-19 lockdowns as more people—especially those who didn’t want to cook—tried to satisfy their food cravings by ordering takeout from their favourite food haunts.

While it is one thing to get a simple meal of fast food or hawker food delivered to your doorstep, it’s quite another matter entirely to order from a fine dining restaurant and expect the delicate food to survive the trip with all its finesse and nuances intact.

Another obstacle for such establishments: a considerable part of their appeal (and justification for their higher prices) is their carefully created atmosphere, where tasteful lighting, luxurious furnishings and attentive service all contribute to the experience of a great night out.

To engineer his pivot during this challenging time for the food and beverage industry, chef-restauranteur Beppe De Vito launched Grammi, a cloud dining concept. Like the rest of the establishments in his ilLido Group, the new business draws on De Vito’s cultural heritage and culinary training with its Italian-Mediterranean menu featuring seasonal ingredients.

At the same time, it marks a savvy departure from the group’s fine-dining niche. Grammi’s delivery menu includes bento-style options for those seeking convenience, much more affordable prices, and dishes that are designed to hold up well in transit. For those who want to cook, it also offers gourmet pantry items such as house-made sauces and cured meats.


Pure Yoga

Fitness studios have been another hard-hit sector during the pandemic, with some chains resorting to holding outdoor classes in their bid to stay afloat while obeying social distancing measures.

For companies that have been able to tap on digital platforms, however, the past year has been a time of opportunity. For example, Pure Yoga rolled out its Purecast platform, which offers both livestreamed and on-demand classes. That means practitioners can now attend classes taught by Pure instructors in Hong Kong and Singapore, or make use of the platform’s 72-hour replay feature if they miss a class or simply want to replay a session they enjoyed. The company is also offering private yoga sessions online, for those who want more personalised attention.



With fewer people travelling during the pandemic, the hospitality sector has definitely been struggling. But property platform Cloudbeds, which makes management software for hotels, bed and breakfasts, and hostels, found a way for its services to be put to great use during this crisis.

As rising numbers of Covid-19 patients stretched the occupancy limits of hospitals worldwide, this American company built an online tool called Hospitality Helps to connect the owners and operators of hotels with government and health care agencies in need.

It was a case of plentiful supply meeting rising demand. “With each passing hour, we face an ever more acute shortage of available beds for the sick, and for health professionals who are fighting coronavirus,” said Cloudbeds CEO Adam Harris. “At the same time, we are seeing many lodging providers reducing occupancy or sitting empty altogether.”

Besides allowing hotels to electronically volunteer their rooms for government or hospital use, the company has also set up a team to field requests from government agencies and healthcare providers looking for hotels to support their overflow needs.