The LaunchX Entrepreneurial Community Responds to COVID-19
May 16, 2020
All around the world people are coming together to help one another and provide new services during the COVID-19 pandemic, and our former LaunchX students are no exception. We continue to be amazed by the entrepreneurial ideas these students come up with, and wanted to share a few of their startups and ventures that have really impressed us.
Makers for COVID-19
LaunchX Alum Karina Popovich, a freshman at Cornell University, founded Makers for COVID-19, a global community of makers donating their time and materials to make medical grade PPE for hospitals. She started researching and printing masks soon after being sent home from campus with her 3D printers, and since founding Makers for COVID-19 has grown production capacity to 20,000 units per week with the support of other makers. The organization has members in 25 US states and 6 countries, and has now served 33+ hospitals.
Karina was recently interviewed by Etre Girls about founding Makers for COVID-19, and her background in 3D printing. Check out the interview to see what she had to say.
Visit the Makers for COVID-19 website to learn more and see examples of the PPE they have produced for hospitals.
Suhail CS and Pranav Shikarpur, both members of our LaunchX 2019 summer cohort, recently launched api.covid.sh to power COVID-19 research projects by providing real-time data at the country level. They monitor and collect data from official government sources every 15 minutes via automated bots.
2019 LaunchX alum and technical founder Aaliyah Sayed created 19CovAid, a coronavirus mutual aid platform. 19CovAid allows volunteers and recipients of support find each other and stay in touch via private messaging on the site. She realized there were many people needing help and many people who want to help, but there was no way for these two parties to find each other. Since launch, the site has grown to over 100 users across several states. Users can provide their location to find opportunities in their area, or they may offer their services online if applicable. Recently, 19CovAid has been partnering with local mutual aid groups and non-profits to give them a platform to manage volunteer requests.
Volunteers are offering services ranging from dog walking to supplying free homemade masks and face shields to subject-specific tutoring and grocery delivery. See requests here, and sign up to offer assistance or make a request of your own. You can also check out their Facebook page and follow them on Instagram
Dhwani Sreenivas, another 2019 alumnus, created fEmpower with a group of friends earlier this year. They offer a 6-day introductory coding curriculum that is simple, web-based, and self-guided by students. The curriculum is primarily geared towards for 3-5th grade girls. Before the coronoavirus pandemic shut down classrooms across the country, fEmpower was piloted at a local elementary school in Dhwani’s community and where she received a ton of positive feedback.
With learning transitioning online this spring, fEmpower has now released their curriculum to the public with an online curriculum that is available to anyone who is interested. This is a helpful resource for elementary students to learn coding basics while at home this spring or summer. They also supply additional coding resources on the fEmpower website where you can check out and sign up for the course.
3D Printing Ear-Savers
Nav Malhotra, another 3D printing enthusiast from last year’s program decided to start making ‘ear-savers. Ear-savers are plastic headbands that allow people to wear masks without using the ear elastics. Inspired by a design he saw online, he decided to put his own 3D printer to work. He’s now one of a group of nearly 300 local makers printing innovative solutions to support fighting the pandemic, and was even asked by Alibaba Singapore to send ear savers to distribute with their packages.
Though initially made for front-line workers in hospitals, Nav says he identified a different market for his ear-savers with the help of skills he learned at LaunchX. He decided spread the word about using ear-savers within religious communities whose members can not easily wear face masks around the ears due to their headwear, and he has now provided hundreds of ear savers to those communities.