5 NYC Tech Companies on the COVID-19 Front Lines, Part II

Written by Madeline Hester
Published on Apr. 24, 2020
5 NYC Tech Companies on the COVID-19 Front Lines, Part II
Brand Studio Logo

As COVID-19 impacts the global population and economy, there’s an opportunity for companies to show support and offer help to front-line workers and the community.  

Businesses across New York City continue to step up. In part two of a two-part series, read how companies are using their resources to offer supplies and relief to those in need. 

Shapeways’ Long Island factory is staying open to manufacture personal protective equipment. First Due released a free version of their Community Connect platform, which allows people to self-report crucial information that first responders can use during medical emergencies. Betterbank is providing customers cash for medical emergencies, including bills from COVID-19, even as the pandemic slows down fundraising conversations with investors. 

“COVID-19 has proven that we are solving a huge problem and everyday Americans need us. We are determined to forge on,” Kaushik Tiwari, CEO of Betterbank, said.


Greg Kress
CEO • Shapeways

What they doShapeways is a technology platform that provides businesses with advanced additive manufacturing solutions. 


How Shapeways is responding to COVID-19: Shapeways has kept their Long Island City factory open and running for personal protective equipment production. “Our operations in New York City now focus entirely on printing PPE, specifically reusable, industrial-grade face shields. We’re also looking into printing ventilator components, nasal swabs and other applications that would help tackle COVID-19,” Kress said.

“We’ve launched a sponsorship program to help build face shields for hospitals in New York. To date, we've had over 3,000 face shields sponsored by our community. We’re doing our best to spread this to as many people as possible. For every four masks sponsored, Shapeways is donating a fifth mask.”


How Shapeways is overcoming COVID-19 challenges: “Our factory is now 100 percent dedicated to making personal protective equipment, and we’ve shifted all of our regular production to our Eindhoven factory. Many of our supply chain partners have stopped their production, and as we looked for alternative solutions to fulfill orders, this has resulted in longer lead times in delivering products and communicating changes to our customers. These are challenging and frustrating times for everyone, but we’re really proud to see the team come together to solve unexpected problems on a daily basis, and we’re grateful to our customers for their understanding and willingness to work with us during this time.”

Our factory is now 100 percent dedicated to making personal protective equipment.”


How COVID-19 has impacted business plans:  “We’re focused on building strategic products that will enable 3D printing on a much wider scale via our Powered by Shapeways initiatives. As for hiring, we’ve adjusted to conducting interviews virtually and are still focused on finding the right talent to ensure we have the right team in place to face the challenges ahead.”


Frances Cooperman
Chief Marketing Officer • Via

What they do: “Via was established in 2012 in New York City with a simple, yet ambitious mission: to develop and operate efficient and affordable public mobility solutions. Nearly eight years later, their technology now powers global microtransit systems, autonomous vehicles, paratransit fleets and even school buses,” Cooperman said. 

We’re working with partners all over the world to quickly adapt their existing transit infrastructure.” 


How Via is responding to COVID-19: “During this unprecedented time where COVID-19 has dictated how we operate, we’ve quickly adapted our technology and are utilizing our operational expertise to help cities and partners around the world provide innovative transportation solutions for essential workers and for the delivery of goods and services. We’re working with partners all over the world to quickly adapt their existing transit infrastructure to meet the needs of their communities in this critical moment.” 


How Via is overcoming COVID-19 challenges: Via employees are challenged to stay connected as they shift to working remotely. Buddy systems foster cross-functional collaboration and promote knowledge-sharing. 

“We launched Via-Versity, a new initiative that aims to boost personal and professional development. Courses are held throughout the week and taught by employees. And our amazing people ops team checks in weekly with everyone in the entire company. That’s no easy task for a global team of 700.” 


How COVID-19 has impacted business plans: “COVID-19 galvanized our team to adapt our technology to be most helpful at this moment, resulting in an expanded use of our technology and operational expertise. Now we’re not only moving people but also essential goods and services efficiently where they need to go. Individuals can receive grocery and food deliveries, medical supplies and pharmaceuticals.”  


Richard Wendell
Founder and CEO • tellic

What they do: “tellic’s business is data science for life. The tellic team brings together game-changing AI technologies with science to enable biopharma companies and research institutions to develop life-saving and life-improving treatments for patients faster. At the core of tellic’s tools is biomedical data sourced from millions of documents and breakthrough AI that reads them all to surface key information to users,” Wendell said.

Tellic’s business is data science for life.”


How tellic is responding to COVID-19: “Currently, several biopharma and research institutions rely on tellic graph to speed biomedical data searches to find critical connections. They have shared with us that utility for COVID-19 research is clear. One of tellic’s core values is “do the right thing.” When the pandemic hit, there was no question that we would open the technology to researchers working on COVID-19 to support their efforts. We built a platform called graph.C19, and in March 2020 we made free licenses available to researchers.” 


How tellic is overcoming COVID-19 challenges: After shifting to working remotely, virtual daily stand-ups help tellic continue on pace. Cameos from pets and kids are a welcome addition. 

“The team remains focused on building tellic graph. However, there’s an elevated sense of urgency to expedite support for COVID-19 research. In this time of uncertainty, the donation of licenses to the dedicated graph.C19, for instance, has allowed the team to make a difference.”


How COVID-19 has impacted business plans: Hiring needs for tellic’s tech teams, SaaS inbound sales and marketing teams are increasing due to companies engaging and onboarding with the tellic graph at a faster rate. 

“As many biopharma and academic researchers shifted focus to COVID-19 work, they suddenly needed a tool like tellic graph to sift through new information and make data-driven research decisions. However, most researchers do not know about tellic graph, and even more broadly, some are not aware how graph technology can connect the dots and expedite research. This is a new category of product, and awareness is the challenge.”


Kaushik Tiwari
Co-Founder and CEO • betterbank.app

What they do: Betterbank is a no-fee checking account that provides a free safety net for medical emergencies. Betterbank will provide cash. Its software collects interchange fees from merchants that are then funneled into a safety net for medical emergencies.


How Betterbank is responding to COVID-19: “Millions have lost their jobs due to COVID-19, which means they are no longer covered by their employers’ health insurance,” Tiwari said. “This only adds to the 30 million uninsured Americans that didn't have health insurance to begin with. They can now access free emergency insurance just by banking with us. We are also adding protection against pandemics to our safety net. For a small fee, our customers are covered for lost wages in case they are sick and have to miss work due to COVID-19.”


How Betterbank is overcoming COVID-19 challenges: Tiwari said the challenges are bittersweet. “As a small startup with limited resources, we have had to freeze new account signups. We are instead asking people to join our waitlist. To put things in perspective, we already have more than 7,000 people who downloaded our app and are waiting for their Betterbank debit cards. In the meantime, we have been helping them request rent relief, file unemployment and negotiate medical bills.”

We have been helping people request rent relief, file unemployment and negotiate medical bills.”


How COVID-19 has impacted business plans: “Before COVID-19 hit, we were in the middle of fundraising discussions with investors to onboard customers and invest in hiring and growth,” Tiwari said. “Those conversations have slowed down because investors are focused on their existing portfolios. This has obviously delayed our launch plans, but being a bootstrapped startup, we are used to uncertainty. COVID-19 has proven that we are solving a huge problem and everyday Americans need us. We are determined to forge on.”


Andreas Huber
Co-Founder and CEO • First Due

What they do: First Due builds technology to better prepare first responders before, during and after an emergency by equipping firefighters, EMTs, police and emergency managers with detailed information on every building at the time of response. Their Community Connect platform allows the public to log in to a secure portal and provide potentially life-saving information that can be used by first responders during an incident.


How First Due is responding to COVID-19: “To help face the COVID-19 health crisis, First Due partnered with geospatial technology leader Esri and the International Association of Fire Chiefs to build a completely free version of our Community Connect platform, available nationwide for COVID-19 and high-risk health information self-reporting. Since launching, hundreds of agencies from coast to coast have adopted the platform and thousands of everyday people are self-reporting,” Huber said.

We have enabled first responders to better respond to the pandemic quickly.”


How First Due is overcoming COVID-19 challenges: “With our unique position within the public safety industry, we have enabled first responders to better manage and respond to the pandemic quickly and at scale. The biggest challenges come from the increased demand from public safety agencies, resulting in our development, client success, marketing and sales teams working around the clock to ensure the effectiveness of the solution during a rapidly evolving situation.”


How COVID-19 has impacted business plans: “In order to keep up with lead flow, demand for product enhancements and successful customer onboarding, we are looking to hire extensively across sales, marketing, client success and product. Furthermore, being a software company and having built our team from the onset to work remotely, the current crisis has not resulted in a drastic reduction in productivity. We are one hundred percent focused on continuing to grow the team and make an impact on first responders and the communities they serve.”


Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images via listed companies.

Hiring Now
Fintech • Payments • Financial Services