How The Upside Foundation and our Member companies are responding to COVID-19
The Upside Foundation is a registered charity that enables the Canadian tech community to give back. Typically, we do this by enabling founders of early-stage, high-growth Canadian companies to build social responsibility into their business by pledging equity to the charity of their choice. Now, in the face of COVID-19, The Upside Foundation is helping those companies to think about how they can give back, and is spearheading the Home Front initiative.
The 'home front' refers to the efforts of civilians when their nation is at war. The Home Front is a volunteer organization acting as a central hub to help frontline healthcare workers get the support they need during COVID-19. We want to keep our heroes safe and help you to act as heroes as well!
Through our network of over 100 volunteers we are working towards 3 goals:
1) Activate personal and corporate donations to purchase PPE, supplies, and support charities that are responding on the front lines,
2) Encourage and facilitate in-kind donations of the PPE, supplies and services that hospitals need, and
3) Connect those who want to help with the resources, tools, connections and knowledge they need to understand where they can make a difference and take meaningful action.
Special thanks to the following Upside Members who have generously pledged to donate a portion of their revenue to The Home Front during COVID-19.
The Upside Foundation is dedicated to supporting Member companies during this difficult time. We've curated a Resources & Tools to Manage Your Business Through COVID-19 document with resources for operating a remote business, as well as this Financial Support for Founders during COVID19 document with continuously updated information on the various financial support programs available at this time.
We've also created a document on How The Canadian Tech Community Can Give Back During COVID-19, and a Directory of Startups Responding to COVID-19, which has been shared with media representatives as they reach out to us.
We are so proud of the following Upside Members for directly tackling COVID-19 in a number of ways.
Inkbox is doing everything they can to contribute to the fight against COVID-19. Led by CEO Tyler Handley, the team has begun developing Health Canada-approved face shields and donating them to local healthcare workers. They've also donated 100,000 nitrile gloves to Sick Kids Hospital, and will be contributing 100,000 sanitization kits (including items such as gloves and alcohol wipes from the company's Freehand Ink Pro Kits) to homeless shelters, food banks, and local service workers. Last but not least, Inkbox's R&D teams are also working on a formulation for hand sanitizer, which will be both donated to vulnerable communities and offered for sale to the public. See this blog post for more information on Inkbox's response to COVID-19.
Staffy typically serves as an online marketplace enabling business owners to access an on-demand workforce. In the face of COVID-19, founder Peter Faist has pivoted the company to direct workers towards roles in essential services. This has enabled critical shifts to be filled in hospitals, grocers, correctional facilities, and long term care homes, for example as cleaning and serving staff. See here for Peter's recent interview with Amber Mac.
Sergey Kalnish, founder of SmartHire.io, has started an initiative called Unicorn Care. Sergey purchased $10,000 worth of non-perishable food, household, medical and recreational items from local retailers, and mobilized a team of volunteers to sort, package and distribute the care packages to those in need.
Envoi has joined an initiative called ComeTogetherTO, which aims to send 2000 sewing kits to individuals in Toronto who will then produce non-medical grade masks for essential workers on the front lines of COVID-19. Envoi will be offering free no-contact pickup of the completed masks that will be donated to delivery drivers. See here for a Betakit article about this project.
David Lloyd, founder of Postbeyond, has joined a team of entrepreneurs to build the "ScubaVS" ventilator. This ventilator marries SCUBA regulators and a CPAP mask for a product that does not require patient intubation, uses no power and also filters patient exhalations. This innovation aims to impact the way healthcare providers help COVID-19 patients breathe in the hospital, at home and remotely, while keeping their caregivers safe.
YourTable has always promoted the benefits of shared meals for promoting mental wellness. Now, the team is drawing on the healing powers of food once again by providing 50 free meals, once a week, for one month, to healthcare workers at three Toronto hospitals: St. Michael's, Toronto Western and Sunnybrook. Food donations are provided kindly by Tim Hortons, and delivery is done by YourTable.