Tea bags and M&Ms were created to help feed soldiers in times of war. Scotch tape came to market to aid repairs during the Great Depression. Pilates was invented in the cramped confines of a prisoner of war camp. The 1970s oil crisis brought us the fluorescent bulb.
History shows that "necessity is the mother of all invention" is more than a platitude. Crises incubate and amplify human's innate ingenuity. The current pandemic is no different, and I am not just talking about the doctors and scientists scrambling to find a vaccine.
For working parents stuck at home with kids while schools are closed the ingenuity of a group of entrepreneurs recently profiled in the Washington Post is nearly as amazing and as welcome. This heroic group's innovation? Virtual babysitting.
A lifeline for parents, inspiration for entrepreneurs
"On Care.com, a marketplace for caregivers from nannies to health aids, a handful of workers are updating their profiles to say 'virtual only.' Existing babysitting services are training their child-care workers on techniques to keep kids engaged over screens, and new companies are popping up to offer virtual-only sitters," reports Heather Kelly.
A new service called SitterStream also recently launched, offering parents a half hour of online babysitting for $15 and an hour for $22.
Yes, these "virtual babysitters" are yet another form of screen time for kids, many of whom are spending their days glued to their gadgets. And an adult still must be physically present with the child. But the parents Kelly speaks to see benefits in having a real live human on the other end of the connection giving their kids their undivided attention.The sessions last an hour max, but even that can be a sanity and productivity-saver.
The takeaway for parents here is simply that this lifeline exists. But their are lessons for entrepreneurs too. Humans are incredibly adaptable, and the ways many business owners are finding to shift their services to meet our current reality is inspiring. The media abounds with stories of everything from by-appointment book buying and online co-working to companies pivoting to new markets or developing new offerings on the fly.
If even babysitters can find a way to go virtual, maybe your company can find a creative solution to adapt your business to the post-pandemic world too.