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Rise of the Lockdown Entrepreneurs

The Rise of Furlough-preneurs

Megan Kearns

Marketing Lead

Updated 21 April 22



Throughout history there have been companies borne during times of global and economic uncertainty. Even in the bleakest of times, entrepreneurs have found a way to innovate and creative disruptive products that enhance our daily lives or solve problems. Take the social networking site “Meetup” as an example. In the days and weeks following the 9/11 tragedy, founder Scott Heiferman noticed the desire for community in New York. He created a platform where users could meet like-minded individuals and make plans for face to face gatherings. To this day, Meetup has over 25 million members.


With an estimated 9.6m UK employees currently enrolled in the jobs retention scheme, these difficult times present an opportunity for new creative entrepreneurs to come to the fore. Having already seen a 50% uplift in successful applications to our own startup programme, it is predicted the impending rise in unemployment will prompt even further interest in people wanting to start a startup. 


Rob White, Nova’s Chief People Officer, recently sat down with Business Up North to discuss the seven new employees joining the team following recent growth.


“Thankfully, we’re in a position where we’ve been able to retain all of our staff, and due to the uplift in high quality founder applicants coming through, we can now make new hires. Our founder onboarding team have witnessed a huge amount of new interest in starting a tech startup from people who have recently been furloughed, faced redundancy or job losses. 


It’s been real mixed emotions speaking to these founders, it’s heartbreaking hearing the effects of Covid on the roles and businesses they were working, and yet I am also really proud to be able to offer a route for those people to realise their ambition of now starting their own tech business.” 


Though not without initial challenges and adaptations, we have seen growth from some of our existing portfolio of startups who have flourished throughout the pandemic. 


Following the reopening of bars and restaurants in July, QBunk has been helping venues to create a safer dining experience for their customers by cutting down on staff interaction. Across 6 bars trialing the app in the North West, the business saw 3293 orders through the app in one weekend totalling to £47K in gross merchandising volume.


Hy-genie is another of our startups to see success over lockdown. Working closely with Alder Hey, they have been a key component in the hospital's fight against COVID-19. The Hy-genie team developed a “light” version of their product to be quickly deployed on hospital wards. This helped the hospital to measure their overall hand hygiene compliance and prevent the spread of the virus among patients and staff.


After announcing in January our target of co-founding a further 25 businesses in 2020, the team at Nova are proud to say that we are on track to meet this target - having welcomed 12 new ventures into our portfolio so far this year. 

Read the full feature on Business Up North.



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