Forbes

THE NEXT 1000 PANDEMIC PIVOTS

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These five standouts from the Next 1000, our new listing of entreprene­urs from across America with less than $10 million in revenue or funding but infinite hustle, are making quick adjustment­s and creative plans to position their businesses for post-pandemic success. NORTHEAST Christine Marcus • 50 Alchemista • Boston

When Covid closed offices, corporate caterer Marcus lost all her clients but one: vaccine maker Moderna. To reach new customers, the MIT grad developed temperatur­e-controlled food lockers that sell Alchemista’s salads and sandwiches in socially distanced settings. She rents high-tech vending machines, which are stocked daily, to landlords and building managers for up to $5,000 a month. Sales are on track to hit $8 million in 2021.

SOUTHWEST Dennis Cail • 50 Zirtue • Dallas

This entreprene­ur is breaking the rule that friends and money don’t mix. In 2018, the Navy vet created Zirtue to let you borrow cash from your personal network. His software handles the terms, rates, loans and repayments. Business doubled during the pandemic, with Zirtue brokering $10 million in friend-to-friend loans. Google, Morgan Stanley and Northweste­rn Mutual recently invested

$2.5 million in Cail’s startup.

WEST Nathalie Walton • 36 Expectful • San Francisco

Pregnancy rates plummeted during the pandemic, but stress on young moms soared. So Walton is transformi­ng her pregnancy-meditation app, Expectful, into a wellness company for new and aspiring mothers. Walton, an alum of Google and Airbnb, offers guides on stress and parenting, plus virtual support groups and remote yoga classes. Subscripti­on revenue could top $2 million in 2021. In January, she raised a $4 million–plus seed round from investors including Harlem Capital and the Sequoia Scout Fund.

MIDWEST Ryan Meitl • 35 Rivet Work • Detroit

Meitl is taking collaborat­ion software from the cubicle to the constructi­on site. His software startup, Rivet Work, connects offices to far-flung job sites, digitally organizing workers, supplies and schedules. The added efficiency helped builders cope with the pandemic’s housing boom. Launched in 2020, the early-stage startup has partnered with local constructi­on companies in Michigan and recently raised $600,000 to expand elsewhere.

SOUTHEAST Jason D. Rose • 33 Skyler • Orlando

Proving that technology enables you to start a global company from anywhere, Rose built his

Hong Kong mattress brand from the comfort of his Orlando home. He launched Skyler in 2017, using Shopify to sell a bed-in-a-box customized for the Hong Kong market—a firmer mattress with a cooling gel for the city’s steamy summers. After the 2019 anti-government protests and the pandemic pushed down storefront rents, Rose is finally opening a physical Skyler shop and staffing it with unemployed salespeopl­e. But he still lives and works in Florida.

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