When Disaster Strikes, Opportunity Happens

Anyone who ever doubted the value of online education must be humbled to see universities all over the country relying on it exclusively to finish out the academic year as higher education institutions forge ahead in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Companies such as Blackboard that offer platforms for online learning are among those experiencing a sudden boom.

StarterStudio was headed in the direction of creating more online content before the world started hearing murmurs about a mysterious illness spreading in Wuhan, China. But now Central Florida’s only comprehensive, nonprofit education and support system for startup founders is switching those plans into high gear, beginning with its upcoming Seed Accelerator class.

“We had already developed our new Seed Stage accelerator as predominantly virtual,” said StarterStudio Executive Director Lilian Myers, “We just took the last 30 percent of that and are moving it online, too.”

Myers fully expects that some of the startups applying will be offering well-timed solutions in an age of social distancing, a greater-than-ever reliance on in-home entertainment, and heightened concerns about health and safety.  

And Myers believes that just as Groupon, Airbnb and Uber were born out of the 2008 crash, which created the need to economize and spurred the gig economy, now is the time for local startup companies to create new business paradigms to address new pain points. In so doing, those companies could finally bring about the transformation of the region’s economy that government and business leaders have long sought.

“If we are ever going to turn the economy, this is when we’re going to do it,” Myers said. “This is the moment when it’s crucial that we support entrepreneurs who’ve captured the vision of what the future is going to look like and are ready to act on it.”

Myers said that Central Florida’s support of tech startups during this unprecedented health and economic crisis could be the key to transitioning from an economy based on entertainment and consumer spending to one built on other diverse technology areas, including health and life sciences, as well as education, gaming and virtual immersion experiences and other pursuits that people are turning to during the relentless spread of COVID-19.

“When disaster strikes, opportunity happens,” Myers said.


This is the first post in our Disaster Strikes, Opportunity Happens (DSOH) Mini-Blog Series.

Keep an eye out as we post our upcoming virtual programs on our events page.