16 Examples of Small Businesses That Started During The Pandemic

Some of the most successful businesses started during the 2008 recession, and that may just be the case for the recent COVID-19 pandemic.

As the world is currently adjusting to a whole new normal, individuals have left their jobs and decided to purse an entrepreneurial career.

We went through our database of case studies and created a list of the most successful small businesses that started in 2020.

In these case studies, the founders dive deep into their strategies around launching their business during one of the worlds biggest crisis and how they continue to grow and run their business today.

1. ($18K/year)

Whitney Bowen from Virginia, USA started Fem 'n STEM 8 months ago, a business.

  • Revenue: $1,500/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1
  • Location: Virginia, USA

With three months left of my freshman year of college, the campus was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The transition was smooth and somber: my dorm was replaced by my childhood bedroom, late nights chatting with friends became FaceTimes and lectures began to take place on my pixelated computer screen. However, as someone who volunteered each week in the pediatric oncology unit of the Yale-New Haven Hospital, I noticed that extracurriculars didn’t manage the virtual transition quite as effortlessly.

In high school, I spent two years on an all-girls robotics team, taught computer science camps in the summers, and co-founded Fem ‘n STEM: a then school club with the mission of encouraging all genders equally to pursue their passions in the sciences. We met monthly and carried out a variety of interactive experiments for 4th-6th grade students, led by upperclassmen. Clubs and activities were just as influential as time spent in the classroom -- and the specific extracurriculars which I chose to partake in gave me a strong interest in ending the gender gap in the sciences.

In the first few weeks of quarantine, despite supposedly being “self-sufficient adults,” my older sisters and I constantly pestered our parents and each other for entertainment between classes; I imagined the need for a distraction was even stronger in the younger generations. Upon hearing that many students had minimal or no online learning due to technological and age restraints, I began brainstorming ways to bring educational extracurricular activities into students’ homes.

how-i-launched-a-1-5k-month-science-box-for-kids-during-covid-19-quarantine

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Whitney Bowen, on starting Fem 'n STEM ($1,500/month) full story ➜

2. Start a digital agency ($264K/year)

Hailey Brooke McFadden from started Power Move Marketing 9 months ago, a digital agency.

  • Revenue: $22,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 2
  • Location:

I have a pretty decently sized personal following on IG from being a college volleyball player and a short stint as a sideline reporter for ACCN/ ESPN. Companies began reaching out to me asking me to post and I told one company no because their IG and website weren’t very professional and it would do him a disservice because even if I got the traffic there I knew it wouldn’t convert.

Give people recognition and praise for a job well done, even if your co-founder or employee is a friend or spouse… don’t forget they need a little love too!

So he said, “why don’t you run it then?”. I ended up running his socials, doing all his emails, working with suppliers to make new products, creating an ambassador program, editing the website, customer service, and more! Once I posted about my success with this company, more and more companies began reaching out for help! Most companies already had several marketing teams on when I would come on and my ads and other work always outperformed theirs. I realized I brought something the other companies couldn’t- cohesiveness with email, socials, ads, etc.

how-i-started-a-22k-month-one-stop-shop-marketing-company-for-e-commerce-businesses

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Hailey Brooke McFadden , on starting Power Move Marketing ($22,000/month) full story ➜

3. ($14.4K/year)

Danny Postma from Roden, Bavaria, Germany started ConvertWell 5 months ago, a business.

  • Revenue: $1,200/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 0
  • Location: Roden, Bavaria, Germany

My story starts in 2015 (I was 21 back then) when I launched Landingfolio, a design gallery featuring the best landing page designs on the web. I worked as a freelance Conversion Optimization Specialist and couldn't find any good inspiration when designing landing pages for clients. This set me to create my very first personal side project.

Build something you would use yourself. If no one buys it, it's still of value to you. Also, you are the best customer and know exactly what you want.

Landingfolio quickly grew to one of the biggest inspiration websites targeting landing pages and gets around 1000 visitors per day. Inspiration websites are super hard to monetize as designers mostly come for inspiration and leave again. I've run the website for 4 years without doing much about earning money with it and mostly focussed on client work.

how-my-headline-generator-made-16k-in-sales-in-48h

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Danny Postma, on starting ConvertWell ($1,200/month) full story ➜

4. Start an email newsletter business ($1.2K/year)

Qin Xie from London, England, United Kingdom started Money Talk 7 months ago, a email newsletter business.

  • Revenue: $100/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1
  • Location: London, England, United Kingdom

My day job is a travel editor for a national newspaper in the UK, which I absolutely love. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, I was put on furlough at the beginning of May.

The great thing about launching a newsletter as a subscription product is that the overheads are low - or in my case, zero. The only thing I had to give up was my time, and I had plenty of it.

That month coincided with lots of journalists around the world getting laid off. Needless to say, I was seriously worried about whether or not I’d have a job by the end of the furlough period and how I’d make up the difference in income.

on-starting-a-reader-funded-newsletter-about-personal-finance

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Qin Xie, on starting Money Talk ($100/month) full story ➜

5. ($1.8K/year)

Mukul Verma from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada started Mokool Apps 8 months ago, a business.

  • Revenue: $150/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1
  • Location: Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

I have been an entrepreneur for years prior to expanding into the Shopify app business. This is an extension of Mokool Apps which developed iOS and Android apps since 2012.

Back in 2011 I was running a phone unlocking website and it was doing very well, however, I was looking to get into something that was more long-term, I made a list of what I was looking for in my next business which included (long-term, early into the market, big revenue, work from home), after 5 months and looking at a lot of opportunities from the franchise, real estate, stocks, affiliate programs, eCommerce and even offline businesses, I then landed on the idea of mobile apps. It was a perfect fit and checked all the boxes.

I made a list of what I was looking for in my next business.

how-i-started-developing-and-launching-shopify-apps

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Mukul Verma, on starting Mokool Apps ($150/month) full story ➜

6. ($14.4K/year)

Stefan Djordjevic from Austin, Texas, USA started Mini Startups 8 months ago, a business.

  • Revenue: $1,200/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1
  • Location: Austin, Texas, USA

What’s my backstory? Where do I start? :)

Growing up, I was always an oddball. Sometimes I was quiet, other times inquisitive, but often I was just weird. I was passionate about one thing: outer space. After starring in an elementary school mockumentary that got published by NASA, I decided that I never wanted to give up on my dream of becoming an astronaut. So, I became a biochemist/pilot in college and then graduated to work at NASA as an Analyst.

Selling begins on Day One. Don’t build your idea then hope it works. Build a prototype or even a napkin drawing, and start selling before you build anything.

on-launching-a-course-on-building-mini-tech-companies-from-scratch

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Stefan Djordjevic, on starting Mini Startups ($1,200/month) full story ➜

7. ($6K/year)

Ryan Pfeiffer from New York, USA started Revive Me 10 months ago, a business.

  • Revenue: $500/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 0
  • Location: New York, USA

Like many young professionals, I couldn't afford to get sick as an investment banker in New York. We had no “sick days” and instead loaded up on as many vitamins and health drinks we could try to hide our sniffles and returned to our desk. As soon as any semblance of a cold surfaced, I ran to the pharmacy, the health foods store, and a smoothie bar and filled up with vitamins, fruits, and pills. These were never cheap runs.

There had to be a better way to get back on my feet than a pharmacy cocktail of supplements. I started experimenting with ingredients that science has proven hastens recoveries, to create a single shot to fulfill all my vitamin and antioxidant requirements. When I took all these ingredients I either didn’t fully get sick or got back on my feet significantly faster. I went from someone with a rundown immune system to not having a cold in over a year.

I have no background in the food & beverage world. So with the help of a food scientist, I created a unique blend of ingredients that includes vitamin C and zinc, both of which are clinically proven to shorten your cold, plus a medley of other immune boosters and antioxidants.

on-launching-a-immunity-boost-shots-brand-in-the-covid-19-times

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Ryan Pfeiffer, on starting Revive Me ($500/month) full story ➜

8. ($192K/year)

Menajem Benchimol from Mexico City, Mexico City, Mexico started Get Ayuda 10 months ago, a business.

  • Revenue: $16,000/ month
  • Founders: 3
  • Employees: 0
  • Location: Mexico City, Mexico City, Mexico

Zeev and I met during a business program in China and Hong Kong back in 2017. We always talked about technology and how Latin America can take part in the next disruptive revolutions. As time passed by, Zeev founded Jacze, a male accessory subscription box in Mexico. He always told me the cultural differences made it difficult to work with Chinese manufacturers, and last year he set on to find manufacturers in Mexico for his brand.

Misunderstandings will happen, find ways to communicate especially during the chaos and remain calm.

Zeev moved his entire operations right before the Chinese New Year back in 2019 which is a very difficult date for e-commerce worldwide since trade is stopped for a month. This year, I was asking him how it was going, and when COVID-19 was starting to break out in China we saw an opportunity to help companies relocate their manufacturers’ orders to Mexico.

how-we-started-a-16k-month-service-helping-companies-find-manufacturers-in-mexico

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Menajem Benchimol, on starting Get Ayuda ($16,000/month) full story ➜

9. ($42K/year)

Mitch Glaser and Chelsea Glaser from Santa Monica, California, USA started Fredi 8 months ago, a business.

  • Revenue: $3,500/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 2
  • Location: Santa Monica, California, USA

Mitch spent 7 years working on Wall Street as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs & Deutsche Bank. While doing so, he started taking nootropics (which are dietary supplements designed to promote cognitive function) to help him stay sharp and manage stress as he worked long hours. He found these products to be extremely beneficial, and yet barely anyone around him had heard about them.

Because of this, he decided he wanted to launch his own brand. After bouncing the idea off of his sister Chelsea (who founded her own branding agency called Launch it Girl) to get some advice, the two began brainstorming. It quickly became clear to them both that the underserved segment of the market was women and that if they teamed up, not only could they introduce a new, up and coming product to the female market, but also continue to push Launch it Girl’s mission of empowering ambitious women! This is when Fredi was born.

Mitch left his finance job to focus on Fredi full-time, while Chelsea continues to work on growing Launch it Girl.

how-we-launched-a-3-5k-month-brand-of-nootropics-for-women

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Mitch Glaser and Chelsea Glaser, on starting Fredi ($3,500/month) full story ➜

10. Start a soap business ($14.4K/year)

Warnisha Foster from Ocala, Florida, USA started Kiss My Crown Essentials 9 months ago, a soap business.

  • Revenue: $1,200/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1
  • Location: Ocala, Florida, USA

I was a troubled youth. I grew up in a single-parent home. My mother went to prison when I was just nine years old. She was a victim of domestic violence. I remember just thinking to myself that I was ready to change my life. I wanted better for myself. I was tired of struggling. My grandmother is my hero she inspired me not just to exist but to live. At my lowest moment, I decided that it would be great.

After, I had my first child at 20 years old. She changed my life the moment I looked in her eyes. I knew I had to come up with a plan to provide and protect her. I tried several different businesses at first. I had an eyelash business first but I did not love it as much.

I came up with the idea to start to Kiss My Crown Essentials because I was tired of buying products that were advertised as being the best but left my skin feeling dry. What set my plan in motion was when my kids would have eczema flare-ups from using regular soap. That was it. I wanted better for them so I decided to make a product that was safer, full of nutrients, and body oil. I created a soap called Catch’em With Honey.

on-starting-a-homemade-organic-soap-brand-from-the-kitchen

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Warnisha Foster, on starting Kiss My Crown Essentials ($1,200/month) full story ➜

11. Start a skills training business ($9.07K/year)

Andrew Kamphey from Remote started Better Sheets 8 months ago, a skills training business.

  • Revenue: $756/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 0
  • Location: Remote

It began as a side project while building a web app. I had wanted to launch something helpful to a broad set of people. And I wanted to launch something that could run without my interference.

In the company that I co-founded, to do ad sales we were constantly building biz models and outreach in Google Sheets. My co-founder earlier this year mentioned that all my Google Sheets look great. And are way above anything else he had seen.

I didn’t have to validate it, necessarily, before creating it. I just launched the damn thing on a Friday. Landing page, 4 free videos, and 4 paid videos. I set a price and moved on with my life. Come Monday I had a sale, and everything blasted off from there.

on-creating-and-monetising-google-sheets-tutorials

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Andrew Kamphey, on starting Better Sheets ($756/month) full story ➜

12. Start an email automation platform ($420K/year)

Arthur Backouche from Sydney, New South Wales, Australia started COLDINBOX 8 months ago, a email automation platform.

  • Revenue: $35,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 0
  • Location: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

I recently got my diploma in computer sciences and had the opportunity to move to Australia.

When I arrived in Sydney with $1,000 in my pocket, I spent 3 weeks looking every single day for a new job in growth/digital marketing.

It was a real challenge to engage with all the startups' CEOs in Sydney, and ask if they’re hiring for one reason: It’s a repetitive process.

how-we-launched-a-35k-month-tool-to-send-bulk-linkedin-messages

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Arthur Backouche, on starting COLDINBOX ($35,000/month) full story ➜

13. Start an online retail business ($6K/year)

Corey Rust from Troutdale, Oregon, USA started 37413 Gear 9 months ago, a online retail business.

  • Revenue: $500/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1
  • Location: Troutdale, Oregon, USA

In 2017, I started to become friends with a guy whose name sounds like a 1970’s TV show police detective or an Indiana Jones-esque character. His name is Jack Blazer, and Jack is one of those kinds of people that can be very intimidating but has a heart made of gold. Ask anyone that really knows him, and I think they’d agree with that.

You worked hard. You sacrificed. And you made it happen. No one can take that away from you, nor should you let anyone take that away from you.

In early summer 2018, Jack was diagnosed with a form of cancer that was not only rare but ridiculous; as is all cancer. Jack was a Portland Police Officer, and I viewed Jack as the epitome of what a fighter is and should be and someone who rarely let anything defeat him. So, at the time and for a long time after, I optimistically looked at this as just another battle he had to fight and that he would win. I suppose many shares that view, when someone that is close and we care about, is diagnosed with something so terrifying. I wasn’t any different.

on-starting-an-online-store-to-raise-funds-for-the-law-enforcement-community

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Corey Rust, on starting 37413 Gear ($500/month) full story ➜

14. Start a bridal store ($0/year)

Melanie Newman from Leeds, England, United Kingdom started wanttheoryBridal 9 months ago, a bridal store.

  • Revenue: $0/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1
  • Location: Leeds, England, United Kingdom

I am currently in full-time work. I’d been feeling deflated. I needed something that felt like it was mine. Something that feels like it is giving me purpose. Something that will put a smile on people’s faces. I looked at mobility aids and wellbeing products. Before coming to the conclusion that wedding dresses and evening wear would be on my website.

Go for a product/s you believe in. If you aren’t inspired or feel positive about the products you are selling. You will find it so boring having to find the products and put them on your website.

on-launching-a-bridal-and-special-occasion-wear-store

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Melanie Newman, on starting wanttheoryBridal ($0/month) full story ➜

15. Start a men's underwear brand ($9.6K/year)

Zaid Shahatit from Toronto, Ontario, Canada started Nooks 11 months ago, a men's underwear brand.

  • Revenue: $800/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I was always going to go to med school as far back as I remember. I busted my a-- in high school and university - balanced fitness with a good GPA, extra-curricular, research, etc. Unfortunately, I applied and didn’t get in, so I decided to start working on a Masters Degree in Genetics and Bipolar Disorder research. Although it’s still currently my “day job”, I have to say that I really didn’t like having to go somewhere 9-5 and waste 3 hours a day on a commute.

I’ve always wanted to start selling online. I looked at brands like Chubbies and Dr. Squatch and absolutely loved their humor-packed marketing to regular guys. Fast forward to needing to buy underwear, and I remember not really connecting to brands like Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger - they show ripped dudes with 10-pack abs and play off of “sexy” marketing. Although they do cater to a certain segment of the market, and clearly their marketing works, I thought that “regular guys” (including me) were being underserved. Plus, their materials are either cotton (which isn’t very… ”friendly”) or synthetic materials. Both of them are uncomfortable, get sweaty and are generally unpleasant to wear.

Here’s a simple test to see if you really connect with a brand. Ask yourself “what underwear am I wearing?”. I’m willing to bet that for most guys, they don’t really know. When it comes to underwear, most guys don’t consider what they’re wearing. All they know is that it’s something you wear under your clothes. I thought - hey, let me try to get guys excited about underwear.

on-starting-a-men-s-underwear-brand

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Zaid Shahatit, on starting Nooks ($800/month) full story ➜

16. Start an online courses business ($72K/year)

Bram Kanstein from Amsterdam, North Holland, The Netherlands started No-Code MVP 12 months ago, a online courses business.

  • Revenue: $6,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 0
  • Location: Amsterdam, North Holland, The Netherlands

Ever since I was younger, like 15 or 16, I’ve been using the internet to find new products and services to try out. I’ve always been intrigued by the concept of time: “why are people spending time on this idea or product?”. Time is our most scarce asset, even if I see an idea that seems invaluable to me, there are still people spending time on it. So there must something there that they believe in, right? As a side-business, I was selling self burned CDs with music I got from Napster, and from the proceeds, we threw parties for our friends.

It seems that when I was 18 and had to choose a study to follow, I totally didn’t realize that I could actually pursue a path of digital and online entrepreneurship. So after starting and quitting the study of political science after four months, followed by two years of med school, I decided to drop out again. I went backpacking in Australia and realized I forgot what I liked as a kid. I came back to Amsterdam and finished a study called “Communication and Multimedia Design” where I learned how to look at markets, spot trends, come up with ideas, create prototypes (basic coding), create videos, write marketing and business plans, etc. Basically everything you need to know to go from idea to business (in theory of course ;)).

I wrote my final paper on the Lean Startup Methodology while working on a product idea at The Next Web, then worked at a small investor for 2.5 years, launched Startup Stash (1.000.000+ users), worked at Product Hunt, freelanced for startups, launched a growth marketing agency, got burned out, became a Lean Innovation coach at one of The Netherland’s biggest banks, Sold Startup Stash, Sold another side-project, then became a father and took time off as you have read above! This is the short summary, I threw away around 20 ideas I had in the meantime.

creating-and-launching-a-6000-month-course-as-a-stay-at-home-dad

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Bram Kanstein, on starting No-Code MVP ($6,000/month) full story ➜

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Starter Story,   Founder of Starter Story

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