Coronavirus: Dayton startup gives back to community

By Elizabeth Kyle  – Data Reporter, Dayton Business Journal

While the region’s industries have shifted business models following coronavirus (COVID-19) orders, local startups have done the same, and then some.

Picnk, a Dayton meal prep startup, has become a key community player and donated more than 1,700 meals locally. Founder William Foster said the initiative started simply, then grew within hours.

“I had a friend ask if she could donate money to pay for some meals,” Foster explained. “I put this news on Facebook and it just blew up.”

Additional individuals and companies stepped forward to donate more funds to make more meals, bringing the total to over 1,700 meals.

So far, 75 meals were delivered the week of March 16 to those who need it most. The company is working to deliver the remaining meals.

For Picnk itself, the business has still stuck to its weekly cycle of food orders and deliveries. But, it has made some changes to its offerings during this time.

Beginning March 20, select menu items are reduced to $6 from $7.50. Free delivery has been extended to the end of April and all pickup options have been eliminated. Healthcare workers, first responders, military personnel and service-based employees who cannot work from home are eligible for discounted meals.

“We know things are tight, we’re definitely going to try to do what we can,” Foster said. “We’re all in this together.”

Launch Dayton, the region’s startup advocacy organization, has been working to consolidate lists of resources for entrepreneurs.

Facing the most impacts at the moment are the brick and mortar startups with storefronts. As far as technology startups, it seems the impact will be slower to show itself. These startups will be effected if supply lines are interrupted, but for now, spending in those sectors doesn’t seem to have slowed much, according to Audrey Ingram, Launch Dayton’s social media and events coordinator.

The organization itself is working to consolidate resources available to assist local entrepreneurs and business owners. It has a running list of the latest startup developments, including news that its Early Risers Academy cohorts will move forward virtually.

Foster also offered tips for DBJ readers to support startups and small businesses during this time:

  • If you’re able to keep a subscription from a Dayton-area business, keep utilizing it.
  • The grocery stores are overwhelmed, so be sure to look at other options such as local takeout or delivery.
  • Contact business owners directly to see what you can do to help them, whether that’s buying gift cards or partnering on initiatives.
  • Blow up your social media and re-share what other businesses are doing during this time. Shoutouts are encouraging for small business owners. It’ll make them feel good and remind them why they’re doing this.

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