What COVID-19 relief programs do you qualify for? Corona Support tells you… in just 3 minutesJackie Gill - May 1, 2020
Do you qualify for any government support programs during COVID-19? And if so, which ones? Doing the research yourself can get confusing… but four entrepreneurs in Ontario’s tech corridor have it down to a three-minute (if that) survey.
Here’s how Brad Moon, Tamara Bain, Kyle Kaiser and Jason Knott built Corona Support in just a few short weeks, and what other organizations can learn from their efforts to help.
What gave you the idea to start Corona Support?
MOON: We’re all quite experienced with building and launching products like this. Everyone on the team has founded multiple startups, so they’ve went through this process many times.
Less than a month ago, we all got together and we had a bit of spare time. We were like, “Hey, I know this is a pretty tough time for a lot of people. I wonder if there’s anything we can do to help out?” We had this big ideation session. We had a few ideas that we were bouncing around, but the one that stuck was this difficulty navigating the government support programs. There’s honestly a lot of programs and a lot of them are quite useful. But navigating them was so difficult. There’s so many and it’s really hard to figure out which ones you qualify for.
It was kind of cool to see us all come together and really quickly push something out that is actually quite useful and solves a real problem.
How do you stay on top of new and changing government programs?
MOON: We started off with the federal ones and then after that, we got a feel for how to implement these quickly. We have a pretty good process of, once the program’s announced, how do we figure out which questions we need to ask and then actually implement it? We can do a new program in less than a day. But it’s tough. It’s constantly checking the news and staying up-to-date with government programs, especially on the provincial ones. There’s actually quite a lot.
What’s it been like, launching this program while working remotely?
MOON: It’s been interesting! We’ve been really strict with our daily standup, so once a day at 10:30 we’ll all meet and go over our day. And then it’s just being really, really involved on Slack and really responsive. It’s actually my first time working in a remote position like this, but and it’s been a lot better than I actually imagined. I actually quite enjoy it.
I thought communication would be a lot worse, but I think it’s just a matter of embracing it. You put procedures in place and you put structure into it. Once you have that in, you can work quite well.
What kind of results have you seen so far?
MOON: We had 16,000 people through our website in just over a week. I’m quite happy with that, if the numbers continue to grow every day. Overall, the responses have been quite positive. The main critique we’ve gotten is just from people feeling left out, but we’ve really tried to support those people by taking their feedback and submitting it to the government.
What do you need the most right now?
MOON: We’re just trying to get the word out to as many people as possible. Our reviews have been quite good so far, and a lot of people have found this useful, from those who didn’t know which programs they qualify for to other people who don’t qualify for anything but now have peace of mind that they’re not missing out on anything. We think a lot of people can benefit from this, so we’re just trying to get it out to as many people as possible.
What advice do you have for other people who want to help out right now?
MOON: Just go for it, I’d say. I think focusing on a problem first is the best way to make good products. That’s something I always focus on: “Is this a real problem that people are facing?” and then get evidence that people are actually facing this problem outside of yourself. We started with ourselves facing these problems, so there’s one data point there, but we talked to a lot of people and verified this is a real problem people are facing.
Then, just do it. Even if it fails, building and launching products like this, you learn so much along the way.
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