7 min read
by Ricardo Figueiredo, Co-Founder & CEO
Published April 13, 2020
| STARTUP | CHALLENGE | COVID |
In December 2019, the whole world was aware of a series of pneumonia cases detected in Wuhan, China. In the first week of January, Chinese authorities confirm that they have identified the virus as a novel coronavirus, initially named 2019-nCoV by the WHO (World Health Organization).
The virus can make people sick, usually with a mild to moderate upper respiratory tract illness, similar to a common cold.
On February 14, 2020, a Chinese tourist who tested positive for the virus died in France, becoming the first person to die in the outbreak in Europe.
Less than a month after, Italy became the first European country to enter a complete lockdown and on March 11, 2020, the WHO declared the novel coronavirus outbreak to be a pandemic.
Due to the facts mentioned above, by the middle of March it was clear that the tourism sector will be one of the first sectors to be negatively impacted by this global pandemic and at the same time and as we continued to see the increase of the confirmed cases, one of the sectors that will also have difficulties to come back the way it was.
The airports were shut down, hotels closed, and the world went on self-isolation as a common measure to stop the spreading of the virus.
LUGGit was born in July 2019 and we have been seeing amazing growth numbers since then. We doubled the team and in the first two months of 2020, we grew at a 79% rate. The clients were amazed by our service and we were gaining trust among the accommodation sector in Lisbon and Porto. So, we understood that due to this global crisis our business model, our operational capacity and the metrics that we need in order to value the company will be negatively impacted. What could we do? Face the hard reality and hope for better days to come?
On March 15, 2020, a Sunday afternoon, we were thinking about what we could do in order to help those who need during these hard times and at the same time how we could take advantage of our operational capacity, our Keepers.
The maths seemed pretty basic. We just needed to sum what we had with what people would need, right?
LUGGit is a platform that works through a mobile app (available in iOS and Android) and allows anyone who travels to request a Keeper in real-time that will collect their luggage, keep it and deliver it at the place and time they choose.
By that time in Portugal, the government was being pressured to declare the emergency state. The question was when our Prime Minister, António Costa would declare it official.
So, the emergency state refers that you, as a single person, would only be authorized to leave home to buy essential needs. Plus, everyone knew by that time that the best thing to do in order to stop the spreading of the virus was to stay at home. The necessity became clear for us: how can I send food, medicines, clothes to my loved ones during these times of isolation?
Is at this moment that we put the facts all together:
This argument gave birth to the #WeMoveIt movement!
In just a couple of hours, our team did an amazing job and was capable of launching a service that allows every person in Lisbon or Porto to request a Keeper to collect goods like food, clothes, medicines and deliver it at other locations.
The impact is amazing and it’s growing. We started with a peer-to-peer approach in which you can send something from your home to another person’s location. From sons sending food to their parents (high-risk citizens), delivering food to the homes of health professionals and donations to hospitals and institutions.
As we grew, we started to talk with some associations in order to cause a bigger impact and so far, we are partnering with Zero Desperdício and Positive Benefits in order to collect big donations of goods and deliver it to those who need it the most! We are also working closely with Decathlon and Hospitals, in order to move material from the stores that are already being used to build masks and ventilators! People have been part of the movement and have been relentless in helping.
As a recent startup that has in its core a service to move personal belongings, the word trust was always a priority for us so it was also very important the impact that this action had in the Portuguese media. We were featured in the main Portuguese newspapers as Dinheiro Vivo, Visão and Observador and in the national television, RTP.
We are one of the projects integrated into the Tech4Covid19 association that at the time this article is being written, it has more than 5000 volunteers and more than 30 projects in different areas with the aim to build solutions faster than the virus spreads.
This is our strength. The ability to fight back, face the challenge and redefine it until we beat it.