For Edgar Brown, co-founder and CEO of FitDrive that change is also an opportunity. The need for online resources that support physical trainers has always been obvious to him, but he has found that trainers were sometimes slow to adopt new technologies. With social distancing recommendations still largely in place and no knowledge of when gyms and fitness studios will be able to re-open, trainers have had to make the shift to online spaces. Brown’s FitDrive app supports this transition by providing trainers with a tool to deliver remote personal training to their clients.
While the pandemic has forced Brown and other entrepreneurs to re-evaluate their financial forecast and fundraising goals, he acknowledges that the situation has provided him with the opportunity to develop a product that fits the behavioural change brought about by the global health crisis.
Craig Buntin, CEO of SPORTLOGiQ echoes Brown’s vision of the pandemic as a double-edged sword for businesses in the fitness and sporting industry. In early 2014, Buntin, an Olympic athlete identified a need for advanced analytics in sports and teamed up with his co-founder, Mehrsan Javan, a PhD candidate in computer vision and machine learning to create SPORTLOGiQ. Their three global offices support almost every team in the NHL, alongside a number of competitive soccer, football, and lacrosse teams.
“We work with teams to help them understand their own teams and their opponents better and win more games,” Buntin explained.
However, with the suspension of live sports, a large part of the analysis that SPORTLOGiQ performs has ground to a halt. Buntin has pivoted to leverage his team’s expertise in other business lines by taking advantage of opportunities that do not require live coverage. For instance, in the absence of in-person evaluations of players, SPORTLOGiQ was able to support its partner NFL teams in preparation for the April draft by providing them with data-based analyses of prospective picks.
“The pandemic caused a really quick shift in overall business strategy,” Buntin said. “We’ve re-focused on things that don’t require that daily game analysis. We pulled back on riskier projects, too and we’re now relying more heavily on our core competency, which is computer vision and Artificial Intelligence.”
As a young business, SPORTLOGiQ has always prided itself on its open culture, that encourages decision-making by consensus across the organization. Such a dynamic strategy is invaluable during times of crisis like these.
“That type of emergent strategy or that situation where we’ve got to very quickly make an important decision has actually become a cultural strength of ours,” Buntin said.
Brown is also familiar with the flexibility that combating a global crisis requires. FitDrive, previously known as FYT, underwent a rebranding earlier in the year that was ready just in time for when it’s customers needed it most.
In response to Covid-19, FitDrive is positioning itself as an educational resource for trainers who are still new to offering their services remotely. Brown and his two co-founders, Milena Fagandini and Carter Sprigings are hosting webinars, scheduling free consultation calls, and publishing content on the company’s Facebook support group to help fitness businesses leverage technology to adapt to the current situation, rather than aggressively marketing their product. His team hopes that the support that they offer to prospective customers will illustrate the value of their product.
“We’re connecting with trainers to hear about the struggles that they’re going through and acting as a base of education and support for them,” Brown explained.
While both FitDrive and SPORTLOGiQ have had to adapt their offerings in the midst of the global pandemic, Buntin feels that businesses in the sporting and fitness industry have a distinct advantage when it comes to surviving a crisis: athletic resilience.
“The best athletes in the world are not the ones who are the most talented or the ones who are the hardest working,” Buntin said. “It’s the ones who survived and made it the full ten, fifteen, or twenty years. Those are the ones that are the best simply because they persevered through tough situations. You have to continue to push through adversity: that is the thing that separates the champions from those who don’t succeed.”
By persevering through the trials caused by Covid-19, Brown and Buntin are striving to propel their businesses toward a brighter future on the other side of the pandemic.
City of Powell River mayor Dave Formosa reported on a number of initiatives at the September 15 committee of the whole meeting.
Formosa told council he has been meeting with people from out of town looking to move to the Powell River area. He said some are interested in starting businesses, and there are groups looking at creating businesses within the community.
“We are getting a lot of publicity lately for our very active real estate market,” said Formosa. “That also brings entrepreneurs that find their way into city hall and into the mayor’s office.”
Formosa said he has been having conversations with Patrick Corriveau, vice-president of paper and packaging with Catalyst Paper Corporation, which is wholly owned by Paper Excellence. He said discussions have involved Catalyst’s plans for short-term back-to-work and long-term outlooks for the mill.
“I’ve had three meetings with him via telephone in the last little while,” said Formosa. “I’ve also been talking about taxes and tax revitalization issues.”
He said he had been receiving a fair number of calls from residents who are not happy with information coming out of city hall regarding the COVID-19 situation locally.
“They are seeing news reports from our friends in the Tla’amin Nation and the issues of the outbreak in their community, and the great job they are doing,” said Formosa. “Our citizenry is wondering what is going on here in Powell River.”
Formosa said residents were wondering if there were similar outbreaks in Powell River and that the city is working with Vancouver Coastal Health very closely. He added that leaders of the three governments – Tla’amin, qathet Regional District and City of Powell River, plus chief administrative officers of those three governments, the chair of the emergency operations centre and the chair of the regional hospital board – have been trying to get Vancouver Coastal Health to come up with some language that can be shared with the public.
“Folks are curious,” said Formosa. “They hear there are X-amount of cases and I don’t blame them. We’re hoping there will be some announcements coming out very soon, jointly, with the three levels of government, that can help our residents somewhat in regard to this COVID-19 situation that we are finding ourselves in here in our district.”
Formosa said a meeting was held with the city’s protective services group and that crime rates are on the downswing, “which makes us very happy.”
“We are hoping to continue this trend,” added Formosa, “with seeing our crime rate come down.”
European energy companies like BP, Royal Dutch Shell and others have lately been selling off oil fields and investing billions in renewable energy, a response to plunging oil prices and growing concerns about climate changes.
But the American oil giants Chevron and Exxon Mobil are going in a far different direction. They are doubling down on oil and natural gas and investing what amounts to pocket change in innovative climate-oriented efforts like small nuclear power plants and devices that suck carbon out of the air.
The disparity reflects the vast differences in how Europe and the United States are approaching climate change, a global threat that many scientists say is increasing the frequency and severity of disasters like wildfires and hurricanes. European leaders have made tackling climate change a top priority while President Trump has called it a “hoax” and has dismantled environmental regulations to encourage the exploitation of fossil fuels.
The big American and European oil and gas companies publicly agree that climate change is a threat and that they must play a role in the kind of energy transition the world last saw during the industrial revolution. But the urgency with which the companies are planning to transform their businesses could not be more different.
“Despite rising emissions and societal demand for climate action, U.S. oil majors are betting on a long-term future for oil and gas, while the European majors are gambling on a future as electricity providers,” said David Goldwyn, a top State Department energy official in the Obama administration. “The way the market reacts to their strategies and the 2020 election results will determine whether either strategy works.”
As car sales collapsed in Europe because of the pandemic, one category grew rapidly: electric vehicles.
One reason is that purchase prices in Europe are coming tantalizingly close to the prices for cars with gasoline or diesel engines. For example:
An electric Volkswagen ID.3 for the same price as a Golf.
A Tesla Model 3 that costs as much as a BMW 3 Series.
A Renault Zoe electric subcompact whose monthly lease payment might equal a nice dinner for two in Paris.
This near parity is possible only with government subsidies that, depending on the country, can cut more than $10,000 from the final price. Carmakers are offering deals on electric cars to meet stricter European Union regulations on carbon dioxide emissions. Electric vehicles are not yet as popular in the United States, largely because government incentives are less generous.
As electric cars become more mainstream, the automobile industry is rapidly approaching the tipping point when, even without subsidies, it will be as cheap, and maybe cheaper, to own a plug-in vehicle than one that burns fossil fuels. The carmaker that reaches price parity first may be positioned to dominate the segment.
A few years ago, industry experts expected 2025 would be the turning point. But technology is advancing faster than expected, and could be poised for a quantum leap. Elon Musk is expected to announce a breakthrough at Tesla’s “Battery Day” event on Tuesday that would allow electric cars to travel significantly farther without adding weight.
The balance of power in the auto industry may depend on which carmaker, electronics company or start-up succeeds in squeezing the most power per pound into a battery, what’s known as energy density.
“We’re seeing energy density increase faster than ever before,” said Milan Thakore, a senior research analyst at Wood Mackenzie, an energy consultant which recently pushed its prediction of the tipping point ahead by a year, to 2024.