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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As the coronavirus pandemic quickly upended the U.S. economy and everyday life, it has also prompted entrepreneurs to devise clever solutions to new problems.

What’s happening: Founders have quickly spun up projects like Frontline Foods and StopCovid-19 to tackle urgent needs like generating revenue for restaurants and keeping essential service workers informed of fast-changing health guidelines.

“We attracted probably the best team I’ve ever seen at a startup,” San Francisco-based entrepreneur Frank Barbieri tells Axios of the volunteers helping Frontline Foods, an organization he helped launch less than a month ago.

  • The project was born after his friend, emergency room nurse Sydney Gressler, told him that sending meals to her hospital would make a huge difference to the medical staff as it works under increased pressure.
  • Barbieri’s friend, investor Ryan Sarver, tapped his contacts in the local industry and donations from friends, and a two-for-one solution took off: keeping restaurants paid and employed while feeding local health care workers.
  • Since then, more than 300 volunteers across the country have set up local chapters of the effort, and Frontline Foods has graduated from a set of spreadsheets to a full-fledged website, organized working groups via chat app Slack, and even a national partnership with chef Jose Andres’ nonprofit, World Central Kitchen.

The big picture: Entrepreneurs, seasoned executives and professionals have been jumping at the challenges created by the coronavirus crisis to offer ideas, time and skills to projects like these examples and many others.

  • “I haven't felt this engaged as a human being in a long time,” said Dan Teran, an entrepreneur who recently left WeWork after selling his company, and has been helping with StopCovid-19, a project that sends health and safety information to frontline workers via text messages.
  • Teran had been advising ESL Works, a startup that provides English language training to food service workers, when founder and CEO Rachael Nemeth asked him to help in applying the company’s tech to the current needs of the crisis. The service is now used by delivery drivers for Delivery.com, supply chain workers for Blackstone’s RGIS, and several other companies.
  • Greg Isenberg, another entrepreneur who sold his startup to WeWork, recently created a website that lets users pay for a live video tutorial from a barber. While hair salons and barber shops remain closed, men can get much-needed guidance on cutting their hair while barbers get paid.

Between the lines: While much of these efforts are driven by the immediate problems and needs that the coronavirus pandemic has created, the solutions will likely outlast the current situation.

  • “We think the model has long-term viability,” says Barbieri. “The next California wildfire or earthquake or hurricane… now that the genie is out of the box, it’s never going back.”
  • “It sped up the roadmap undoubtedly,” says Nemeth of her three-person startup’s overnight jump beyond its initial language training focus, adding that she expects the need for training related to the COVID-19 crisis to be needed for a long time.

The bottom line: Creativity often springs out of crisis, and it couldn't be more true for entrepreneurs amid the current pandemic.

Go deeper: Coronavirus brings out Silicon Valley's inner problem-solver

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Updated 1 hour ago - Science

NASA's delays Mars helicopter test flight

Ingenuity (left) with Perseverance on Mars. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA announced Saturday it rescheduled its Ingenuity Mars helicopter's first experimental flight, originally planned for Sunday.

The latest: "During a high-speed spin test of the rotors on Friday, the command sequence controlling the test ended early due to a 'watchdog' timer expiration," NASA said in a statement. "This occurred as it was trying to transition the flight computer from ‘Pre-Flight’ to ‘Flight’ mode."

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Ohio Senate candidate Josh Mandel escorted out of RNC retreat

Ohio Republican Senate candidate Josh Mandel. Photo: Chris Maddaloni / Getty Images

During this weekend’s highly anticipated donor retreat hosted by the Republican National Committee in Palm Beach, Ohio Senate candidate Josh Mandel was escorted off the premises while his primary opponent, Jane Timken, was allowed to stay, two sources with direct knowledge of the situation tell Axios.

What we’re hearing: The invitation-only event is taking place at the Four Seasons Resort, and the RNC reserved the entire hotel. While Timken, former Ohio GOP chair, was invited to the event “because she is a major donor” — Mandel was not, so he was asked to leave, according to one of the sources.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
3 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Report: John Kerry plans to visit China ahead of Biden's climate summit

John Kerry. Photo: Zach Gibson / Stringer

John Kerry, President Biden's special climate envoy, is expected to travel to China next week for meetings with officials aimed at boosting collaboration, the Washington Post reported Saturday.

Why it matters: China is the world's largest carbon dioxide emitter and the U.S. is second-largest.