Tech for good during COVID-19: Children’s book, phone booths, and aperitifs

Helena Price Hambrecht and Woody Hambrecht always had plans for Haus, their direct-to-consumer low-alcoholic drink, to land white-label partnerships with local restaurants. But when coronavirus spread across the country and hurt thousands of local restaurants, the Haus founders saw an opportunity to fast forward on that product plan and at the same time give back.

Haus recently announced its plans to work with restaurants across the country and co-create local digs-inspired apéritifs. For Mister Jiu’s, an upscale Chinese restaurant in San Francisco, the beverage will mix “warm black cardamom, smoky lapsang tea, spicy ginger, and floral osmanthus.” For JuneBaby, a southern fare restaurant in Seattle, the drink will have hints of elderflower and oranges. The entire profit will go to the restaurants themselves, Helena tells me. And Haus has already begun cutting five-figure checks to restaurants just from pre-orders of these Haus-powered beverages alone.

On this refreshing note, let’s get into other ways venture-backed startups are using their presence to help others struggling during this time.

1. A phone booth for COVID-19 tests. Room, which manufactures privacy-focused office phone booths, hasn’t had much of a customer base lately as COVID-19 limits people from going into the office. The company has pivoted its resources to deploy a new product: coronavirus test booths for use in hospitals. The booths allow healthcare professionals to conduct tests with a protective barrier. It has already donated the first group of test booths to hospitals around the world, and it has made the design files for the booths available for free download to encourage others to manufacture locally.

2.Mission critical deliveries for free. Onfleet is offering its delivery software free of charge for companies and organizations that have mobilized to do community building deliveries. The startup is notably focused on critical deliveries and institutions that have had to change to delivery operations overnight. It’s working with partners like SF-Marin Foodbank, The NYC Dept for the Aging, various farmers markets around the country and other PPE delivery organizations that have recently organized.

3. Code from home. Fullstack Academy, an online coding and career development bootcamp, is offering a bootcamp prep course for free for two upcoming cohorts. The course, which will be run remotely, will cover specific coding and JavaScript concepts.

4. A daily assessment as a civic duty. A small team at Stanford Medicine created a National Daily Health Survey to help identify the prevalence of symptoms associated with COVID-19 in different ZIP codes across the United States. This survey is aimed at individuals who want to do a small part every day to help predict surges and inform response efforts. The survey takes 2-3 minutes to complete the first day, and 1 minute to complete in the days after that. It is currently being translated into five languages for broader usage. The team says that it’s looking for people who will make a long-term commitment for the survey.

5. World Without COVID. Clara Health, along with tech folks like Raj Kapoor of Lyft and Vijay Chattha of VSC, are launching a free website to track the public health status of the sick and healthy alike. The site wants to draw COVID-19 treatment data for public health professionals, as well as connect people to clinical trials. The team says that it will also track immunity status to help surface individuals that can volunteer in healthcare efforts in the future.

6. Twilio-powered hotline. is a website spun up by volunteers to provide resources on education, healthcare tips and concerts. Recently, the team launched a Twilio-powered hotline so people can be connected to local state hotlines. If you dial 478-29COVID, Twilio will automatically route you to the hotline that is in your state.

7. Hiring efforts for laid-off make-up artists. Il Makiage is hiring makeup artists who were recently laid off due to COVID-19 related reasons for virtual one-on-one makeup tutorials. The direct-to-consumer beauty brand is paying make-up artists $25 an hour.

8. A charitable Chrome extension. 4thwall wants to take all the TV binge-watching and put it toward a social good. First, users can sign up for a 4th wall Chrome extension. Then, once they activate the extension, they can stream Netflix or Hulu. After 250 minutes of streaming, a relief cause is unlocked and users can pick which COVID-19 specific charity they want to support. 4thwall will make a donation at no cost to the user. Per the website, the cost-free donations are possible because the company will send the viewer demographic metrics, anonymized, to other companies to see viewing trends and create content accordingly.  One of the creators, Andrew Schneider, says that the community has already raised $1,500 in the first two weeks, and the goal is to raise $40K in the next 10 weeks.

9. Bridal brand gives back. Online bridal brand Anomalie is delivering CDC-certified face masks to hospitals to help front-line healthcare workers. The company is using its supply chain and manufacturing relationships in China to make masks, instead of just wedding dresses. The first two shipments of over 10,000 masks have been delivered and received.

10. Bedtime storytelling just got a glow up. Yumi, a science-based childhood meal delivery startup, has created a free children’s book to explain COVID-19 to your little ones. It is available for download, and Snoop Dogg tweeted about it.