Companies to Watch: Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic

July 23, 2020

Companies to Watch: Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Innovation and adaptability define New York’s tech community. That culture inspired a rapid call to action from entrepreneurs, engineers, and creatives alike, when they saw New Yorkers hurting during the coronavirus pandemic. Whether by helping our hospitals, schools, small businesses, or our most vulnerable communities, New York’s tech sector has been at the forefront of the city’s response.

Here, we’re profiling New York startups using their tools to support New York — and the entire country — over these difficult months. Check back here weekly for new conversations with the founders lending a hand.


What does your company do?
StrongArm Tech founder and CEO Sean Petterson: StrongArm Tech is the world’s leading safety science company, founded on the mission of keeping the world’s Industrial Athletes™ Proud, Protected and Productive.

Why did you found your company in NYC?
SP: New York is home.

With New York’s reopening ongoing, companies are, of course, thinking about when — and how — to bring their employees back to the workplace. StrongArm has been providing some guidance on that with Newlab’s Return to Work Studio. What is the studio working on, and what insights have you gathered already?
SP: Newlab is an incredible incubator space that’s home to more than 800 entrepreneurs, many of whom were considered essential in the midst of the COVID pandemic. We’re the founding member of Newlab, so when we enhanced our FUSE Risk Management Platform to include COVID response capabilities, it felt only right that we’d team up with them to help their most critical workers get back to work quickly and safely.

By placing our FUSE Sensor on-body at New Lab, we saw proximity-related alerts — that is, instances of two or more workers getting within six feet of each other — decrease by more than 95 percent in just 10 days.

New technologies — many that may not have been necessary or expected in office settings pre-pandemic — could be useful moving forward. What are some of those tools?
SP: A main reason we were able to deploy COVID capabilities to our wearable sensor — physical distancing alerts, contact tracing capabilities and customized daily reports chief among them — is because our existing risk management platform already supported it. So, for it, the COVID response wasn’t a pivot; it was an essential enhancement to a technology designed to keep workers safe on the job. As the profile of industrial risk changes — as it did so dramatically with the advent of COVID-19 — our technology evolves in lockstep. It’s the only way we adhere to our mission, day in and day out, of keeping the world’s Industrial Athletes™ proud, protected and productive.

What will be the most dramatic change you think workers should expect in their professional lives when they’re able to return to the office?
SP: Every workplace is different, industrial or otherwise. In terms of change, I think workers should expect COVID precautions to be in place, “dramatic” or not. One major advantage we see in the deployment of our wearable FUSE Sensor is that it’s easy to check in and out and super lightweight and unobtrusive on the body. Basically, it’s a COVID Guardian Angel you won’t know is there until your safety comes into question.

Are there any projects StrongArm put on hold when the outbreak began? What are you most looking forward to devoting more time to when the pandemic ends?
SP: Our platform was focused on reducing ergonomic injury in the workplace — back injuries being a main pain point for companies. We’re still doing that with our existing clients (some major Fortune 100s among them) and have no plans of changing that. Our COVID response, as I’ve mentioned, was an enhancement to our offering rather than a pivot.

Where do you get your favorite pizza slice?
SP: Paulie Gee’s (though in a pinch, any dollar slice will generally do).

Where do you get your favorite bagel?
SP: Frankel’s or Ess-a-Bagel.

What is the best New York waterfront?
SP: We are, of course, partial to the Navy Yard, though we love DUMBO as well.

What’s your favorite New York building?
SP: New Lab, 77 Washington Ave. (It’s where the magic happens.)

What’s your favorite remote work office hack?
SP: Get yourself a dog — great for morale and the occasional distraction when needed.

What’s one new thing your team is doing to stay connected while everyone works from afar?
SP: Since COVID forced our office to start working remotely — so, 3+ months now — we’ve had an all-company standup meeting at the same time every morning, where we share what we’re working on and just generally check in and see everyone’s faces. It’s been a great way to stay connected and keep everything charging forward on the same path.

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