PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — For many businesses struggling during the coronavirus pandemic, a crucial facet of survival is finding new ways to bring in money.
Some tech-savvy Temple University students in the Institute for Business and Information Technology are helping small businesses and nonprofits pivot to a new and improved online presence. They created websites and e-commerce stores for them — for free.
Many of the brick-and-mortar businesses that received help are now reporting a big boost in sales.
Kunal Duggal, a 21-year-old management information systems senior, has worked on several of the projects since March. He enjoys teaching his tech-timid clients to embrace technology.
“The best thing to see was after we were done working with the clients, my favorite part was hearing them say, ‘Oh, I’m not nervous anymore.’ They would say, ‘I’m so excited, I feel like I’m ready to get started,’ and that is the best feeling,” he said, “because now it’s like they’re not scared of this technology — which they shouldn’t be scared of in the first place. Really once you know how to use it, it’s really not that bad. It’s just getting into the habit of using it.”
In addition to e-commerce storefronts, the Temple students redesigned and relaunched websites for nonprofits, like the Jazz Bridge Project.
“It was pretty seamless,” said Executive Director Joseph L. Lewis III. “Our website was pretty old and because we are a small arts service organization, we really didn’t have the capacity to spend the money on redesigning our website.
“Our mission is to help jazz artists in need, in crisis, and their design is helping us do a better job of that.”
About 50 area small businesses and nonprofits — including a bakery, a gift and fashion boutique, a salon, a yoga studio, and a trucking business — have received free digital transformations so far.
“Everything was turned upside down,” Duggal added, “but … now after lockdown is over and people can go back into the shop, they still have this store to leverage and use, so that was also great — seeing them turn this bad situation into an opportunity.”