COVID-19: Four Virgin StartUp companies making a difference

A meal from Planty
Image from Planty
Kami White
by Kami White
30 March 2020

Following the outbreak of coronavirus, Virgin StartUp remain committed to supporting founders during this difficult time, whilst also making the health and wellbeing of their community and the Virgin StartUp team a top priority. Several Virgin StartUp companies are shifting their business models to leave a positive impact and adapt to uncertain times. Here are four examples.

Nourishing the community with The Plattery

The Plattery is a bespoke catering company that combines high-quality produce with imaginative floristry to create grazing tables, platters and picnic boxes for orders in the UK. The business was founded by London-based chef Ayesha Pakravan with initial funding from VirginStartUp. 

Following the government’s social distancing and self-isolation measures, The Plattery has stopped all events catering and is instead providing free food to those who are struggling to feed themselves – whether they are elderly, vulnerable or busy at work with the NHS.

A charcuterie created by The Plattery
Image from The Plattery

In less than a week, Ayesha has cooked and delivered over 100 meals to people in need. Demand is increasing by the day and she is determined to help as many people as possible during this difficult time. The Plattery is also sourcing produce for the meals from local shops, restaurants, pubs and cafes with excess stock – to support these businesses and minimise food waste.

Ayesha originally funded the initiative directly from her own pocket and with 10 per cent of The Plattery’s February’s profits. However, she is now raising funds online to keep the service going and has raised over £4000 to date. You can support the initiative right here.

Staying #LoyalToLocal businesses with Minor Figures

Minor Figures is an alternative milk brand that supplies 100 per cent plant-based and sugar free products - such as oat milk, nitro cold brews, liquid chai concentrate, espresso beans and more. After receiving funding from Virgin StartUp, Minor Figures products are now stocked on the shelves of major global brands and coffee shops all over the world. 

A glass with cold brew coffee in, next to a can of Minor Figures cold brew coffee
Minor Figures

The team are committed to supporting their stockists and the independent coffee shops who are being hit hard by the financial impacts of COVID-19. They’ve launched a #LocalToLoyal campaign to lend a hand in the following ways:

  • For every online order, Minor Figures will give five per cent of the sale to your coffee shop of choice. Just write the name and address of your chosen coffee shop in the box shown on the ‘cart’ page of the check-out process.

  • The team created a COVID-19 Impact Survey to better understand how the industry is being affected and make sure help is delivered where it is needed most. They’ve published the results from the first survey and plan to run more in the coming weeks. Keep an eye on their social media channels.

  • Minor Figures have also a guide which lists the financial support available for small business in the UK and Australia.

  • To further support cafes through this difficult period, the team have launched FREEDAYS, where people can pick up a free Minor Figures Oat M*lk coffee from participating cafes and Minor Figures will pick up the bill. Note: the initiative is only available in parts of the world where it is safe to do so and details will be shared across their social channels.

Train the brain with Pub Hero

One of Virgin StartUp’s very own business advisors, Ben Keene, has embraced the lean-start up techniques that he delivers to the Virgin StartUp’s community and put them to use by launching Pub Hero. To help with the economic shock that pubs are experiencing in the wake of CoVid-19, Ben created a digital platform where people can come together, represent their local pub in a daily quiz and donate any winnings to their favourite establishment.

Ben is also the founder of Rebel Book Club and has turned its monthly gathering into a digital one. Further still, Ben has launched a 14 day reading challenge to build a sense of community and inspire people while they’re stuck at home.

Feeding the frontline with Planty

Planty is a UK based food subscription service that delivers nutritious, chef-prepared and plant-based meals to your door – in fully recyclable packaging.

24-year-old Andrea Cavallo launched Planty in the summer of 2019 and became the 3,000th business to be supported by Virgin StartUp.

The Planty team
Image from Planty

To support the frontline healthcare workers that are struggling to find the time to cook and source groceries, Planty have offered a 40 per cent discount for NHS staff on all of their orders. To receive the discount, e-mail the team with your NHS email at and they’ll send you the discount code.

These are just four Virgin StartUp companies among many who are using their resources to create a social impact and support their communities.

Visit Virgin StartUp to find out more.