Nestled in the Silicon Valley Economic Region, Pleasanton-based, Medea, Inc. has become somewhat of an anomaly among other small businesses. The ongoing impact of Covid-19 has, at a minimum, temporarily closed or worse, shuttered numerous small businesses. However, small businesses can also be more agile and with some resources and creative thinking, can reinvent themselves and become transformers.
What characterizes the small businesses that have survived by pivoting their business models? Adaptability, innovation and flexibility to create strategies that move the business forward.
The key to healthy survival in the case of Medea, Inc. during these uncertain times was found by transitioning its core business from the focus of a consumer packaged goods company to that of a producer of PPE.
Medea is a small technology company. In 2015, Medea introduced its namesake vodka with the world’s first personally-programmable bottle. The ability to create any message on a smartphone and transmit it via Bluetooth, to a product wowed consumers and launched the Company’s early success. Subsequent variations included the use of the technology on vases and wearables.
When asked how the Company transitioned to the production of PPE, Brandon Laidlaw, CEO of Medea, relayed the following: “We had to innovate and analyze our business from all angles. Other companies were starting to use their distilleries to make hand sanitizer. That wasn’t possible for us because our distillery is in the Netherlands. However, our products are created in Asia. Recruiting our manufacturers to pivot from our core business to the production of PPE, was a viable option worth taking.”
In March, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued a solicitation to businesses large and small, to assist in the production of much-needed PPE. Medea responded and was awarded one of the many contracts FEMA issued to supply our nation’s stockpile. Thus, began a new direction and growth period for the Company.
“It’s been an arduous effort and we worked tirelessly to successfully fulfill the FEMA contract. We created a new division, Medea Medical Products. We are now actively engaged in offering potentially life-saving PPE to the private sector.” Laidlaw added.
While the negative economic impact on the small business community cannot be underestimated, the pandemic for all its tragedy, inspired a new wave of creativity across a wide variety of industries. Individuals and companies found a renewed calling to give back to those who are less fortunate. Medea, too, was able to use its contacts locally, and across the country, to share its new product line with the less fortunate.
Doing good while doing well is an added benefit derived from Medea’s transition. “We believe it’s imperative to give back, especially in times of crises. Tens of thousands of masks have been donated to food banks, homeless shelters and law enforcement thanks to our Friends of Medea sports network. This includes the NHL Alumni Association – the charitable arm of the NHL. Through its members such as Kelly Chase, Roman Josi, Brenden Dillon, Matt Irwin and Justin Braun, we have distributed PPE to homeless shelters, food assistance programs and frontline workers, among others, in cities across America. And, through Shaquille O’Neal, we were able to donate to the Broward County Sheriff’s Department.” Laidlaw shared.
The Company’s experience and contacts as a wholesaler and importer provided the basis for optimism at a time when other businesses were navigating rougher seas. As the saying goes, sometimes it’s easier to turn around a small boat than a large ship.