Keith Rumjahn, CEO and co-founder of digital fitness company OliveX, and Elizabeth Chu, chairman of restaurant operator ZS Hospitality Group, go head-to-head in this month’s great debate

Has the pandemic created opportunities for entrepreneurs?

Keith Rumjahn: YES

“It has created starting blocks because a lot of successful companies are born during a downturn. The pandemic accelerated the adoption of technology across all sectors by ten years. In fitness, it increased the adoption of hybrid workouts. Gym membership sign-ups are at an all-time high due to the rebound post-Covid-19. But what’s interesting is that in-person attendance is at an all-time low. People want the idea of a gym, but are also mixing it up with at-home workouts. So there are a lot of changes globally across all sectors—and where there is change, there is opportunity.

Entrepreneurship is about assembling a great team. The pandemic has forced people to reassess their relationship with their job, and now, top talent may be more willing to join your cause if it aligns with their principles. The pandemic is tough, no doubt, but those who can capitalise on this will come out stronger.”

Elizabeth Chu: NO

“The food and beverage industry has arguably been among the hardest hit during the pandemic owing to recurring lockdowns and ever-changing social distancing regulations. I am grateful to have an amazing team which has shown resilience over the past few years and helped adopt new strategies, such as food delivery, to sustain business. During the dine-in ban, our business suffered a near 50 per cent drop in revenue. We had a hard time retaining employees and keeping the business afloat. It has been more difficult to attract and retain talent because people are hesitant to enter and stay in the industry due to unstable market conditions. The city’s inbound visitor volume has also been significantly affected by the travel restrictions. We’ve lost the support of overseas as well as mainland Chinese visitors, so our clientele is now confined mainly to local customers. Together we have strived to evolve, come up with innovations and improve at all times, but the pandemic has made it extremely challenging to do so.”

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