Online Boom – Kiwi businesses that have benefitted


  • PM Jacinda Ardern imposed strict lockdown measures at the onset of the pandemic, which led to an online boom in the country.
  • Fitness tracker app My Virtual Mission's revenue boosts during the COVID-19 restrictions.
  • The gaming industry has grown amid surging demand during the pandemic.
  • Virtual cycling platform Zwift that combines gaming with fitness has gained popularity in NZ.
  • Technology, innovation, along with out of the box thinking, are expected to shape NZ's future.

The first part of the year unveiled the most devastating crisis in the history that originated from China's Wuhan city and gripped the whole world within a couple of months. A new virus infection knocked the lives of people and government and medical fraternity had no available solutions.

The governments of all the affected nations ordered strict lockdowns in their respective countries to put a speed breaker to the relentless spread of the virus. It helped nations, and especially NZ, to control the spread effectively and attracted the world praise for doing so.

That said, while the spread could be controlled, and it helped save many lives, but the restriction measures took a toll on the worldwide economies. Due to social distancing and lockdown measures, businesses shut down, and several kiwis lost their jobs. Now the government is investing through budget 2020 to create more and more jobs for kiwis.

The lockdown scenario forced people to depend more on the online mode for shopping, education, working, and meetings. So, when at one hand, businesses were suffering due to lockdown, NZ also witnessed an online boom.

Kiwi's start-up app My Virtual Mission's revenue boosts

One of the prominent names among companies that grew due to the pandemic-forced online surge is the company - My Virtual Mission. As per the founder Adam El-Agez, the start-up generated a whopping revenue in April, which was almost equivalent to all revenue the company made in the last 12 months before April 2020.

The founder has not revealed the exact revenue the company generated during last month, but he has hired his first employee and now ready to onboard two more employees in the start-up. The mobile fitness app tracks the fitness goals selected by users. The app allows users to take up different fitness challenges like cover the length of physical places virtually like North Island, the Inca Trail or Route 66.

So, My Virtual Mission app allows the users to pick missions, and it tracks the users' journey and shows them where they are with a virtual street view. The Tauranga-based company's app is free to download, and it generates revenue from corporates and users who buy challenges.

The disruptive crisis has, on the one hand, closed fitness centres and gyms around the world and on the other hand, boosted the use of an innovative app like My Virtual Mission as more people are looking for creative ways to keep themselves fit during COVID-19 restrictions. If we compare with last year, in April 2019 only 120 people per day used to sign up for the app, however now it has increased to 1,165 people per day. Not only that, during the lockdown, it also got a major client, Prudential, which is using the app for a corporate wellness challenge in its UK events team.

The founder El-Agez was a PE teacher who used a treadmill to complete 10-kilometre run, and he decided to track his progress by replicating that online. It is how he started the app. The fitness app records tracks and challenges, but it doesn't record the distance, it can be added either by users themselves or linked to another fitness tracking app that measures the distance.

El-Agez says that it is a deliberate decision that the app does not track distance. Instead, the company earns through selling challenges, and once the user achieves the challenge, the company sends a medal of achievement to them.

Gaming industry booming during the pandemic crisis

As per Futuresource Consulting's Global Gaming Hardware report, the gaming industry will continue to grow in 2020. The report also suggested that the pandemic-related lockdowns will make more people involved in gaming through smartphones, and combined with upgrades to dedicated gaming hardware, will all contribute to the expansion of gaming industry share in the entertainment market.

The game featuring a social element has been more popular in the western market during the lockdown. Call of Duty Warzone has experienced robust success. It reached 50 million active users in just a month since release. As per the consulting firm, now gaming is not limited to kids, more and more retired people are entering the game zone.

During the stay-at-home phase, gaming has given people a way to distract themselves without going out.

The popularity of Zwift, a virtual cycling platform surges during the lockdown

As people crave for entertainment during the COVID-19 restrictions, platforms like Zwift are getting popular as they combine the gaming fun with fitness.

The platform is for both professional and amateur cyclists. Zwift has become a popular platform and is being used by NZ cyclists Ella Harris and Greg Henderson. It came in the NZ market in the year 2015 and now has more than 17,000 users.

Similarly, the Pokémon Go mobile game encourages people to go outdoor and exercise by walking in the real world. The game captures their favourite Pokémon's at public spaces and different landmarks. A report published in 2018 by the American Psychiatric Association included reports of young people talking about the benefits of using Pokémon Go.

Technology, innovation can drive NZ's future

Any challenges call for innovative solutions rather than being puzzled about what to do next. To keep moving during the crisis, one needs new solutions. The answers are usually simple; one just needs to search for them by thinking out of the box as Matt Brooks got a hit solution for his barbershop - virtual queueing technology.

When the pandemic enforced a 2-metre distance, and people got frustrated waiting too long at his barbershop, Mr Brooks came up with the niche technology of queueing-virtually which became mainstream. He has been approached by various sectors for implementing this solution.

As per the experts, the tech and film industries have great potential to grow in New Zealand and attract entrepreneurs and investors to the country. The crisis has given a big push to the tech industry worldwide as unprecedented challenges can only be overcome using technology.

The online boom is here to stay as people are coming out, but with the restrictions of social distancing likely to continue, it will make the online mode more and more necessary in kiwis' lives.

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