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COVID-19 Reflection Blog: Phillip Cupp (IMBA student)

April 7, 2020 Jim Warner
Phillip Cupp UofL MBA Student

Phillip Cupp is a graduate student in the College of Business Innovation MBA. He is the founder and CEO of RIZIN Technologies.


Many of us had no idea the impact that COVID-19 would have upon our way of living in the 21st century. With most of my work already being remote, I miss many in-person interactions, but my work life has been relatively unchanged. However, many peripheral relationships have been significantly affected.

My wife works for a medical office, which has been deemed a non-essential medical service and had to figure out how to file for unemployment last week. The check still hasn’t come in yet, and we’re still navigating these uncharted waters. My brother also works in a medical office deemed non-essential and has taken a significant pay cut with his office being mandated to shut down. That same week, his wife went into labor, and they had their second baby girl, Emma. She is happy and healthy, but I can only imagine the anxiety of bringing a child into the world at this time, along with the financial burden it has placed on their family. My mother-in-law lost her job, and many friends have lost theirs as well. These personal examples pale in comparison to how COVID-19 has impacted others economically and the overwhelming medical challenges around the world.

Phillip’s niece: Emma

This is a unique and unfamiliar time for all of us. It is only natural to turn inward and hunker down during times of crisis, but we don’t have to live this way. This is an opportunity to look to the needs of others, along with remaining thankful and flexible as the environment continues to shift. Whether that’s preparing a meal for family members or friends who have lost their jobs or providing additional resources (childcare, financial support, etc.) to others, there are plenty of ways to look outside of yourself at this time. It’s encouraging to see the country rally together, and various companies alter supply chains to produce more ventilators and provide PPE as the virus continues to spread.

With my faith in Christ being central to who I am, hope radiates in this dark time:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:22-24)

Entrepreneurship Challenges

As the founder and CEO of RIZIN Technologies, a biotech startup utilizing hypersensitive breath analysis, COVID-19 has put a strain on our business for both my team but even more so on many within the entrepreneurial and small business community. After building momentum in competing in and winning at multiple business plan competitions, our team was shocked and elated that we got into the Rice Business Plan Competition: the Superbowl of MBA competitions. Then COVID-19 hit, and it felt like the wind behind our sails suddenly stopped. We were unable to attend a competition in Canada, and Rice has been postponed to June of this year.

As entrepreneurs, my team and I have remained flexible and adapted our business model in light of current events. Regardless of what happens, we are optimistic about our venture and know we will get through this together. Although we don’t know how long the tunnel is yet, there remains a light at the end of it.

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