Local entrepreneurs share success stories in spite of pandemic

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Studies show that through the course of the pandemic, entrepreneurship has had a major boom in the U.S. – more in the nation than any other advanced economy in the world.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Kentucky Small Business Development Center says they’ve had many new people asking to be mentored about how to start up a business.

At Western Kentucky University’s Research and Development Center, one entrepreneur’s business was turned to dust overnight during the pandemic.

Five years ago John Harnage began the Kentucky Thermal Institute. His thermal imaging thrived, used to scan roofs, electrical systems and moisture intrusions was a thriving system, until people began hoarding most of the country’s thermal imaging systems.

“My business plan did not include Covid in it,” said Harnage. “So, as an entrepreneur you’re always taught to write a business plan, to have an idea of where you’re going to go this year. That definitely changed in 2020.”

Harnage and his wife face a time with $0 flowing into their bank accounts.

But, he didn’t call it quits. He adapted his technology to work as a thermometer for the human body to test for high temperatures which could be a sign of COVID-19.

“As an entrepreneur, you learn to either pick yourself up and dust yourself off and keep on going, or you give up,” said Harnage. “Giving up is simply not some thing I was born to do or definitely not taught to do by my parents.”

Chris Boobayoung quit his full time job in February 2020, to focus on his new startup video company Forerunner. But, he, too, had to think on his feet when Covid started up .

“We were wanting to do a bunch of ads and music videos,” said Boobayoung. “Obviously none of that was created during that time. So, what we really shifted to was a lot of live streaming, educational stuff.”

And here to meet those educational video needs was a man one turn and two doors down the hallway from him in the WKU Research and Development Center, John Harnage.

“The pandemic hit him like it hit us,” Boobayoung said of his new friend. “It made us all pivot, so he started bringing ideas for this educational programming, and his new technology that was going to change the world and temperature scanning as we know it. So, man we were so excited to partner with him.”

The duo’s unexpected collaboration launched both of their businesses into new, unprecedented, waves of achievement.

Boobayoung said, “[Forerunner] found a way to surpass the challenges of Covid and continue to grow. In our second year now in 2021, we’ve doubled our business.”