Startups are Fighting Crisis with Innovation
India ranks 136 on 'starting a business' in the World Bank's ease of doing business table against an overall rank of 63. The country's start-up sector has been hit hard due to disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown. As per Nasscom, 40 percent of startups have either temporarily halted operations or are in the process of shutting down, with around 70 per cent having cash reserves to last less than three months. While some of the sectors like logistics, edtech, e-grocery, and consumer goods are thriving, there is a dire need for others to well prepare for the worst times or at least find ways to combat the unprecedented crisis.
Converting Challenges into Opportunities
Every crisis brings with it some unseen opportunities and also tests the limits of our resilience. Start-ups at this moment have a plethora of options to innovate, chart out organization gaols, upgrade and refine their systems and do some training internally in those areas that need to be cross trained on. The way in which they do business will likely change in the months ahead, but if entrepreneurs look for a way to stay
Right now, more than 600 Indian start-ups are involved in creating solutions that will help people to survive and cope with the pandemic and its impact on day-to-day life. Many of the start-ups that have already grabbed this opportunity to leave a mark.
For example - Innovaccer, a health-tech startup, in collaboration with the Goa government, is helping people perform self-assessment test while another group is developing quarantine apps and heat maps to timely report symptoms. Another Pune-based molecular diagnostics startup, Mylab is working on a low-cost PCR kit that can speed up the detection.
GoFrugal, a Chennai-based SaaS company promoted by Kumar Vembu, has decided to help kirana stores. Vembu says, “As the country battles Covid-19, neighbourhood stores have emerged true heroes by being there for consumers during the crisis. To stand by them, we are offering free subscription of our bundled solutions till September 30.” These will help set up online ordering and a delivery management app. With OrderEasy, retailers can set up an exclusive branded Android app. Orders are automatically processed, making it easier for retailers to measure and improve service capability.
Talking of innovation, Asimov Robotics, a start-up based in Kerala, has deployed robots at entrances to office buildings and other public places to dispense hand sanitiser and deliver public health messages about the virus. Robots developed by Asimov Robotics are also being deployed in hospital isolation wards to carry food and medicines, which eases the pressure on medical staff.
Bengaluru-based MyGate, a platform that provides security management services for gated communities has collaborated with Grofers and ITC and partnered with Swiggy, Zomato, Dunzo and Licious to offer contactless deliveries. It has also tied up with telemedicine companies to provide free consultation from home.
The Brighter Side
More than 1000+ ready-to-deploy innovative solutions have been received from the Indian startup community for consideration. These are currently being evaluated and tested by a network of national experts identified by the COVID-19 startup solutions GoI task force and its industry partners. Further, to support and strengthen start-ups, the Government has set up a ‘Business Immunity Platform’ on StartupIndia portal. This portal and associated services can be tapped by the start-ups to continue their operations in a sustainable manner over the next several months. Many national institutions, MSME and industry partners, including Nasscom, CII, TiE are already in discussions with the various empowered committees to extend their support in multiple areas.