Together we can: Startups across India team up to wage war on coronavirus
Cutting across company lines, founders and entrepreneurs are taking the fight to coronavirus
The coronavirus pandemic will have lasting effects on the global economy, with the total losses estimated to mount to $1 trillion. Like the rest of the world, India is witnessing COVID-19’s ripple effects across industries, corporates, venture capital firms, startups, and the white- and blue-collar sectors.
Cutting across company line, founders and stakeholders of the startup ecosystem have come together and are working almost 20 hours a day to help stem losses and turn the tide.
Going beyond geographical boundaries, Indian startup founders, including Mekin, Alok Mittal, Co-founder and CEO of Indifi; Mayank Bidawatka, Co-founder of Vokal; and many others from the government and student communities have come together to find technological solutions to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.
The collaboration, tentatively titled Startups against Coronavirus or Startups versus Coronavirus, began as a WhatsApp group mid-March where startup techies came up with innovative ideas.
Now, with almost 750 members, the group is trying to increase awareness, help the government monitor the population, and find solutions. According to reports, the group now also includes founders of Bounce, Homelane, Cred, Urban Company, BlackBuck, MyGate, 1mg, and MapMyIndia. Venture capitalists such as Matrix Partners, Stellaris Venture Partners, and others are also keen to help innovators with finance.
Innovating to solve problems
Speaking to Shradha Sharma, CEO and Founder, YourStory, Subhadeep Mondal, Co-founder of PregBuddy said the group had already launched a telemedicine service as they wanted to ensure that anybody across India should be able to call up a certain number, get “tele-screened” for COVID-19, and connect with a doctor for detailed instructions.
Subhadeep explained that the objective of this telemedicine service was also to make data available to the government about people showing symptoms or those infected with COVID-19. This would ensure safe pickups and help the governments identify hotspots - across Karnataka initially, and across the country gradually.
Aditya Kothari, Co-founder and CEO of Plixr Technologies, revealed that the team was trying to increase awareness in Tier II and III cities, especially among those without access to credible information and who did not have the privilege to be home quarantined.
“We are tying up with doctors and asking them to make 60-120-second videos of every aspect of particular disease so we can reach out to the masses,” Aditya said.
Citing an example, he explained that anyone could walk up to a street vendor and explain about COVID-19, but the vendor is sure to take the instructions more seriously when delivered by a doctor via a video on WhatsApp.
The initiative is also being used to tackle the spread of misinformation. The team is asking doctors to make videos and creatives on information that is not true and help bust myths.
The focus areas
According to Radha Sawana, Lead, Strategy and New Initiatives at Udhyam Learning Foundation, the group has four broad focus areas and 20 different teams working across these areas.
The team has now started helping governments increase the efficacy of the lockdown by providing dashboards for better monitoring.
The collaborative is also focusing on ways to scale up testing – one of the main problems that India is facing. The third focus is to equip hospitals and the healthcare sector to deal with Stage 3 of the COVID -19 pandemic. The fourth is to make essentials such as masks, gloves, and sanitisers available for doctors and healthcare professionals.