We bring to you the latest edition of News Roundup: Indian Startup Stories Of The Week!
This week, Inc42 launched a #StartupVsCovid19 platform through which founders and startup ecosystem stakeholders can reach out to experts to find answers or solutions to problems and questions thrown up by the coronavirus pandemic.
Coronavirus & Startups: The Ecosystem Pitches In
At the same time, there are several funds and hackathons being set up to support the solutions for coronavirus. For instance, AngelList India has committed to invest INR 50 Lakh into the startups that are working on possible solutions related to coronavirus. Also, cab aggregator Ola has set up a fund for drivers who are unable to work during the lockdown.
To support simpler deliveries amid lockdown, drone solution startup FlytBase will be helping the police manage lockdowns, provide situational awareness to first responders or supply medicines to last-mile clinics and hospitals.
Also, Goa and Puducherry are now using an app developed by Delhi NCR-based healthtech company Innovaccer to help citizens carry out self-assessment tests for Covid-19. It assists users to take the next step accordingly without having to physically visit a healthcare facility.
Fearing the losses, the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) wrote a letter to the ministry of finance seeking a financial bailout package from the government for the food services sector. However, finance minister Nirmala Sitharman has come out with a relief package of INR 170K Cr to help mitigate the negative impact on agriculture and farmers.
However, there were no direct measures announced by the finance minister to revive the economy during the media briefing or to support the impacted SMEs and startups in India.
Ola Waives Off Lease Rentals, Plans Interest-Free Short-Term Loans
Ola has asked the government to provide interest-free, short-term loans to the driver-partners associated with the company as well as for its rival Uber. This will help drivers meet their working capital needs. Furthermore, Ola has fully waived lease rentals, akin to an EMI, for driver-partners who operate vehicles of Ola Fleet Technologies. The company also said that driver-partners who are currently in distress due to the temporary lockdowns will stand to benefit.
Zomato Comes Forward To Support Daily Wagers
Food delivery unicorn Zomato has come forward to help those in need. Zomato’s non-profit wing Feeding India, which it acquired in 2019 has launched a new campaign called ‘Feed the Daily Wager.’ Under which, Zomato will be distributing ration kits containing wheat flour or rice, two types of pulses and a bar of soap, which should last a family of five for an entire week.
The founder and CEO of Zomato, Deepinder Goyal said that the company has managed to collect INR 1.5 Cr within 17 hours in support of the initiative. In the coming months, it is looking to raise another INR 25 Cr for the fund. Also, in a series of tweets, Goyal announced special loans for food delivery restaurant partners as well as a dedicated fund to cover up the lost earnings for thousands of delivery partners.
OYO Reveals Extent Of Covid-19 Impact On Delayed Payments
Hospitality unicorn OYO said that the restrictions have impacted its revenues, operations and cash flows ‘significantly’. As a result, the company has told its partner hotels that there may be possible disruptions in payment cycles. An OYO spokesperson has reportedly confirmed this and said that the company sees challenges in the hospitality and travel industry in the near future.
RBI Defers EMIs For Personal And Business Loans
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has announced a three-month moratorium on term loans taken by corporate and individuals, including corporate loans, home loans and car loans among others. It has to be noted that the RBI has not included credit card owners in this relief scheme, and they will need to pay their dues on time as RBI doesn’t consider this a term loan.
FM Sitharaman Eases Regulatory And Financial Norms For Businesses
FM Sitharaman announced that the government has increased the threshold for default from existing INR 1 Lakh to INR 1 Cr, followed by extension of filing income tax returns from March 31 to June 30, 2020, and Aadhar-Pan card linking has been moved to June end among others.
Amid Coronavirus Crisis, Wealth Management Startups Gains Traction
The Indian equity markets have been experiencing extreme instability in the last few weeks as well as a similar trend is visible in the global markets. As a result, wealth management startups have seen increasing traction in the recent few weeks. For instance, ETMoney claims to have the highest monthly gross sale in March 2020 since its inception.
BigBasket Starts Operations, But Will First Focus On Delayed Orders
The grocery startup BigBasket recently announced that it is finally operational in all its cities, and said that it will be focusing on delivering delayed orders, before accepting new orders. In addition to this, the company also said it will be focusing on bringing back its on-field workforce including delivery executives, pickers and packers among others.
Prior to this, it had sought help from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and state governments to bring clearer directives for law enforcement agencies to restart their operations amid the nation-wide lockdown, as several online delivery companies had reported that law enforcement agencies were harassing delivery-partners which was leading to the cancellation of lakhs of orders.
Amazon Shifts Focus To Essentials, Flipkart Suspends Operations
The ecommerce giant Amazon has temporarily suspended all its operations of non-essential goods and has decided to provide services in delivering essential supplies to its customers. Amazon said that it is getting increased demand for grocery products and the company is realigning its operations to deliver products such as household staples, packaged food, healthcare, hygiene products, personal safety and other priority products.
Flipkart, on the other hand, had announced to remain non-operational till the time of lockdown. However, soon the ecommerce company decided to restart its grocery delivery services called Supermart, where it will be offering food and other essentials in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi.
Ninjacart To Deliver Groceries At Customers’ DoorStep
The B2B grocery delivery platform Ninjacart has partnered with societies and apartment communities to directly deliver groceries at customers’ doorstep. The director of business strategy at Ninjacart, Ben Mathew, told Inc42 that the company will be implementing a single point of contact for delivering the products required by the society members amid the lockdown. Interestingly, the facility is expected to help people who do not place the online orders. The company said that it has started registering societies from Bengaluru, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Pune.
Netflix, YouTube Asked To Reduce Streaming Quality
The cellular operators association of India (COAI) has asked the OTT platforms, social media platforms, and video streaming services such as Netflix, YouTube, Facebook and TikTok to reduce the quality of the videos from high definition (HD) and ultra high definition (UHD) to standard definition (SD) streaming.
Google Commits $800 Mn Covid-19 Fund To Help SMEs, Healthcare
Tech giant Google recently announced to spend over $800 Mn to support some of the challenges faced by businesses in the times of the coronavirus crisis. Google’s parent company Alphabet’s CEO Sundar Pichai said that the fund will help small and medium enterprises (SMEs), health organisations, governments and health workers, who are on the frontline of this global pandemic. In addition to this, the company will be investing $200 Mn to support NGOs and financial institutions around the world to offer SMEs with access to capital in these crucial times.
WHO Leverages WhatsApp, Facebook To Set Up Health Alert For Public
The World Health Organisation recently launched a new machine learning platform called WHO Health in collaboration with WhatsApp and Facebook. The app was developed by Praekelt.Org. WHO said that this platform has the potential to reach 2 Bn people and enables them to provide information directly into the hands of the people that need it. The users can reach out the number and type ‘Hi’ to start a conversation, prompting a menu of options that can help answer their questions about coronavirus.
Stay tuned for the next edition of Roundup!