We bring to you the latest edition of News Roundup: Indian Startup Stories Of The Week!
This week, the Indian startup ecosystem’s prominent venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and industry experts have set up the Action Covid-19 Team (ACT). Through this, the team will be closely working with central and state governments, hospitals and other industry stakeholders to speed up the development of innovative ideas and deploy products and solutions to tackle coronavirus outbreak.
The team has set up an INR 100 Cr ACT Fund, which will invest in startups, NGOs and entrepreneurs that are working to solve the major Covid-19 challenges. The ACT Grants will be led by India head of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Nachiket Mor.
Startups Await Govt Ammunition To Tackle Coronavirus
The startup community recently wrote a letter to the finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman stating that the pandemic will destroy their business and future potential of the startup ecosystem in the coming months. “Without the package, all the collective efforts of the past few years will go in vain,” startups founders said.
POSist’s founder Ashish Tulsian recently on Inc42’s #StartupsVsCovid19 ‘Ask Me Anything’ series stressed upon the importance of empathy to businesses in terms of having difficult conversations with employees, customers and clients in the times of crisis. He said that everyone is in this together and will understand the situation.
He also urged startups to be prepared with a contingency plan for the unforeseeable future as this helps them stay ahead of the curve to sustain their business in the long run and survive this pandemic.
Further, amid Covid-19 fake news circulating across the country, the Indian government in response to the Supreme Court’s directives has decided to set up a fact checking-portal for people to verify the information and unverified news. It further urged the states and union territories to create a similar mechanism at their level to curb the spread of fake news.
To counter shortage of testing kits and ventilators across the country, several state governments, including Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra have come forward to increase testing of suspected Covid-19 cases by relying more on private companies and startups.
Just like many businesses, the Narendra Modi government is counting on tech to manage its operations from remote locations. The government will be using collaborative tools developed by Microsoft and Cisco for sharing non-critical information. The tech companies are providing helpful tools free of cost to help the government effectively manage various departments at the time of Covid-19.
OYO Suspends Payments To Hotel Partners To Mitigate Revenue Impact
The hospitality unicorn OYO has decided to suspend the payments of hotel partners by invoking ‘force majeure’ clauses from the agreement. It said that the revenues of hotels have dwindled and are unlikely to improve in the next few months. Accordingly, OYO will be paying a minimum guaranteed sum which is independent of the revenue generated by the hotels and has suspended any other amounts payable to hotels.
At the same time, OYO has announced setting up a fund for hotels and employees impacted due to coronavirus. Further, OYO founder and chief executive Ritesh Agarwal has foregone the salary for one year.
Paytm Offers Hotels To Healthcare Professionals
Paytm has partnered with more than 300 hotels, including OYO, Treebo and Ginger Hotels among others in 60 cities to offer temporary accommodation for the medical practitioners on the frontline. The company is in talks with other hotel chains to bring more properties on board. This feature is available under #WeSaluteYouAll tag on Paytm app, which allows medical practitioners to search and book a room in hotels located near the hospitals, clinics and other medical facilities.
Zomato Launches Zomato Market For Grocery Delivery
The foodtech unicorn Zomato has now added grocery delivery services on its platform via Zomato Market. The company will now be offering its contactless delivery option in line with the social distancing and hygiene protocols by the world health organisation. Further, Zomato has set up a Zomato Gold Support Fund and all the money raised by the company by selling its Gold membership will be pooled in the fund.
UPI Takes A Hit In March As Lockdown Slows Growth
India’s unified payments interface (UPI) witnessed a 6% decline in transactions in March 2020. The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) in an update announced that UPI recorded 1.25 Bn transactions compared to 1.33 Bn in February 2020. Also, the value of transactions dropped from 2.22 Lakh Cr (February 2020) to 2.05 Lakh Cr in March 2020. The drop in transactions and value of transactions could be because of Covid-19 lockdown.
Fraudsters Try To Scam PM-Cares Donors With Fake UPI ID
After the announcement of the PM-Cares fund, a lot of fake UPI IDs began to circulate on social media to seek funds for this initiative. Anyesh Roy, DCP (Cybercrime) said in a tweet that the fake UPI [email protected] was created to confuse users as it is very similar to the correct UPI ID [email protected] State Bank of India was notified about the fake ID and it has blocked the account. The matter is under investigation and efforts are being made to identify the fraudsters.
IndiaLends Founders Forgo Salary, Employees Take Salary Cuts
Gurugram-headquartered lending marketplace IndiaLends has asked some employees to opt for leave without pay and others to take steep pay cuts as it looks to navigate the current economic crisis caused by the pandemic and the lockdown.The founders said that they have already taken a 100% salary cut along with some people in the leadership team for the coming months.
Delays In Refunds For Non-Essential Products
Amid the 21-day-lockdown, several non-essential products were cancelled on ecommerce platforms such as Amazon and Flipkart. Amazon customers and sellers will have to wait until the company starts taking orders for non-essential products. Meanwhile, Flipkart customers, who were supposed to receive the payment on April 1, will have to wait for another week. At this moment, there’s no clarity on when deliveries of non-essential items will resume.
Indian Railways To Start Special Trains For Ecommerce Delivery
The ministry of Indian Railways recently announced an on-demand parcel service for ecommerce companies such as Amazon, Flipkart, BigBasket and more to ensure smooth and uninterrupted delivery of essential commodities in the market. Businesses looking for services can now reach out to railway officials at the zonal level.
Govt Imposes Equalisation Levy On Ecommerce, Ecommerce Policy & More
The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has raised concerns about equalisation levy put in place by the government for the new financial year as the dependency on the ecommerce industry increases amid the coronavirus pandemic. Under this, the ecommerce companies without a permanent establishment in India will have to pay an equalisation levy of 2%. This impacts ecommerce giants Amazon and Flipkart in India to a large extent.
Furthermore, the Indian government is also working on two major regulations — ecommerce policy and data protection bill. In addition to this, the ministry of consumer affairs has released ecommerce guidelines to protect consumers shopping online.
Disney+ Is Finally Here
After the delay in its official launch, Disney announced that starting from April 3, three distinct offerings, Disney+ Hotstar VIP, Disney+ Hotstar Premium and an freemium account will be available for the Indian audience, priced at INR 399 (earlier, INR 365) a year to INR 1499 (as compared to INR 999). The existing subscribers will be automatically upgraded to their respective new subscription plan and will be charged with the new rates upon renewal.
TikTok Will Donate INR 100 Cr Worth Of Medical Equipment
Bytedance-owned TikTok committed to donating INR 100 Cr worth of medical equipment to healthcare professionals in the country. The company will be providing 400K hazmat medical protective suits and 200K masks to doctors and other medical staff who are in contact with Covid-19 patients.
Spotify’s Music Library Expands After Signing Licensing Deal
Sweden-based Spotify has inked a fresh deal with Warner Music Group for the global licensing partnership. The platform will be offering Warner Music Group’s songs in many new countries, including India. Through this collaboration, the duo will be coming up with a lot of initiatives for Warner Music artists and songwriters.
Stay tuned for the next edition of Roundup!