Covid19 Tech Impact
Latest updates & innovations, in-depth resources, live webinars and guides to help businesses navigate through the impact of the COVID19 pandemic on India's economy.
In efforts to highlight how Indian startups are navigating the post-pandemic business world, Inc42 has started an “Ask Me Anything” series bringing some of the prominent investors and entrepreneurs to answer the most pressing questions of the day.
Cofounder and CEO of 1mg, Prashant Tandon was the latest entrepreneur to join our AMAs. In an hour-long session, Tandon touched upon the surge in the demand for an online healthcare marketplace, new opportunities that might arise after the lockdown ends, funding opportunities in the healthtech space and more. He also highlighted that recognition of telemedicine as an essential service by the Prime Minister had brought in a massive shift for healthtech companies.
“We have had a lot of regulatory questions for a long time now, suddenly we found ourselves become an essential service. That was a big regulatory change for the industry,” he said.
While healthtech gains prominence, other startups are working on stretching their runway amid slowdown of the business. Bengaluru-based budget hotel chain Treebo asked its employees to take voluntary resignations as the company is trying to cut costs.
Healthtech Platforms Rise To Prominence
Yuvraj Singh-backed diagnostics and wellness startup Healthians has resumed its doorstep health test services. The company has announced that it will not charge for sample collections from home. Its services are available in over 35 Indian cities, including Delhi NCR, Sonipat, Meerut, Lucknow, Kanpur, Jaipur, Panipat, Ambala, Karnal, Mohali, Panchkula, Chandigarh, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Amritsar.
Meanwhile, Gurugram-based healthtech startup Meddo has started accepting online booking for Covid-19 tests in Delhi NCR. The company has partnered with ICMR-authorised labs to collect samples. Users can simply book their Covid-19 tests on Meddo’s websites for INR 4.5K, which is the price mandated by the government.
Hospitality unicorn OYO has come up with a crowdfunding campaign “Donate a Night” to allow users to pay for one night’s accommodation for people who need it the most — medical staff, emergency service personnel, police personnel and low-income individuals like those stranded due to the lockdown.
Ecommerce, Groceries Optimise Even Further
In order to effectively manage the hike in online ordering and keep their delivery partners safe, ecommerce platforms are coming up with different strategies to keep the supply up and running. For instance, Amazon India has decided to limit its online deliveries to only certain days for areas that have seen a higher number of positive cases.
Flipkart, on the other hand, has partnered with cab-hailing service Uber to strengthen its logistics support in Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi. This partnership will keep vital supply chains running and address the growing needs of consumers to receive essential goods at their doorsteps. Similarly, bike taxi startup Rapido partnered with Big Basket, Big Bazaar and Spencer’s Retail to aid last-mile deliveries.
Meanwhile, the grocery delivery platform BigBasket has been encouraging its users to merge their orders with their neighbours so that more goods can be delivered in the same slot for the same location. While old players are optimising their services, younger players like Swiggy have been focusing on expanding its market.
For now, Swiggy has listed supermarket stores like Vishal Mega Mart on its platform to supply groceries and other daily essentials. The company is only allowing 12 Kgs of products per order to prevent hoarding of groceries.
While all of this is happening, social ecommerce company DealShare has launched a DealShare Essentials Allotment Scheme (DEALS) to distribute 15 necessary items to the underprivileged households across Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Maharashtra. Gurugram-based home services startup Urban Company, which was previously known as UrbanClap, has also resumed its essential services in Gurugram, Noida, and Faridabad.
Govt Backs More Tech Solutions
To keep a check on citizens dodging the government’s guidelines to stay in, the government of Gujarat has deployed at least eight drones. So far, the police has tracked and arrested around 48 people for violating lockdown rules.
Meanwhile, the Indian government is looking at the larger picture to develop effective healthcare and healthtech solutions in case the situation was to get worse. The government has set up a committee, chaired by NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, to collaborate with private companies and startups. The government has invited eight startups to be a part of the initiative.
Twelve industry leaders from the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), six CEOs from Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) industry partners, 14 CEOs of top tech-based companies from NASSCOM are also participating to develop simple and effective solutions to boost the Indian healthcare system.
The government has also announced the formation of a National Covid19 Action Group, which comprises 14 members of parliament (MP), partners from top venture capital fund, health and public policy organisations. With this, the government is looking to motivate and mobilise capable teams across the country to come up with their concrete and scalable solutions towards the challenges in public health, economy, livelihoods, and other important areas.
Besides this, the government has reportedly set up another committee to improve the security capabilities of its Aarogya Setu app to keep users’ data safe. For this, the committee has also reached out to Mahindra & Mahindra chairman Anand Mahindra and Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran for solutions.
Meanwhile, even the Telangana government can adopt a Covid–19 Monitoring System App developed by Vera Smart Healthcare to surveil, monitor, track and monitor the coronavirus situation in the state. The platform allows telecallers to handle over 50 Lakh calls or chatbot conversations per month. Besides this, it also traces and geotags suspected cases across hotspots, covering over 33 districts in the state.
Challenges Amidst Coronavirus
The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) on behalf of the Online Travel Aggregators (OTAs) and the other travel tech services have raised their voices against the ‘force majeure’ proposal for the airlines.
The organisations believe that if the airlines are allowed to not pay back the refunds to the customers for cancelled flights, then it will end up creating “significant downstream disruptions in the travel and tourism sector. Such a move may allow airlines to come out stronger but at the cost of destroying the downstream ecosystem affecting the livelihoods of millions.”
Meanwhile, offline stores — Spencer’s Retail, EasyDay, Nature’s Basket, Grofers, Reliance Retail, and kirana stores — have decided to put a cap on the essential items being purchased by the customers in the anticipation that the lockdown may get extended. Tech-enabled logistics aggregator Shiprocket has also started providing its services to sellers, which will allow them to leverage its network and facilitate seamless delivery of essential goods to customers.