In a bid to support India’s battle against the coronavirus, some of the most prominent venture capital funds, startups founders and advisors have come together to form the Action Covid-19 Team (ACT).
The ACT is looking to work with government and other stakeholders to ramp up the development of innovative ideas which have the potential to tackle major challenges that have come up with the coronavirus outbreak.
The ACT team is taking a slew of measures to tackle challenges. To start with, it has set up an INR 100 Cr ACT Fund which will invest in startups, non-profits, and entrepreneurs with an innovative idea. Any startup working on a scalable solution can send proposals through actgrants.in. India head of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Nachiket Mor is heading the leadership team for ACT Grants.
Lightspeed, Kalaari, SAIF Partners, India Quotient, Sequoia, Matrix, Omidyar Network India, Nexus, Accel, Chiratae, Blume Ventures are some of the venture capital firms which have extended their support to ACT.
OYO founder Ritesh Agarwal, Paytm founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Curefit cofounder Mukesh Bansal, UrbanClap cofounder Abhiraj Bhal, Cred founder Kunal Shah, Ritesh Malik of Innov8, Freshworks cofounder Girish Mathrubootham, Moglix cofounder and CEO Rahul Garg, Rebel Foods cofounder Jaydeep Barman, Dream11 founder Harsh Jain, Unacademy cofounder Roman Saini, BookMyShow founder Ashish Hemrajani, among others are working as part of the ACT.
Additionally, InfoEdge founder Sanjeev Bikchandani, Biocon MD Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Nova Speciality Hospitals’ Mahesh Reddy, and Infosys cofounder Nandan Nilekani have also joined the ACT.
ACT Fund To Scale Coronavirus Fighting Startups
The ACT is currently inviting startups to send ideas for consideration. Accel Partners’ Shekhar Kirani said that so far 40 proposals have come. A separate team of around 50 people are evaluating these ideas. Six members are managing the disbursal of the grant, with eight members are involved in fundraising, marketing, and administration.
Sequoia India’s managing director Mohit Bhatnagar said that the fund will invest in ideas that can curb the spread of coronavirus, ramp up diagnosis, facilitate disease management at home, enhance support for healthcare professionals, improve management and care of critically ill people, and support mental health cases.
So far, startups have already started to raise grants from these funds. Pune-based MyLab, which is in the headlines for making the first indigenous Covid-19 testing kit in India, has received a grant of INR 1 Cr from ACT. Besides the funds, ACT is also helping the company in solving their supply-chain issues.
Additionally, ACT is also providing monetary support to a ventilator manufacturing startup. Using these funds, the startup is looking to double its manufacturing capacities. Overall, the fund has invested around INR 2.5 Cr.
The team is working along with the government to help them with any technological solution which they might need in these times. It has also partnered with Startup India and Invest India to help them find suitable solutions for their problems.
Urban Company’s Bhal said the fund does not have a strict deadline. He added that it’ll be disbursed in the span of two to four months. “Initially, the fund will invest around INR 25 Lakh to INR 1 Cr, depending on the need. Once, the startup scales up, ACT will double down the grants,” he added.
Bhal also pointed out that since its grant, the startup will not have to issue any equity to any investor. Once receiving the fund, the startup can dedicate all the resources to ramp up the operations and contribute in the fight against coronavirus. All the investors pooling their money in this fund are eligible for a 50% tax rebate under Section 80G.
Bhatnagar said that the motive of the team is to pool all the resources of the startup ecosystem together. It is looking for individual contributors, such as startup founders, who can work as force multipliers. ACT is also looking to leverage the existing startup infrastructure to bring out the best under these conditions. “Investors from Silicon Valley to China are coming forward to the support,” he added.