Every year, corporates spend millions of dollars in lieu of CSR, with intention of making sustainable change via social impact. This includes monetary donations to charitable trusts to building apps for the spastic society and most corporates today have a budget allocated for this.
Similarly the Indian startup ecosystem is also waking up to the benefits of sharing. For a startup to create a sustainable social impact is going to be difficult, because of the limited cash that they can spare for these initiatives. But that is not stopping startups from doing their bit. In the last few months, we have seen some Bangalore based startups give back to the startup community in whichever way they could. Here are some -
1) redBus Smart traveller - This one is close to our heart, as redBus offered a 5% off on bus tickets transactions for every startup employee. (also because they partnered with YourStory on this). Business trips were cheaper by 5% and this went very well with the regular lean startup.
2) OLA Cabs Bandh deal - During the recent nationwide bandh which brought the nation to a grinding halt, OLA ran their services at auto rickshaw rates. This again was extensively used, and it made travel on that very easy on that day. (They were overbooked for the 2nd day of the bandh. But that’s a different story)
3) Suphaalam - Suphaalam, a service tablet based learning solution partnered with the Sahasra Deepika Foundation of Education in their spelling bee competitions for underprivileged children and gave away their tablets as prizes.
The marketing angle
As with any other business, these CSR activities have a marketing angle to it. Each of the aforementioned community driven activities has paid its returns via branding and business. OLA Cabs, for example were overbooked for the two days and redBus has earned a brand amongst startups as being startup friendly. However, there is a fair amount of benefit that the end user derived from these initiatives and we hope that these startups continue the good work.
Apart from being a good marketing strategy, the action of giving by these companies, will last long in user memory. These startups engage in the act of giving back because the people at the top of these startups know what they endured during the growth phase. They know the pains of starting up, growing a company and keeping it there as well. These initiatives go beyond just addressing a pain point in the ecosystem. It sets an example and we urge more successful startup to engage in activities of giving back to the ecosystem that nurtured them. Its good karma.