‘The Future is now’ says startups on how COVID-19 has accelerated changes in market dynamics
“The COVID-19 crisis has affected us all. And, today innovative startups are joining hands within the ecosystem to fight the pandemic,” shared Vishal Krishna, Business Editor, YourStory, as he set the stage for a panel discussion with six startups. The startups are all JioGenNext alumni, who have developed specific solutions to address the challenge at hand.
He highlighted, “The media limelight has always been on B2C startups. But, today, we are seeing how B2B startups have become key for B2C startups to battle the challenges on the ground.”
The startups –, HealthVectors, , , and CabDost – have developed solutions to address the multi-pronged challenges of the novel coronavirus epidemic.
Suraj Baliga, Co-Founder, Clinikk Healthcare; Achal Negi, Leadership team, FlytBase; Yamuna Sastry, Founder & Chief Enabling Officer, Cab Dost; Ayushi, Co-Founder & COO, DronaMaps; and Dr Subhasish Sircar, Founder & CEO, Health Vectors, Mradul Khandelwal, Head of Business, LogiNext in conversation with Vishal deep-dived into the solutions developed by each of their startups while also sharing their experiences on ground and how the pandemic has brought about behavioural changes that are likely to have an impact on the market.
A brief overview of the solutions developed by the six startups part of JioGenNext
- Flytbase has launched the #FlytAgainstCovid19 initiative to help government and public health workers fight against the pandemic and has made its flagship product FlytNow Pro free until May. The software is enabling drone operators who are partnering with the governments to leverage and manage drones to take required actions such as conduct aerial patrols to keep a check on the violation, broadcast audio messages, and disinfect places, among others.
- Clinikk is leveraging telemedicine to provide remote care and screening of potential COVID-19 patients. It is also running a telemedicine hotline for the state of Goa, serving 16 lakh Goans for their primary care requirements. The startup is also powering the telemedicine hotline for the Bangalore South COVID-19 task force providing similar service to nearly 35 lakh residents while operating a fully functional network of well-equipped OPDs for non COVID-19 patients in Bengaluru.
- Health Vectors has designed the Health Vectors Covid19 Risk-O-Meter, a web-based app that calculates a users’ chance of being infected with COVID-19, its severity and then gives suggestions for ways to reduce the chances of getting infected.
- LogiNext has launched LogiNext NOW. The new offering has features that enable contactless deliveries, omnichannel fulfilment and enhances the safety of the delivery associates. It enables OTP-based ePODs thereby making contactless deliveries a breeze. It also sends timely reminders to the delivery and warehouse associates to check body temperature, wash and sanitise their hands after every delivery or break. The platform also comes with features that enable brick-and-mortar stores to pivot to online business by enabling them to hire freelance riders seamlessly via a self-service job board and disburse salaries through that portal. LogiNext NOW is being offered free for businesses and organisations working on the ground to mitigate pandemic risks.
- DronaMaps has created a public-facing dashboard for India and a district-wise one for the state of Punjab specifically to keep citizens informed on the situation from reliable sources. It also includes data on geofencing of quarantined patients, cluster analysis of the spread, location tracking with CDR ( call records data ), and predictive analysis for spatial spread based on these parameters.
- CabDost has worked on a mass awareness campaign on WhatsApp on the spread of COVID-19 and the steps that the cab drivers need to undertake to stay safe. The startup is also helping cab drivers plan debt-related money management and also helps them with alternative sources of income.
A fast-paced evolution
The startups highlighted how the COVID-19 outbreak has accelerated the market dynamics, especially in the last few months.
“Today, personal health has become the epitome of everything that we can think of. Preventive and predictive health has taken centre stage,” pointed out Dr Subhasish.
Dr Suraj added, “Today, we are living in a post-Corona world. What has been a major change is that anything that can be done digitally is now being done digitally. Also, a sector like telemedicine, which was underutilised for the last 20 years has now come into focus. The country didn’t have proper guidelines for years, but now, within two weeks, the guidelines and mechanisms have been put in place. Also, taking care of health was always an afterthought. It was never a priority. But, we are now seeing that attitude changing. People or governments or organisations, all of them have started investing in health.”
The future is now
Aspects that were once considered futuristic have suddenly time-travelled and become the present reality shared by the speakers. Ayushi shared, “Until about six months ago, drones was almost a taboo subject. The talk most often revolved around relaxing clampdown. But, today it is being used at a nation-wide scale. The transition is interesting because it is now borne out of need.”
She added from a business perspective, “Today, the government has become a key stakeholder for players like us. Getting the government to use new-age technology and at scale has never been this easy. More importantly, it has happened only through interactions done remotely. Anybody who has had the experience of working with governments will tell you that this was near impossible earlier. A year ago, 40 percent of my cash burn was going into client acquisition. But, today it is otherwise.”
Change in business dynamics
The pandemic and the resultant changes in the market has also pushed the startups to expand their area of focus.
“We had positioned ourselves as an enterprise platform. There wasn’t an immediate plan to enable our platform for SMBs or small players. But, due to COVID-19, we realised our platform could help them mitigate risks and accelerate relief measures. Today, we have SMBs and small players leveraging our platform. In fact, in Europe, NGOs are using our platform to deliver essentials to the homeless,” shared Mradul.
Another big impact has been in the area of data sharing, wherein today there is less friction among people and organisations to share data as long as there is transparency and a promise that the data is being leveraged for the right purposes.
“Technology is no longer a good-to-have but a must-have. And, what’s even more important is to decipher what the numbers are saying. People are beginning to understand that today and the reluctance to share data is on the downside.”
If there’s one underlying theme that the panelists pointed out time and again it was that the pandemic has changed the world for good and that focus should now be on adapting quickly to the new reality to insulate from the challenges and tap into the new market opportunities.