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Start-ups step up to the Coronavirus challenge

Sangeetha Chengappa Bengaluru | Updated on March 11, 2020 Published on March 12, 2020

Even as the number of people testing positive for Covid-19 rose above 60 as of Tuesday, start-ups including AbhiBus.com, Practo, Byju’s, Grofers, MyGate, Vedantu, mFine, Ozonetel, Sunday Mattresses and Rapido rallied their energies to help their customers, suppliers and employees to cope with the prevailing confusion and scare around the virus outbreak.

Following the government led advisory for schools to remain closed to safeguard the health of students, Byju’s said, it will be providing free access to its complete app to school students till April end - students in classes 1-12 can download and access Byju’s learning program, students in classes 1-3 can access Math and English lessons, students in classes 4-12 can learn Math and Science concepts on the Byju’s app. However, students with the pre-installed app (free version) will need to update it in order to access the complete learning content for free.

Similarly, Vedantu is joining hands with primary schools in Bengaluru, New Delhi, Kerala and Hyderabad which have shut down, to provide uninterrupted classes to their students using the schools’ content and teachers to teach on Vedantu’s live and personalised platform. Schools can even opt for end-to-end online tutorial through content and teachers delivering live personalised classes on Vedantu.

Putting to rest speculations running rife about hoarding and pricing of essential items on e-commerce platforms, online grocery start-up Grofers said it is committed to honest pricing at a time when market prices for essentials are skyrocketing. For instance, Grofers was selling N95 face masks at Rs 90 even till its entire stock ended when market prices were in the range of Rs 450 – Rs 500.

“While we are expecting the front line brands to be back in stock, our own brand O’range Hand sanitizer will soon be made available to cater to the current demand of our customers. It has over 60 per cent alcohol content and conforms to European efficacy standard EN 1500:2013” said Albinder Dhindsa, co-founder and CEO, Grofers.

Sudhakar Reddy, MD and CEO of AbhiBus.com said “As a gesture to promote health safety, we are providing free masks to travellers who book through our platform, equipping our partner buses with hand sanitizers and sticking notices in the buses about how to keep infections at bay. We are also sensitizing all bus operators on precautions to be taken to avoid the spread of coronavirus. Travel should not be an issue with the right safety precautions.”

MyGate is raising awareness on COVID-19 and ensuring the availability of qualified medical advice for its 1.5 million plus users by partnering with digital healthcare platforms like DocsApp and mfine, which are offering online consultation via their nationwide doctor networks. “The doctors have done over 2,800 consultations in the last weekend alone, at no extra cost to MyGate users” said Vijay Arisetty, CEO and co-founder of MyGate.

“Consultation through mobile is a powerful tool during an epidemic as it provides easy access to doctors and prevents unnecessary exposure to hospitals. It also helps in asserting if a patient requires immediate attention or if they are going to be okay” observed Prasad Kompalli, CEO and Co-Founder, mfine.

Queries regarding fever, cough, cold, sore throat and body ache saw a 30 per cent increase on Practo in the last two weeks. “The overlap in symptoms of coronavirus and common cold has made it difficult to distinguish between the two. In such cases, it is imperative for people to consult a doctor who can study the symptoms, clarify patients’ doubts or ask them to take a test if required” said Dr Alexander Kuruvilla, Chief Healthcare Strategy Officer, Practo.

Ozonetel is offering cloud-based solutions for their clients to easily switch to work-from-home. With the help of offline mode, the companies can temporarily switch their call centres to a work-from-home model without compromising on the security/ privacy concerns of the businesses. For example, Acko General Insurance took a prompt decision to move their call centres to work-from-home with Ozonetel’s help.

At Sunday Mattresses and Rapido all employees have been advised to follow instructions on precautionary measures issued by the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation via notifications and emails.

India’s largest marketplace Flipkart has appealed to its seller community to ensure that products like masks, sanitizers, antiseptic liquids and hand wash are made available to its customers at all times, dispatched on priority at the best possible price. Flipkart Travel, through its parter ixigo is offering full refund including convenience fee on cancellation and rescheduling of air tickets booked on Flipkart Travel, applicable on travel to selected countries upto March 31, 2020. Awareness sessions have been organised for its supply chain/logistics network and employees/partners.

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Published on March 12, 2020
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