Coronavirus: Start-Ups Step Up To Help During Lockdown

While the 3-week-long lockdown has brought about disruptions across sectors, start-ups have stepped up with different initiatives to help support the government and the people during the pandemic.

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By Debroop Roy

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Food aggregator and delivery platform Zomato, through its "feed the daily wager' initiative, is trying to ensure meals for workers at places such as construction sites, shops, restaurants, delivery staff and local transport systems, whose lives have seen the biggest disruption since the coronavirus outbreak forced the country to go into a complete lockdown.

While the 3-week-long lockdown, which was the need of the hour, has brought about disruptions across supply chains in multiple sectors, start-ups such as Zomato have stepped up with different initiatives to help support the government and the people during what has already become one of the deadliest pandemics in recent history.

Cloud kitchen platform InnerChef has also offered all its kitchens at no profit to governments in Delhi, Noida, Gurugram, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Mumbai. "Poorest must be fed. Cloud kitchens can convert into community kitchens should governments enable it," founder Rajesh Sawhney said in a tweet.

There are several in other domains who have come up with their own initiatives to help in whatever way they can.

Pitstop, a doorstep car service and repairs provider, for one, on Saturday launched an #AtYourService campaign in nine major cities including Bengaluru, Mumbai and Gurugram, to serve those on the front lines, without any service or labor charges. It has suspended all doorstep and garage services until the end of the lockdown period.

From grocery and food delivery personnel to ambulances and medics, anyone using a vehicle and facing an issue can reach the company on call at 6262621234 or log on to its website. The company said it would work with selected partner garages and doorstep van teams to get these vehicles up and running again.

One major part of the landscape that has seen a massive demand surge since the lockdown is the food supply chain. Since the announcement, despite repeated requests, several people have gone on to hoard essential supplies, leaving retailers and consumers worried.

Ninjacart, a business-to-business fresh produce start-up, is working directly with apartments and societies to get fruits and vegetables delivered. In a twitter post, co-founder Thirukumaran Nagarajan said, "We want someone to aggregate the orders, take the delivery and give it to people who ordered."

On average, the company supplies 1,400 tonnes of fresh produce to retailers on a daily basis.

Another start-up, GrabbnGo, that provides food delivery service at boarding gates inside airports, has come up with an app to help local retail stores. Consumers can order groceries and opt for a drive through, which would help in avoiding queues. For stores with necessary facilities and manpower, customers can also choose to get the order home delivered.

The company said it is trying to approach the government so as to reach the masses at a faster pace.

E-scooter rental firm Zypp, had announced a few days before the nationwide lockdown, that it would deliver its scooters directly to the customers' premises in Gurugram. It had said that all its scooters were being fully sanitized before the delivery.

The outbreak and subsequent lockdown has also resulted in authorities requiring spaces to quarantine people as well as people in multiple cities who live in hostels or paying guest accomodations being asked to leave. Coliving provider Stanza Living has come up with support for both quarantine facilities and those stranded under such troubling circumstances.

"We have been supporting those who are stranded, by offering accommodation at our residences at more flexible contract periods and rentals," the company said. For quarantine facilities, it added that it has an inventory across ten cities and was prepared to help local authorities earmark available spaces for the same.

Those in the e-commerce space such as Amazon, Flipkart and even smaller players like Paytm Mall have all stopped taking orders for non-essential products as demand for sanitizers, hand wash and groceries have gone up significantly. More recently, ShopClues said it would be using its platform to make available essentials such as sanitizers, masks, packaged foods, groceries, medicines and personal hygiene products.

Several edtech start-ups too have come up with free courses and modules to help students and teachers through the crisis.

Debroop Roy

Entrepreneur Staff

Correspondent

Covering the start-up ecosystem in and around Bangalore for Entrepreneur. Formerly an energy reporter at Reuters. A film, cricket buff who also writes fiction on weekends.

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