As an entrepreneur, we are sure you know the value of a robust startup ecosystem. From ideation to funding, and legal advice to recognition, a healthy ecosystem supports you on every step of your journey. As a 2018 report from Genius Works put it- “Technology-driven startups aren’t just contributing to economic growth, in many ways, they are economic growth.” How did Indian startups during COVID fare?
With entrepreneurship embedded in our culture, government programs have seen over $10 billion invested in the Indian economy in 2019. That’s proof of the thriving startup ecosystem, which is currently ranked 26 in the world according to StartupBlink. But, all that came crashing down when the pandemic hit.
Indian Startups During COVID
Indian startups during COVID were initially hit very hard. A NASSCOM report found that “30-40% tech startups have halted their operations or are in the process of closing down.” COVID-19 has significantly impacted startups in two key areas – capital and demand. Because of the economic crisis, funding for startups has fallen from $1.73 billion in March 2019 to $0.33 billion in March 2020.
The crisis has also had an impact on how consumers spend. With many people losing their jobs, consumers have tightened their purses causing a 40% drop in spending. As a result, startups are being forced to rethink. The NASSCOM report also found that 54% of Indian startups during COVID are looking to pivot to new business opportunities, like health
The Startup Ecosystem Fights Back
Despite the economic fallout, the startup ecosystem isn’t sitting silently. Both government and private organizations have launched a wide variety of grants and initiatives to help startups during these troubling times. Here are just a few initiatives that have been launched so far:
- Action COVID-19 Team: ACT is a ₹1,000 crore grant by VC’s and founders that have already funded 48 projects. Applications are currently paused but should be open soon. The grant will fund ideas to fight COVID-19 using existing startup assets.
- USISITF COVID-19: The grant-funded 11 unique ideas to battle COVID-19, between US and Indian partners. Ignition Stage 1 teams got ₹50,00,000 and Ignition Stage 2 teams ₹1,00,00,000.
- SIDBI SAFE: The bank launched a scheme to offer MSME’s loans of up to ₹50,00,000 at an interest rate of 5%. Any MSME manufacturing gloves, masks, ventilators and other critical gear can apply.
- DST CAWACH: A joint initiative between the government of India and NSTEDB, CAWACH was a fund for startups making materials to combat COVID-19. Applications are now closed, with ₹56 crores being distributed to 54 startups across the country.
Chip In if You Can
A healthy startup ecosystem is one that is constantly active and willing to help. If you have expertise in any area, chip in by contributing in any way you can. For entrepreneurs and founders, share your experience and expertise through the media. That way, you can inspire others as well as offer workable solutions for battling COVID-19.
If you find digital workshops or training sessions, offer to speak. Your advice will be invaluable to the millions of struggling entrepreneurs out there. You can also join incubators and accelerators, to work more directly with others on building the companies of tomorrow. Get on LinkedIn and connect with people who have skills like coding, design and manufacturing and connect them with startups that could use their help.
A healthy startup ecosystem also needs funding to survive. So, work with VC’s and investment funds you know to support other Indian startups during COVID. In the fortunate situation, you have extra cash to spare, think about making a small donation to funds like the ACT.
The easiest thing to do though is network. Get on social media and connect with other entrepreneurs, VC’s and funds. Introduce them to people who could benefit from their knowledge and money. Promote startups you find; a few hundred extra views could do wonders for them.
It’s important you check in and ensure these startups have a comprehensive employee healthcare plan. If not, why not introduce them to Onsurity? TeamSure by Onsurity is an employee healthcare plan designed for SMEs and startups. With Onsurity, you get access to value-added services like doctor teleconsultations, online medicine delivery and complimentary group health insurance for startups, through our insurance partner.
Onsurity’s economical and flexible business health plans offer more than just health insurance for startups. That makes it worth every Rupee. If you know a startup that could benefit from Onsurity, send them our website today.