#StartupsVsCovid19: How Founders And VCs Are Amping Up Efforts To Solve India’s Covid Resource Crunch


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Currently, the biggest problem faced by the medical infrastructure is the lack of timely delivery of oxygen cylinders to patients as well as a capacity crunch at hospitals

Startup founders have mobilised WhatsApp groups to pool resources, donations and essentials alike

Mission Oxygen, ACT Grants, Delhivery, Razorpay and many more from the startup ecosystems are actively pitching in to ease the situation

As the Covid situation gets worse by the day in India, the startup community is stepping up to contribute to ease the country’s pain. There are several tragedies being recounted on social media of founders losing family members or someone in their team, as well as those they know not being able to avail medical aid. 

On Friday (April 23), India reported the highest daily surge in the world for the third straight day with over 3.46 lakh new Covid cases, which takes the country’s caseload to 1.66 Cr. It was the deadliest day of the pandemic with 2,624 deaths, another unenviable tally. 

One of the major reasons for the high number of deaths has been that many patients have not been able to get critical medical aid such as hospital beds, plasma transfusions, oxygen cylinders and medicines like remdesivir and tocilizumab. Even top private hospitals in the national capital Delhi are turning down new patients as they are unsure of having enough medical supplies. 

Currently, the biggest problem faced by the medical infrastructure is the lack of timely delivery of oxygen cylinders to patients. Maharashtra is the largest producer of oxygen in India followed by Gujarat while Madhya Pradesh has no oxygen manufacturing plant. Meanwhile, the prime minister’s office on Saturday exempted oxygen and oxygen-related equipment from customs duty and health cess to enable imports by various volunteer organisations in the country.

Startup founders have mobilised WhatsApp groups to pool resources, donations and essentials alike. Some groups are trying to put together delivery resources to help optimise oxygen cylinder supplies across the country.  Here are a few of the efforts that these groups are making and how you can reach out to them for help:

Mission Oxygen Brings Concentrators To India

Amid a severe shortage of oxygen in Delhi-NCR hospitals, a group of startup founders called Gurgaon Entrepreneurs have launched a crowdfunding campaign with the goal of procuring oxygen concentrators. 

The group has collected over INR 4 Cr to source concentrators from China, with donations pouring in from the startup community and celebrities such as Taapsee Pannu. The initial goal was to raise INR 2.5 Cr for 500 concentrators. The other entrepreneurs who are leading the efforts through this community are Snehil Khanor of TrulyMadly, Mansha Kaur of Heart On My Sleeve, Hubhopper founder Gautam Raj Anand, Rahul Agarwal and Varun Agarwal of Designhill, Rahul Hari of Satvacart, Uday Anand of Mycrushfit,  Gautam Ghai of Sourcefuse, Cuttlfish founder Shikher Gupta, among others.

The campaign is looking to raise INR 5 Cr through crowdfunding platform Ketto and is still looking for individuals to contribute to the efforts.

Click Here To Contribute

Delhivery To Fly In Supplies

Delhi NCR-based logistics unicorn Delhivery has reached out to businesses seeking to help companies in need of essentials from abroad. The company’s officials, including the management, have been reaching out to the startup ecosystem via social media to provide logistics support. 

Delhivery is also flying chartered cargo planes from international locations next week, including China. It has reached out to businesses seeking to import oxygen concentrators and other essential supplies for collaborations.

According to Nitin Goyal, cluster head for North India imports at Delhivery, the company is planning chartered flights on April 28 and April 30 from Shanghai to Delhi. When asked how people looking to import medical resources can seek the company’s help, he said “You can ask them to connect with me on [email protected] I can help them to give end-to-end logistics support for deliveries from China to India. I would need some details like handover date, number of cartons, dimensions, CBM etc to calculate what volume and capacity can be availed.”

ACT Grants

ACT Grants — a collective formed by India’s startup​ ecosystem to combat Covid-19 and larger societal problems around education​, environment​ and women​’s empowerment last year— has already funded 1,000 oxygen concentrators and is ordering a batch of 4,000, according to Accel India’s Shekhar Kirani. ACT is raising a fund of INR 75 Cr for home health management, oxygen solutions and to help supplement the medical workforce. 

Tejeshwi Sharma, a principal at Sequoia, tweeted: “Please step forward to support this fight. Please write to me [email protected] or DM me to donate.”

According to several people close to the developments, ACT is looking to import 8,000 oxygen concentrators in total. However, calls, texts and mail to key people in the organisation for a confirmation of the details went unanswered.

Wingify

SaaS startup Wingify’s cofounder Paras Chopra tweeted saying he is trying to set up a 10-bed facility for Covid patients in Delhi for a budget of INR 50 Lakh. On being contacted about the status of the effort at present, Chopra told Inc42, “That’s the intent, but right now trying to talk to doctors to understand the on-ground situation and if we can tie up with one of the doctors / hospitals to help extend their facility.”

He shared this link for anyone looking to join forces in the effort to build makeshift hospitals for Covid patients.

Razorpay

Payments company Razorpay has started an initiative to enable all transactions for NGOs and communities pooling funds free of cost up to an amount of INR 10 Lakh. You can register for a payments page through this link.

OYO 

The hospitality giant is tying up with several hospitals and local authorities to support Covid patients, the medical community, essential workers to offer pay-per-use quarantine and self-isolation facilities at some of its properties at minimal prices. OYO is in talks with 50+ hospitals, including Lady Hardinge, Ambedkar, Ram Manohar Lohiya, Lok Nayak Hospital, among others to offer quarantine facilities. 

Additionally, the company is extending its facilities to homecare companies to provide home-like facilities. The company is currently in talks with corporates running mass vaccination drivers for their employees in partnership with healthcare companies and requiring space. Anyone can book for quarantine facilities through the company’s app or reach out at 0124-6201741 or email at [email protected]





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