Amidst the Pandemic how Kerala startups are working on existing startups and adapting new ones magnificently.
During the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, new startups across Kerala were launched and existing ones gained traction.
Although the pandemic has turned the economy upside-down, new startups were launched and existing ones adapted. Over 400 new companies have been registered so far, as per Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM), the nodal agency of the Kerala Government for entrepreneurship development and incubation activities.
Ashok Kurian Panjikaran, manager (business linkages and incubation), KSUM, says, “Although many lost jobs, many adapted to the scenario where remote working became the new normal, something we had expected to happen in the next five to 10 years.”
Many creative online events were held to bring more business for the startups and to showcase their products. Operational expenses of the startups were reduced as KSUM waived the rent for four months and gave a two-month-rent subsidy. “Several startups came up with COVID-related solutions. While the hospitality industry was down, education, health and sectors that required remote monitoring were booming,” says Ashok. Robots, masks, face-shields, mask disposal machines, sanitizers, devices to avoid physical contact, smart tools for recruitment and video conferencing and Augmented Reality (AR)-assisted teaching aids are in the product line.
Avasarshala- startup started by couple Ashwathy Venugopal and Sandeep S, is a platform for students to learn about competitions, scholarships, Olympiads, leadership programs, fellowships, arts, sports, and literature events at regional, national and international levels. They say that 297 students got access to international competitions and growth opportunities. “The startup identifies interests of the students and connects them to the right opportunities through a personalized recommendation engine based on their interests, age and location,” explains the duo, based in Aluva near Kochi. Ashwathy says that now due to the chaos, parents are unaware of many exciting opportunities. For instance, the Latvian Embassy in New Delhi has an annual competition for students and the winners can visit the embassy and experience the life of a diplomat. “Two of our subscribers got selected and since travel restrictions were in place, they had a virtual experience of the same.” When the lockdown was announced, they also launched WhizKids Challenge to keep children engaged through daily tasks on art, science, life skills, cooking, finance and innovation.
According to KSUM, startups from the State received close to ₹500 crores in 2020. “It is true that not all startups have done well; some have put their activities on hold. At the same time, funding is coming in for ventures that have shown resilience and have adapted to the change of scene,” says Ashok.