In a situation where India faces a massive economic downturn, the state’s startup ecosystem is spinning to sustain the recession, which is expected to have a worse impact on the global economy than the 2008 comedown. The Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) is the nodal agency of the Kerala government for promoting entrepreneurship development and incubation, supporting the endurance of the state’s startup ecosystem.
Edtech and health tech startups have been showing a positive growth following the coronavirus pandemic, as noted by Saji Gopinath, CEO of KSUM. Travel and tourism, and the real-estate sectors are badly affected, 14% of these businesses are expected to reduce considerably and also downsizing of employees. Also, Kerala’s college incubators have been developing innovative products that can be persuaded to potential startups, or industrial business units.
Many startups have been focusing on citizens as they innovate during this major health crisis. A Calicut-based social communication platform Qkopy, has partnered with the Kerala government to launch the GoK Direct app, to restrain the spread of fake news. It is accessible in English, Hindi, Malayalam, and Bengali, the app broadcasts information and updates on the pandemic. It is available for Android and iOS users, and for those citizens without internet access, the app sends information through SMS notifications.
KSUM-incubated startup QuikDr has been rendering free telemedicine solutions to the Kerala government. QuikrDr founded by Sunny CA and Lalan Varghese, commenced its product development in August 2016 and officially launched in February 2020. “We have partnered with major hospitals in Kerala and have already registered with more than two lakh consultations on the platform,” says Cushbinshad AB, CMO at QuikDr. The app is currently being used by the Directorate of Health Services, Government of Kerala.
Kochi-based Aerofill Filters has been in the business of supplying air filters and has now shifted to a new business model to sustain business and help citizens. Aerofill Filters was founded by Santosh Kumar PD, and now they have started manufacturing N95 and surgical masks in April 2020.
“During the lockdown, most businesspeople were closed and it was challenging to get workers and materials. Masks and air filters work in a similar manner. Our team wanted to help the government and people, and so we started producing masks,” says Santosh. The startup has sold above three lakh masks, priced at around Rs 100 each. They have tied up with 50 government hospitals and medical colleges to provide masks. With almost 120 employees, Aerofill has been using its resources to produce masks and has not announced any salary cuts or layoffs, having over 120 employees.
KSUM-incubated IBoson Innovations has come up with software to help the government to manage the access of staff at their workplaces. It is used by the Kerala State IT Mission, the startup’s solution also helps manage the action of essential service providers.