As the world goes through the most unprecedented crisis experienced in generations, this time has allowed some of us, albeit locked down and socially distanced, the opportunity to step back and focus on the basics, get a little perspective.
While we are all in the same storm but definitely not in the same boat, this period has been a good one for me. As I write this newsletter on day 36 of India’s lockdown, I want to take this opportunity to share some of my key takeaways from this period and also use this as an opportunity to share some positivity and optimism:
- Covd-19 has been the greatest leveler our generation has seen thus far, we are all equal irrespective of culture, religion, race, financial status. Corona virus does not discriminate
- The people who run our countries are not the billionaires and industrialists but the daily wagers, the front-line workers, the nurses and doctors working tirelessly through this period for little money or personal gain, rather putting their lives at significant risk
- Our society has become too materialistic and our needs are not that many. Through our government, we have realized a new definition of “Essentials”
- Health is wealth, home is the best place in the world and there’s a handful of people we all love, care about and that really matter
- This is a time of conscious reflection and understanding and hence it can be an end or a new beginning. For me, it’s a new beginning of sorts…
Chaos is a ladder: here’s how
The technology industry in India has finally arrived. At a time when we are not allowed to have our maids, cooks or domestic help come home for work, the government has shared notices across the country to allow Zomato, Swiggy for food delivery, BigBakset, Grofers, MilkBasket to deliver our groceries and essentials and the Prime Minister has gone on tv and radio and asked us to use telemedicine platforms to consult with doctors and ecommerce platforms to deliver our medicines.
The police are using drones to monitor sealed parts of the city and ‘red zones’ worst impacted by Covid-19 and the government has launched the Aarogya Setu mobile app to self-assess, contact-trace and measure Covid-19 infections accurately and effectively. The app by the way went from 0-50mn in downloads in just 3 weeks from launch – fastest to 50mn in India ever!
So as we move through the world’s largest lockdown, as we spend record time in the digital universe, we are starting to see massive opportunities in the sector. Online gaming, education, healthcare, content & media as well as digital collaboration, conferencing and social networking space (Netflix watch party anyone?) are spaces that are skyrocketing, signs of this, we are seeing in our portfolio as well.
Startup vs Covid-19
In India it has been heartening to see the entire startup and technology ecosystem come together and try to help solve this problem and bind us together. The Venture Capital community along with some reputed founders has come together to launch https://actgrants.in/ a $15mn grant pool to support Covid-19 related initiatives – to scale testing, disease management at home, prevent spreading or even mental wellness in this time. Already funded 27 companies in the first month with many more in the pipeline.