Startup Street: This Healthcare Startup Turned The Pandemic Into A New Opportunity
Arvi’s thermal and facial scanning kiosk. (Source: Arvi/BloombergQuint)

Startup Street: This Healthcare Startup Turned The Pandemic Into A New Opportunity

This week on Startup Street, a look at how a six-month-old healthcare startup had to reinvent its offerings to survive. A telecom major gets on the edtech train. And a new survey shows how brutal the lockdown has been for fledgling startups. Here’s what went on:

Arvi Healthcare: Reinventing To Survive

A few months ago, Arvi Healthcare was busy making simple medical alert systems to ensure timely interventions for senior citizens. Little The pandemic provided a new opportunity.

The Hyderabad-based startup has developed a contactless thermal-scanning kiosk under the Make In India initiative. The kiosks use artificial intelligence in facial and thermal scanning to detect persons with high temperatures and those who are not wearing masks. The idea is to have an unmanned booth that can scan, provide hand sanitisation and manage entrances to public areas.

“Our key market has been manufacturing plants and workplaces,” said Sushant Reddy, co-founder and chief executive of Arvi. “Our kiosks are designed to integrate with other access control systems and also double up as contactless attendance solutions that replace existing fingerprint-based check-ins.”

The startup has also seen demand from housing societies who want to screen frequent visitors like maids, drivers and cooks, Reddy said.

The decision to start manufacturing scanning kiosks wasn’t an easy one. But it was necessary for the startup to stay relevant after the Covid-19 struck. “As a startup, our only concern was survival.”

“Once the lockdown was announced, we started brainstorming on what might change once things start to reopen. We started looking at technologies in China and South Korea, two countries that were ahead of the curve by at least two months,” he said. “We saw that there was a huge demand for rapid thermal screening and thought that a similar demand would happen once India starts to open up.”

Arvi pulled through. The startup is now offering four variants of their kiosks costing Rs 60,000 to Rs 1.25 lakh apiece. The production is completely in-house from design to fabrication and software.

The startup now wants to develop an advanced version of this. Reddy said they want to turn the kiosks into healthcare vending machines. The ideal variant of that would be able to measure health vitals within 60 seconds by using multiple sensors.

There has been a drawdown to this though. Demand for the original medical alert system—that gave 24/7 assistance to senior citizens at the push of one button—has gone down compared to pre-Covid levels, he said.

Arvi’s emergency device. (Source: Arvi)
Arvi’s emergency device. (Source: Arvi)

Arvi Healthcare, founded by Reddy, Avinash Lavangal and Mandar Zope in January 2020, is bootstrapped till date. Reddy said after the Covid-19 pandemic, investors will become more cautious with their bets. But he isn’t too worried as good teams will find capital. Right now, he said, the startup will focus on generating capital from customers.

“Honestly, we don’t know how long this will last and what will be its long-term impact—we only know that whatever the impact, we will still be building state of the art remote healthcare monitoring solutions.”

Airtel Buys Stake In Edtech Startup

Bharti Airtel Ltd. has acquired a 10% stake in Mumbai-based edtech startup Lattu Media as part of its Airtel Startup Accelerator Program.

“The investment will enable Airtel to add Edtech to its premium digital content portfolio and give distribution scale to quality learning material from Lattu Kids,” the telecom operator said in a statement on Wednesday.

While the financial details of the deal were not disclosed, Bharti Airtel in a regulatory filing said the acquisition of the equity shares was done at mutually agreed pre-money enterprise valuation. “The said valuation is not material and not disclosed herein due to reasons of confidentiality,” the filing added.

Lattu Kids is the fourth company to join the Airtel Startup Accelerator Program after Voicezen, Spectacom Global and Vahan. “We believe that Lattu Kids can make a positive impact in the space of online education and are excited to have them in our accelerator and partner in their growth,” Bharti Airtel Chief Product Officer Adarsh Nair said.

Lattu specialises in digital learning tools for children, and the app focuses on improving English vocabulary, reading and mathematics skills through animated videos and games.

More Than A Third Of Startups Are Out Of Funds, Finds Survey

A LocalCircles survey of over 8,400 startups and small enterprise found that about 38% startups have run out of funds and 30% have cash that will last for less than three months, indicating the severe impact of lockdown on fledgling businesses.

“Many businesses have reported a revenue drop of more than 80-90% in the last two months, making it hard for them to even sustain their business,” LocalCircles said in a report. The comparison from April to June 2020 showed that the percentage of startups and SMEs out of funds has risen from 27% to 38%, showing a worrisome situation, it said.

These organisations are cutting or deferring marketing and human resource costs to sustain their business, the report noted.

Only 35% of the businesses surveyed said they expect any growth in the next six months. An equivalent percentage of entities said they will have to scale down their operations to survive.

About 14% said they see their business getting shut down, while 16% said they were quite unsure of the future.

The government had approved Rs 3 lakh crore emergency credit line to the micro, small and medium enterprises to help them sail through the crisis.

“But a large number of startups might not be able to avail these benefits under the Atmanirbhar Bharat scheme even if they are registered as MSMEs. This is because a startup needs to have existing debt/loans on their books to qualify, but most startups usually opt for venture capital funding, which makes them ineligible for this Government scheme,” the report noted.

With PTI inputs

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