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How New-Age Startups Are Challenging Traditional Business Models

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By Epi Ludvik Nekaj:

Editor’s note: Epi is the Founder of Crowdsourcing Week, an organisation and platform that connects people with the latest ideas and best practices in crowdsourcing and crowd innovation, globally.

The second largest populated country in the world – India – is today the world’s third largest startup ecosystem where disruptors are bridging gaps in on-demand services, employment, resource utilisation and digital literacy, among others. But are these technology-enabled startups transforming the traditional economy? Let’s explore.

There are less than 30% internet users of the 1.3 billion population in India. The estimated number of smartphone users in India will be over 600 million by 2020, a near three-fold jump from current slightly less than 200 million in 2016. Government initiatives such as Digital India may accelerate the adoption of technology but here is where real transformation is happening. Three areas of disruption are taking India by storm: Assets (accommodation, household goods and transport), Services (domestic help, household chores and service delivery) and Expertise (education, online staffing and healthcare).

Technology disruptions on peer-to-peer platforms are seen more commonly in tier one and tier two cities, and on platforms in the asset category such as Oyo, Stayzilla (rented accommodation); Ola Cabs, Wiwigo (rented cabs); Jugnoo; TukTuk; Telerickshaw (rickshaw aggregators); Orahi, rideIT; Ridingo (carpooling); Food Panda, Faasos; Swiggy (food and beverage aggregators); Olx, BookSellBuy; Quikr (old assets, classifieds portals). These have built trust among participants – and participants are building their own trust currency within these platforms.

Along with taxi and rickshaw aggregators, logistics startups such as Moovo, Shipsy; InstaVans, Maalgaadi and Blowhorn are bringing digital literacy among one of the most unreached sections of the population i.e., drivers of trucks and loading vehicles by providing them with smartphones and internet connectivity.

A similar disruption is seen in the services category where platforms such as Helpr, Housejoy, Handyhome, Mr Right and UrbanClap have made the delivery of domestic help or household chores services possible at doorsteps of users. They are also organising an unorganised sector of skilled professionals such as mechanics, laundry workers, house maids and plumbers who are now finding jobs more easily.

The Expertise category is witnessing the transformation in the education, jobs and healthcare market. Coursera – the marketplace for online courses – has 1.3 million Indian users. Other notable platforms in the sector are TutStu; Zeroinfy; Online Tyari; Edgefxkits and Pyoopel (MOOCs, online tutoring) and FlexIT, Crowdstudio and Banana Bandy (job/creative gig portals).

Then there’s the Indian healthcare market, which is expected to touch $280 billion by 2020, clocking a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of over 20%. The healthcare delivery sub-segment today accounts for 65% of the overall market. Platforms like Practo, Portea Medical, MedGenome, Lybrate and Medwell Ventures are bringing healthcare expertise, lab tests, medicines, medical reports and records online while maintaining crucial patient data on secured cloud platforms. And, what about finance? I guess I’ll leave it for another post.

The middlemen aren’t entirely eliminated, they have only changed. Yet, as I had shared in a previous article, it has definitely empowered users today, thereby solving their most complex problems in a personalised manner. However, there are some regulatory challenges.

1. Most regulations are based on traditional business models and don’t specifically address on-demand enterprises or peer-to-peer platforms. For instance, there are regulations for traditional taxi operators but none exists for on-demand transport platforms.

2. Insurance policies are especially outdated in the wake of sharing economy business models.

3. Inadequate rules for background checks pose challenges to onboard security personnel, drivers, mechanics, etc on technology platforms.

4. Each state has its own set of service tax and other compliances, so startups face delays and bottlenecks in scaling up.

India has barely touched many of the 14 parts of crowd economy, which are are essential if it were to become an active contributor to the crowd economy. Undoubtedly, India promises big potential, considering the presence of unorganised sectors and startups who are sourcing user-generated knowledge, which are yet to taste the potential of people-centric and people-powered platforms. These startups have succeeded in getting the participation of people and the platform, two of the 5 Ps of the Crowd Economy (people, purpose, platform, participation and productivity). But they are yet to fully fathom the purpose leading to productivity of the crowd economy.

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  1. Saloni Sawant

    Thank you so much for sharing such nice information.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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