As the curve flattens, we wonder what COVID19 has revealed about ourselves. The pandemic chips away at our sanity, showing us our foibles and feeble concentration as anyone working from home with kids can attest. But it also calls forth the entrepreneurial spirit and surfaces the best of founders’ ingenuity.
Four years ago, we bet on two Promethean teams and their visions of tech for humanity. Today, the two startups from MOX Batch 2 are being internationally recognized for their efforts:
LOTaDATA—a US GovTech100 company for the last 3 years—has been working with city governments in the US, EU, Singapore, and India to help battle COVID using anonymized data on people’s movement (WSJ).
ELSA—an AI English pronunciation assistant, the winner of SXSW Edu 2016—was recognized by Fast Company World Changing Ideas Awards in the AI and Data category, selected from nearly 3000 entries. ELSA also recently made its pro version free to all K-12 students worldwide, continuing to empower voices to be heard and people to open doors, lockdown or not.,
Elsewhere, SOSV founders continue to show that tough times can bring out our most innovative, empathetic and resourceful selves. Faced with disasters, “cockroaches may lose a leg or two, but they will survive,” as our managing director William Bao Bean puts it. Read on for a roundup of startups from Chinaccelerator and MOX battling COVID and improving lives under lockdown.
Snapask, a Series B Edtech startup in Asia for students to ask questions and get answered by qualified tutors, published over 50,000 questions in its question bank for free so that students can learn from home. Most schools are closed or closing amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
NewCampus is a lifelong learning school for the modern leader. They’ve launched a new online program focussed on building better leaders in times of chaos. The topics covered include – Leading through a pandemic, Transitioning to remote work, and Mental Wellbeing and Personal Development.
ELSA Speak—an AI app for English pronunciation, winner of SXSW Edu 2016—is making its Pro version free for K-12 students worldwide.
Digital therapeutics startup Mobio Interactive is working with NYU Grossman School of Medicine and the University of Zurich Psychiatry Hospital to deliver free digital stress-resilience training to people around the world. They will also collect data anonymously for governments and healthcare experts for COVID-19 treatment purposes.
Phable, an IoT autonomous healthcare assistant, is ensuring public health with new features including video and chat consultations with doctors.
LOTaData—a US GovTech100 company that provides geospatial intelligence for smarter cities and real-world businesses, recently started analyzing their data for Italy, Spain, India and the US to understand anonymized people-movement and correlations with COVID-19 patterns. Social interactions and movements are the key drivers for the spread and by providing anonymized and aggregated information about the movement of people, LOTaDATA enables local and regional governments to better monitor the adherence to quarantine policy and helps individuals protect themselves by avoiding crowded areas.
Verismart, an enterprise and personal data management platform leveraging blockchain to drive KYC, is offering its infrastructure to enterprises, government health departments and insurance companies to help battle COVID using anonymized health and telecom data.
UNL, a universal addressing platform for navigation and location-based services, is using its infrastructure to help the Indian government build an end-to-end solution for COVID-19. Towards this mission, UNL recently launched the non-profit organization Human Unlimited Foundation, partnering with the artist Akon, his venture Akoin, and HERE Technologies.
CivilCops, social intelligence govtech for smart cities, developed the TRACK-19 mobile app to help the government track COVID-19 infected people.
AI & DATA
viAct.ai is a Hong Kong-based company that leverages computer vision to automate the real-time monitoring of construction and manufacturing sites. To combat COVID19, they have developed new applications of their computer vision technology to detect face mask wears, cleaning duration and frequency, number of escalator handrail contact, and gatherings.
Aylien using their news API to map and analyze media reaction to the outbreak, plotting where and when the major events and announcements occurred globally.
HR SaaS company Atiom updated their training modules and materials for corporates to train the team on how to take the correct precautions against the coronavirus and ensure safety in the workplace. Atiom offers a gamified mobile app to make employee engagement and training fun, efficient and measurable.
Eat Mubarak, Pakistan’s second-largest food delivery platform with over 150,000 monthly users and 3,500 restaurants already on board, is providing ration boxes to the laid-off employees of restaurants so that they can run their kitchens.
Coutloot, an O2O and social commerce platform, recently introduced an ‘Essentials’ service category on its platform. Leveraging its offline seller network to power hyperlocal deliveries, CoutLoot has listed grocery shops, medical stores, vegetable vendors on its platform, allowing consumers within a 1-3 kilometer radius to place orders.
We put together five key lessons learned from China-based startups from the business perspective, including how to manage the internal team and react to the external customers’ demands during the outbreak.