India’s top VCs set-up ₹100 crore grant to fund ideas to fight Covid-19

  • Sequoia India, Matrix Partners, SAIF Partners, Lightspeed Ventures, Kalaari Capital, Accel, Chiratae Ventures, Omidyar Network and Nexus Partners along with several startup founders launched a ₹100 crore grant.
  • The grant is purely charitable with no financial interest from investors.
  • Founders like Vijay Shekhar Sharma of Paytm, Ritesh Agarwal of OYO, Abhiraj Bahl of Urban Company, Deep Kalra from MakeMyTrip, have contributed to the fund.
On Tuesday evening (March 31), India’s top VCs published an extensive note for startup founders to follow during the Covid-19 crisis. But like Mohit Bhatnagar, Managing Director, Sequoia India said during a conference call with reporters, “In terms like these, words are cheap and action is right.” Investors swiftly sprung to action.

They have now launched Action COVID -19 Team (ACT).

Sequoia India, Matrix Partners, SAIF Partners, Lightspeed Ventures, Kalaari Capital, Accel, Chiratae Ventures, Omidyar Network and Nexus Partners along with several startup founders, launched a ₹100 crore grant to fund ideas that will lead the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

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The grant is purely charitable with no financial interest from investors. It is also subject to tax exemptions of upto 50% under section 80G.

Ideas in the following areas will be eligible for the grant
● Prevention of Covid-19 spread
● Scaling Testing
● Disease management at home
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● Enhanced support for healthcare workers & hospitals
● Management of critically-ill patients
● Support for mental health

The initial grants will be for ₹10 lakh but once the startup can prove a product-market fit, the investors will double down on the grant which can go up to ₹10 crore per idea. The grant already received over 40 proposals. So far, the VCs committed ₹2.5 crore to startups like IVR project, MyLab and Ventilator Splitter.

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Founders like Vijay Shekhar Sharma of Paytm, Ritesh Agarwal of OYO, Abhiraj Bahl of Urban Company, Deep Kalra from MakeMyTrip, have contributed to the fund.

The first ₹100 crore will be deployed over the next two months, the team which will be evaluating these grants will also include healthcare experts.

The eligibility of the grant is not limited to startups but any organization which can be a force multiplier in the fight against coronavirus – even a volunteer group that has an idea.

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“Strong execution teams, which have the DNA for technology and ideas that are capital efficient and force multipliers, that can leverage the existing startup ecosystem,” said Prashant Prakash, partner at Accel during the call.

They also collaborated with the Bengaluru-based chapter of ‘United Way’, a global non-profit organization, to help coordinate the project and grant activities. It is an ISO-certified, FCRA and 80-G compliant organization.

“Every crisis in the past has redefined the world, so the hope is that we come out stronger,” said Avnish Bajaj of Matrix Partners.

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See Also:
India's top VCs publish ‘best practices’ for startups to tide over the Covid-19 crisis
Startup funding could halt, valuations to take a hit and business models have to be pivoted say investors
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