For Some Indian Tech Companies, COVID-19 Has Been an Opportunity

Gaming

While the COVID-19 outbreak has caused great hardships, even in the tech economy, for some companies, it’s been a time of great opportunity too. Globally, you have companies like Zoom which have gone from being relatively unknown to household names. Here in India, companies in education tech, online entertainment, and gaming have seen tremendous growth. Even as Ola, Uber Zomato, and Swiggy announce mass layoffs to adopt a leaner business strategy, companies like WhiteHat Jr, Gamerji, and Mirrorsize are actively hiring and have significantly grown their business.

Today, we’re defining the new normal and finding ways to make social distancing work in all the different aspects of our lives, and the companies that have benefited the most as the ones that can digitise and virtualise our lives, so that we can do things like go shopping, without having to come into contact with people unnecessarily.

The ‘new normal’

One of the biggest pain points for small and medium businesses during the lockdown has been to cope with the challenges of this sudden shift of working online. Himanshu Geed, CEO and co-founder at Big.jobs told Gadgets 360, “Companies that address the needs of the new-normal i.e. the impact of COVID-19 in the long term are also in need to rapidly hire talent to be ready for when the lockdown eases. Fintech companies are ramping up their team sizes steadily and remain one of the lesser impacted sectors – data indicates a 40 percent increase in the number of interviews in financial services organizations. Companies like Khatabook, NIRA, Setu, Recko, and more have raised funding and are hiring to get ready for the demand to come as more and more small and medium businesses will look to digitize their books and finances and seek debt to refuel business and so on.”

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Mirrorsize, a Delhi-based AI company that offers a 3D body measurement tool, has also seen a healthy rise in business. The company claims to have doubled its business and have sealed customers from Australia, the US, Pakistan, Morocco and even India. The tool helps in providing precise body measurements via a smartphone app, and in these times of social distancing, many bespoke fashion merchants have resorted to this automated option for custom tailoring.

Mirrorsize helps in solving a big problem for fashion designers: “How to customize apparel for customers if they can’t measure them?” Mirrorsize told Gadgets 360 that it is looking to get more engineers on board to strengthen its Computer Vision team, and is also actively expanding its sales and marketing team as well.

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Shiprocket, a tech enabled logistics aggregator in India, recently raised Rs. 100 crore during the lockdown and is gearing up to meet the demands when the markets start to open up. Big.Jobs data reveals that startups like GroCurv that provide technology-powered digital marketing and sales solutions are seeing a rise in hiring as well.

Ed-Tech

Because of the lockdown, classrooms have been forced to shift online and digitise in a short span of time. Ed-tech companies, due to this immediate need, have gained immense popularity post lockdown. Geed told Gadgets 360, “At least 15 ed-tech startups including Vedantu, Classplus etc. have raised funds during COVID-19 and even before that BYJU’s and Unacademy had raised $400 million (roughly Rs. 3,018 crores) and $100 million (roughly Rs. 754.64 crores) respectively. Testbook is planning to increase its team size by 25 percent over the next six months.”

WhiteHat Jr, an online learning platform has seen significant leaps since lockdown. The company is looking to onboard 2000 plus teachers and 400 employees every month to supplement the increasing student base. The recruitments are for various roles in product, technology, operations and sales teams. Founder and CEO of WhiteHat Jr, Karan Bajaj told Gadgets 360, “While we were earlier growing at a 40 percent MoM growth rate, after the Covid-19 lockdown, this has accelerated to 100 percent MoM growth. We’re currently hiring aggressively amidst this downturn since our focus is on increasing capacities, getting more teachers onboard, and conducting more daily classes for the students to have access to our curriculum.”

The company is especially interested in recruiting teachers with a strong academic background in engineering, science and technology who are deeply passionate about cutting-edge fields such as machine learning and space technology. “In terms of overall company growth, we’ve reached a $50 million annual revenue run rate within 15 months of going live and have also achieved positive cash flow from March 2020. The US business is growing more than 200 percent each month and the US student response to our Indian teachers has been incredible, a great testament to our teacher community. This has given us confidence to scale in major global markets,” Bajaj adds.

Noida-based edtech startup Edumarshal has reportedly grown 250 percent since the coronavirus lockdown. It offers online campus management tools to video-based learning for schools that are struggling to digitise. Its proprietary ERP software offers AI-driven attendance marking system, single-click progress report generation, and student analytics on a single app, making it easy for students and teachers to engage in a seamless manner. The software has been adopted by several educational institutions to cope with the sudden need to shift online during the pandemic.

Gaming Industry

The more people stay at home, the more time they spend on recreation. The gaming industry has seen a substantial rise post lockdown as well. Indian esports platform, Gamerji for instance has seen a 2.5 times growth in numbers after the lockdown. Founder Soham Thacker told Gadgets 360, “Prior to the lockdown, Gamerji was operating at an average of close to 55,000 new users a month. Currently, we are operating at 1,40,000 new users a month. The primary reason is the additional time people have spent playing games since most businesses and colleges are shut along with the growing awareness of Esports in India. Gamerji has seen a 2.5 times growth in numbers compared to pre-lockdown.”

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Ludo King, a popular mobile game, saw 47 percent growth in monthly active users between April and May. Its daily user growth went up by 30 percent in the last one month. Server usage increased by 25x times in capacity – from eight servers before lockdown to over 200 servers currently. “I never expected that much traffic or the number-one ranking. But yes, while making the game, I convinced my team members that when we release this game, it will come in the top 10 rankings of the board games category in India,” Vikash Jaiswal, the creator of the Ludo King game, told Gadgets 360 in an interview.

Health Tech

ekincare, a health and medical tech startup in India, is witnessing 200 percent plus increase in demand in online doctor consultations and is rapidly ramping up their team to meet the demands, Big.Jobs data suggests. “Qure.ai, DocsApp are amongst the many health tech startups that have multi-million dollars in funding rounds during the pandemic and are hiring aggressively,” Geed adds. He explains that these companies are thriving currently as they ‘are offering means to lessen the immediate blow of COVID-19.’ Long-term sustainability and growth of these companies will be based on strategies and tools that truly compel consumers to opt for online consultations, instead of physical ones.

Streaming platforms

To while away time and wade of the pandemic anxiety, consumption of entertainment content has spiked considerably as well. According to new data from content aggregation service JustWatch based on usage of its platform, popular streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+ Hotstar, and Amazon Prime Video have benefited massively from the lockdown as users look for entertainment while at home.

JustWatch noted that Zee5 saw an increase of 259 percent in the period between March 24 and April 24. During the same period in India, Netflix saw a 204 percent increase, while Amazon Prime Video saw a 189 percent rise. Similarly, AltBalaji (174 percent), JioCinema (161 percent), and Disney+ Hotstar (149 percent) all saw major boost as well.

Even though Zee5 got the biggest boost, Netflix continued to reign supreme among all streaming services in India. According to the content aggregation service, Netflix accounted for 21 percent of total searches. Disney+ Hotstar came in second with 18 percent, followed by Prime Video with 16 percent.


How are we staying sane during this Coronavirus lockdown? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.

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