They say a startup should solve a problem. At some, the founders solve the problem at launch and then some get ideas as they go along. But then some do good when their users identify a need which they inadvertently fulfil.
Users of hyperlocal delivery service Dunzo in Bengaluru have so far ordered groceries from nearby stores or have sent documents to a friend across the city using the service. But a resident used it for something that the Google-backed company may not have included in its investor pitch deck: rescue an injured bird.
Around noon on Saturday, Shishira Suresh spotted an injured pigeon in Bengaluru’s RT Nagar and decided to send it to a facility for injured birds where it could be treated. And when she contacted the hospital that does treat injured pigeons, they asked her to deliver the injured bird to them using Dunzo.
After Shishira spotted the injured pigeon, she contacted the Avian and Reptile Rehabilitation Centre or ARRC to help with the rescue. However, since the organisation doesn’t rescue pigeons, they directed Shishira to a pigeon hospital run by Ranka Vasanthraj.
“When I contacted the pigeon hospital, they suggested I use a service provider like Dunzo to transport the bird safely to them since the hospital doesn’t have its own logistics system,” Shishira told Entrackr when asked how the idea of using Dunzo to transport the bird to the hospital occurred to her.
The pigeon hospital, run by the Shree Shankheswar Parshwanath Jain Kabootar Daana Seva Samithi in Bengaluru’s Rajajinagar, is located 10 kilometres away from where Shishira had spotted the bird.
As advised, Shishira then used the Dunzo app and selected the pick up and drop service following which a delivery executive working for the company arrived and took the injured bird to the pigeon hospital.
Dunzo did not respond to our queries until publication despite repeated reminders.
“The delivery person’s name was Damodaran Damu and he was very supportive in the process and took the bird to the hospital very carefully,” Shishira, who is a food scientist working on R&D and innovation of sustainable protein alternatives, told Entrackr.
“It takes very little from our end to help these birds who may otherwise be run over by cars,” Shishira said. “And being able to use a service like Dunzo encourages more people to rescue animals as it takes away a lot of the effort in transporting the birds. You don’t need to drive to the hospital and then come back, so more people may be willing to help,” she said.
“Our trust has been helping stranded and injured pigeons for thirty years now. And to better serve them, we opened this pigeon hospital about three years ago,” Vasanthraj, who heads the facility that helped Shishira with the injured pigeon, told Entrackr.
Vasanthraj’s father, Pukhraj, had started the trust that runs the pigeon hospital three decades ago.
“Not just Dunzo, people use a number of other delivery and transport service providers like Swiggy’s Genie, Ola and Uber to send over injured pigeons to us,” Vasanthraj said.
He said that thanks to services like these, the pigeon hospital does not incur any logistical costs involved in picking up injured birds and can thus use all of its funds towards treating them.
“We receive around 40 injured pigeons each day. If we had to send our own people to receive them from the rescuers, that would be a huge cost and we wouldn’t be able to afford it,” Vasanthraj said. “For 40 birds, we would have to hire around 25 people just to pick them up from the rescuers”.
He recounted that earlier, the hospital had a person who used to pick up injured birds himself but that meant that in a day the hospital could only serve six to seven birds depending on how far the rescuers were located from the hospital.
He said that some rescuers are sometimes afraid of sending over injured birds on two-wheelers so they chose to send them via Uber and Ola cabs.
“If you just put the bird in a cardboard box, add a layer of bedsheet under the bird for cushioning and punch some holes in the box, the bird will stay there comfortably,” Vasanthraj explained when asked how people could send injured birds to the hospital.
At a time when compassion and care for animals is becoming difficult with the many challenges around funding and the current COVID related restrictions, this novel way of rescuing birds and providing timely help is indeed a problem solved — any which way.
Perhaps animal welfare centres in other cities where apps like Dunzo or Uber and Ola are available could benefit from a similar model to at least reduce the burden of transport logistics and make treatment possible for injured birds and animals. In Delhi, the Charity Birds Hospital could potentially benefit from a similar model.
Thus proven that startups often end up solving a problem which perhaps even they may not have thought of at the time of starting up.