In an effort to encourage intergenerational friendships, industrialist Ratan Tata launched Goodfellows, India’s companionship startup for senior citizens.
The Goodfellows startup was founded by Shantanu Naidu, an MBA graduate of Cornell University. The 28-year-old works as a General Manager in Mr. Tata’s office, and he is the fifth generation of his family to work for the Tata Group.
Ratan Tata said at the launch of Goodfellows, “You don’t know what it’s like to be lonely until you spend time alone wishing for companionship.”
The startup hires young graduates, known as ‘Goodfellows,’ to assist senior citizens and provide companionship, “similar to what a grandkid would do.”
With 15 million elders in India living alone, either because of the loss of a partner or because of family members moving away for unavoidable work reasons, many of them have caregivers, but the issue of loneliness or lack of company has been the primary cause of deteriorating mental and physical health.
Goodfellows’ business model is a freemium subscription model. The first month is free, with the goal of allowing the senior citizen to experience the service because it is difficult to grasp the concept without first going through it. Based on the limited affordability of pensioners, a small subscription fee will be implemented beginning with the second month.
According to Shantanu Naidu “Companionship means different things to different people, according to the start-up. To some, it may mean watching a movie, retelling old stories, going for a walk, or simply sitting around doing nothing, and we are here to accommodate it all. We discovered how the Grandpals organically bonded with the Goodfellows during the beta phase. Mr. Tata’s investment in our venture is an additional source of encouragement for our commitment to this concept.”
Concerning the model, the startup stated that a subscription model ensures that when senior citizens bond with their companions, they do not keep rotating the graduate visiting them because this does not allow enough time or emotional attention to form a true bond. “When we make a friend, we want to see him or her frequently. This will be avoided by using a different person each time “The company elaborated.
Ratan Tata, Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons, commented on the investment “Goodfellows’ bonds between generations are very meaningful, and they are assisting in addressing an important social issue in India. I’m hoping that the investment will help Goodfellows’ young team grow.”
In the future, Goodfellows intends to provide travel companions for seniors who are hesitant to travel due to a lack of security or company, as well as to extend its services to people with disabilities who face similar or more challenges.
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