Ratan N Tata invests in Goodfellows, a start-up offering companionship to the elderly
The start-up has completed a successful beta test and will now be available in Mumbai with Pune, Chennai and Bangalore as the next target cities
Ratan Tata, the former chairman of the Tata group has invested an undisclosed amount in a new start-up that provides meaningful companionship to senior citizens through young, educated graduates. The company called Goodfellows is a for-profit start-up based on the concept of intergenerational friendships.
On the start-up, Shantanu Naidu, general manager in the office of Ratan Tata, told media sources, "The start-up emphasises that companionship means different things to different people. To some, it may mean watching a movie, narrating stories from the past, going on a walk, or having quiet company sitting around doing nothing together, and we are here to accommodate it all. In its beta phase, we discovered how organically the Grandpals bonded with the Goodfellows. Tata's investment in our venture further is a huge source of encouragement to our dedication to this concept (sic)."
According to sources, the launch was attended by Ratan Tata as well as some youth icons, including actress Shriya Pilgaonkar, and content creator Viraj Ghelani who came with their grandparents. Existing ‘Grandpals’ (who have subscribed to the service) were also present at the event.
On the investment, Ratan Tata was quoted as saying, “The bonds between the two generations created by Goodfellows are very meaningful and are helping to address an important social issue In India. I hope the investment helps the young team at Goodfellows grow (sic).”
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Reports added that over the past six months, the start-up has taken time to complete a successful beta and will now be available in Mumbai with Pune, Chennai and Bangalore as the next target cities. During the beta testing phase, the platform received a positive response with over 800 applications from young graduates looking to be employed. Out of all the applications, a shortlisted cohort of 20 provided companionship to the elderly in Mumbai.
According to the team, it has been a challenging but rewarding task to ensure that the Goodfellow bond with their Grandpals in an authentic and meaningful way and not just cosmetically. Media sources said that in terms of the services offered, a Goodfellow does whatever a grandkid would do. They added that there are 15 million elderlies in India living alone, either due to the loss of a partner, or families moving away for unavoidable work reasons. While many of them have caregivers or start-ups for utilitarian needs such as e-commerce, the issue of loneliness or lack of company has been the primary reason for deteriorating mental and physical health.
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In addition to this, Goodfellows also hosts monthly events curated for the enjoyment and engagement of the Grandpals who participate, making the bond deeper and more enjoyable in a different environment. This allows the Grandpals to meet each other as well as more young graduates, building a sense of community.
The business model is a subscription model. The first month is free with only the goal of having the Grandpal experience this service. From the second month onward they have to pay a small subscription fee that will be based on the limited affordability of pensioners.
Reports state that several non-profit models in the space have failed since volunteering happens as per the availability of volunteers and no one invests enough time with one senior to form an authentic bond. Once the desire is over, volunteers move away which impacts seniors gravely.
On the topic of the appliction, actress Shriya Pilgaonkar, known for her role in Mirzapur, The Broken News, and Guilty Minds, said, “The stories and experiences our grandparents have to share with us are nothing less than invaluable. They have seen it all and probably have evolved with it more considering how much more they are open to understanding our generation, compared to our parents. Which makes for the most riveting conversations when we are together. My grandfather's zest for life and travel, to date, keeps inspiring me and in some ways makes him one of my best friends too, as we go on adventures together (sic)." The actress attended the event with her grandfather Arun Narayan Sabnis.
YouTuber Sherry Shroff, who is also a former model and law student, appreciated the initiative and was quoted as saying, “Often younger people may not have the privilege to grow up with their grandparents, and won't know what they are missing. From that standpoint, Goodfellows is such a great initiative for not just the Grandpals, but also the youth, to get the chance to learn from the older generation, who have a treasure trove of knowledge to pass down (sic).”
Content creator Viraj Ghelani said at the event that it’s a privilege to be loved and protected by a grandparent. He told media sources, “I owe so much of my success to my grandmother. I still struggle to fathom the breadth of knowledge she holds, from how the city of Mumbai came to exist, to watching the Independence movement come to life. I get to learn so much from her and it is truly a privilege to be loved and protected by a grandparent.”