Business

Ratan Tata unveils start-up Goodfellows dedicated to senior citizens

Industrialist Ratan Tata and Founder of Goodfellows and Shantanu Naidu during the unveiling of India’s first companion start-up for elders “Goodfellows” in Mumbai on Tuesday.

Industrialist Ratan Tata and Founder of Goodfellows and Shantanu Naidu during the unveiling of India’s first companion start-up for elders “Goodfellows” in Mumbai on Tuesday. | Photo Credit: Emmanual Yogini

Ratan Tata funded start-up “Goodfellows”, which provides companionship to seniors through young, educated graduates who are vetted intensely for empathy and emotional intelligence, was officially unveiled on Tuesday in the presence of Mr. Tata who highlighted the need for such a service for senior citizens staying alone. 

Mr. Tata, the Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons who has made undisclosed amount of investment, said “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.”

Mr. Tata said, “You do not know what is going to be lonely until you spend time alone wishing companionship. I also say that you do not mind getting old until you get old. Then you find its a different world.” 

Speaking on this initiative, he said, ”I salute this effort. I salute all of those who have made a commitment to be companions of the people who are lonely. To me the wonderful feeling is that a group of young intelligent people who could do many other things for themselves have preferred to do this.”

“I am sure it will grow in intensity and in image. I will be delighted to see this effort grows and matures into something that is truly innovative and I will love to see happiness evolve from this,” he added. 

The start-up has been founded by Shantanu Naidu (30), who works as General Manager in the office of Mr. Tata. Mr Naidu, a fifth generation Tata employee. is known for his affection towards senior citizens and dogs.

Over the past six months, Goodfellows has taken the time to complete a successful beta and will now be available in Mumbai with Pune, Chennai and Bengaluru as the next target cities. 

During the beta testing phase, it received a positive response with over 800 applications from young graduates looking to be employed at Goodfellows of which a shortlisted cohort of 20 provided companionship to the elderly in Mumbai. 

Senior citizens can avail the services by signing-up on  thegoodfellows.in or can give a missed call at  +91 8779524307 or  check out their   Instagram handle.

“In terms of services offered, a Goodfellow does whatever a grandkid would do. There are 15 million elderlies in India living alone, either due to 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 ecommerce, the issue of loneliness or lack of company has been the primary reason for deteriorating mental and physical health, Mr Naidu said.

“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 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. Mr. Tata’s investment in our venture further is a huge source of encouragement to our dedication to this concept,” he said.

The business model of Goodfellows is a freemium subscription model. The first month is free with only the goal of having the Grandpal experience this service, since it’s hard to understand the concept without actually going through it. The second month onward a small subscription fee that has been decided based on the limited affordability of pensioners will be charged to encourage the youngsters to choose this as a profession. 

“Several non-profit models in this 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,” the start-up said in a statement.

In the near future, Goodfellows will offer travel companions for seniors holding back from making trips due to lack of security or company, and also plans to extend its services to the handicap community facing similar or more challenges.

Efforts are on to raise more funds to sustain and expand this service. The near-term goal is to hire 100 goodfellows who could touch the lives of 300 senior citizens. Talks are on with two large corporates who have shown interest to onboard this service for their retiring employees, Mr Naidu said. 


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Printable version | Aug 16, 2022 9:55:30 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/business/ratan-tata-unveils-start-up-goodfellows-dedicated-to-senior-citizens/article65776332.ece