’You don’t know what it’s like to be lonely’: Ratan Tata invests in sr citizen companionship startup

Ratan Tata has announced an investment in the senior citizen companionship-as-a-service startup, Goodfellows

Livemint
Updated16 Aug 2022
Industrialist Ratan Tata during the launch of India's first companionship startup for senior citizens, Goodfellows
Industrialist Ratan Tata during the launch of India’s first companionship startup for senior citizens, Goodfellows(PTI)

Former Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata, who has been an active backer of startups, has announced an investment in startup Goodfellows. The investment has not been disclosed. The startup offers companionship to senior citizens as a service. Goodfellows was founded by Shantanu Naidu.

The Cornell University-educated, Shantanu Naidu, 25, is a general manager in Tata's office and has been assisting Tata since 2018. Shantanu Naidu shares Ratan Tata's love for dogs and strays. He has previously started a venture around pets as well.

At the launch of Goodfellows, Ratan Tata said, “You do not know what it is like to be lonely until you spend time alone wishing for companionship.”

Ratan Tata also appreciated Shantanu Naidu’s ideation and also forgiving his mentee for the time he spends away from the office. Speaking at the launch, Ratan Tata said no one cares about getting old until they actually get old.

Ratan Tata said getting a good-natured companionship is a challenge.

Addressing Ratan Tata as a boss, a mentor and also a friend, founder Shantanu Naidu said there are 50 million old people who are living by themselves and have no one to share their lives with.

WHAT DOES GOODFELLOWS DO?

Goodfellows hires youngsters who have the skills of empathy and emotional intelligence to work as the companions of senior citizens. They are also required to ease their day or help them with any task.

In its beta phase, the company has been working with 20 elders in Mumbai for the past six months and is planning to offer services in Pune, Chennai and Bengaluru next.

Shantanu Naidu said it wants to scale up across the country but would prefer to go slow without compromising on the quality of the companions it hires. The experience has been that the tasks may include playing carrom, reading the newspaper for them or even taking naps together, he said.

Ratan Tata said he would be delighted for this service to grow and mature into something which innovatively changes people’s lives.

(With agency inputs)

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