Chairman Emeritus of Tata Group Ratan Tata’s business assistant Shantanu Naidu plans to launch GoodFellows, a startup aimed at providing companionship and serving the elderly in their day-to-day activities.
“GoodFellows is an upcoming for-profit startup providing intergenerational friendship and calls itself a “companionship company”. It employs young, educated graduates up to the age of 30 to create intergenerational friendships between them and the elderly to reduce loneliness,” Naidu said in a note.
Naidu has been working with Mr Ratan Tata since 2018 as a Deputy General Manager (Chairman's Office). Earlier, he has worked as an automobile design engineer at Tata Elxsi in Pune.
Shantanu (28), an MBA from Cornell University, is the fifth generation of his family, working in the Tata Group.
GoodFellows is going to launch officially next year and will be working on a monthly subscription model. They will be hiring young graduates to take care of elderly people. As of now, they are accepting requests from those who are willing to experience this service with zero cost or liability.
Through an ongoing beta pilot, the startup has been able to identify and validate the authenticity and results to address the utility needs of the elderly, companionship that is more complex and needs a more empathetic understanding of what a companion means”, which is the focal point of GoodFellows, Naidu said.
The beta which is expected to end in January as GoodFellows looks to launch officially, is still accepting Grandpals willing to experience this service with zero cost or liability, the note said.
“Intergenerational friendships are a kind, meaningful and authentic way to help the elderly living alone with companionship and warmth in the way that GoodFellows is offering. I am keen to see how GoodFellows progresses and wish Shantanu and his young team all the very best” said Ratan Tata said.
Naidu's intergenerational friendship with Ratan Tata has been an influence for him to start this initiative.
Each Goodfellow is vetted through several self-designed psychometric tests designed to gauge empathy. These young graduates are spirited individuals that are essentially grandkids on demand with only one goal: dispelling the loneliness from the lives of the “Grandpal” they are assigned to, the note further said.
The firm plans to get the tests licensed to any corporates who shall filter candidates based on empathy.
In 2009, Naidu had founded an innovation and design-based organization Motopaws, which had received an undisclosed investment from Tata. Motopaws produced reflective dog collars made from waste denim and industrial fabric. The bright collars are designed for street dogs and it helps the drivers to spot them at night and daytime and prevent accidents.
The funding from Tata had helped it expand to 17 cities and recruited 250 people within the first eight months.
Last year during lockdown, Naidu had founded “On your Sparks”, a counselling platform to inspire and introduce potential entrepreneurs to the right values and foundations before entering the realm of startups.