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'You don't know what it is to be lonely', says Ratan Tata as he invests in elderly companionship startup
Ratan Tata
Image Cr: Insta Screengrab/

'You don't know what it is to be lonely', says Ratan Tata as he invests in elderly companionship startup

| @indiablooms | 20 Aug 2022, 10:24 pm

Mumbai/IBNS: "You don't know what it is to be lonely, until you spend time alone wishing for companionship."

Senior citizen loneliness is a heart-rending global crisis. But the words of Ratan Tata in his golden years resonated with everyone as something heart-warming and a harbinger of hope.

The reason: the industrial icon walked the talk by extending support to Goodfellows, a unique startup that aims to connect youngsters with senior citizens battling loneliness, senility and alienation.

Companionship startup Goodfellows has just received seed investment from Tata Chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata.

Goodfellows creates intergenerational friendships between the elderly of India and compassionate young minds by making them accompany the grandpals on errands, tutor them on technology, embark on experiences such as eating at a restaurant or watching a new film.

In its Beta phase, Goodfellows has been working successfully with 20 elderlies in Mumbai and plans to expand slowly throughout the country without compromising on the quality of its companionship.

Next on its expansion list are Bangalore, Pune, and Chennai.

Who is behind Goodfellows?

Shantanu Naidu, the 28-year-old graduate from Cornell University and the assistant of Ratan Tata (general manager in the office of Ratan Tata), is the brain behind the enterprise. It is now well known that he shares a special bond with Ratan Tata, since he took the role of General Manager in the office of Ratan Tata in 2018.

Speaking on its ideation, Founder of Goodfellows Naidu said, "I don’t know when it began, but I have always had a sense of affection towards the elderly. Over time, looking back at the friends I have, I notice a lot of silver haired, gold hearted people."

"Clearly there has been something about their grounded, wise, and simple ways of looking at life that has brought me joy, and I notice the youth in their eyes as well when we are together."

Naidu previously worked as a design engineer at Tata Elxsi. 

What does the Goodfellows startup do ?

Accompanying the elderly to a doctor's appointment, shopping, going for a walk and spending quality time are among the number of activities for which Goodfellows pairs grandpals with 'grandkids on demand'.

Goodfellows works on a one month free trial basis after which the grandpals can commit to a subscription based personalised plan.

The organization does offer internships and employment for young graduates seeking to implement their learnings in this sector.

During the beta testing period, it received 800 applications from youngsters who are looking to work for Goodfellows.

Importance of Companionship

Highlighting the significance of real and loving companionship during the last stage of one's life, Indian Industrialist and Philanthropist Ratan Tata said," You don't know what it is to be lonely, until you spend time alone wishing for companionship.

"I also feel that you don't mind getting old until you get old, and then you find it's a different world, and a world of genuine feelings for one another, and the good natured companionship that we all we take for granted, I found that it takes a lot more than that," he said.

In India, 15 million senior citizens live alone either due to the death of their partner or because of movement of families for work reasons, the company said.

Ratan Tata looks ahead to see Goodfellows growing into something that would change the lives of people.


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