Ratan Tata invests in companionship startup Goodfellows: Why he invested, the business model and other details

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Ratan Tata has announced an undisclosed investment into a startup called Goodfellows that offers companionship to senior citizens as a service. The octogenarian industrialist has been an active backer of startups ever since retiring from the helm of the salt-to-software Tata Group and has invested in 50-plus companies till now. Here’s about his new startup investment Goodfellows.
Goodfellows founder is a Tata employee
The latest investee company is founded by Shantanu Naidu. Thirty-year-old Naidu, a Cornell University alumnus, is a general manager in Tata’s office and has been assisting him since 2018. He shares Tata’s love for dogs and strays and this is his fourth outing as an entrepreneur, which includes a venture around pets. Naidu said there are 15 million elders who are by themselves right now, which represents the opportunity for his newest venture.
Ratan Tata on why he invested in Goodfellows
“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,” said Tata. “You do not know what it is like to be lonely until you spend time alone wishing for companionship,” the 84-year Tata, a bachelor, said, appreciating Naidu’s ideation and also forgiving his mentee for the time he spends away from the office. Tata said that no one minds getting old till you actually get old, and also added that getting good-natured companionship, which we take for granted, is a challenge. Tata said he would be delighted for this service to grow and mature into something which innovatively changes people’s lives.
What is Goodfellows business model
The business model of Goodfellows is a freemium subscription. The first month is free with only the goal of having the Grandpal experience this service. From the second month onward, the company charges Rs 5,000 as the base subscription fees per month. The company says that the subscription fee has been decided based on the limited affordability of pensioners.
The startup hires young graduates having the right skills of empathy and emotional intelligence to ‘work’ as the senior citizen clients’ companions, and ease the day for them with any tasks or just talk with them. Typically, a companion would visit a client three times a week, spending up to four hours per visit. Naidu said that the experience till now has suggested that the companions do a myriad of tasks with the clients, which may include playing carrom, reading the newspaper for them or even taking naps together. The company is stil in its in its beta phase. Presently, it is working with 20 elders for the last six months in Mumbai and is planning to offer services in Pune, Chennai and Bengaluru next.
How does Goodfellows pick candidates for companionship
Naidu told news agency PTI that he has developed a model with the help of psychologists to select the right candidate to act as a companion for a senior citizen.
He admitted that it is difficult to “fabricate” the bond between an elder and a grandchild, but exuded confidence that the diligence with which the companions will be hired will ensure that the authentic bonds can be formed.
Goodfellows founder on Ratan Tata
Naidu addresses Tata Sons‘ Chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata as a boss, a mentor and also a friend. He called Tata an intuitive investor, who looks at the relevance of a business idea for a broader community or the society before backing a company, which is unlike a financial investor who comes for financial returns alone. He said this would be among his last ventures and also made it clear that the top priority remains the responsibilities in Tata’s personal office.


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