This Chennai-based startup is helping the elderly live an independent life amid coronavirus
Senior citizens and those with pre-existing health conditions such as blood pressure and diabetes among others are more vulnerable to contracting the COVID-19 infection. With people now stepping out of their houses after more than two months of being under lockdown, coronavirus cases are on the rise. During this time, taking care of the elderly and keeping them safe is the need of the hour. While families are doing their best to keep the elders safe, the senior citizens who are living by themselves have been facing several difficulties.
Chennai-based senior care startup Alserv has taken up the onus to care for the elderly population and help them navigate through the pandemic. Founded in January 2020 by Saravanan Adiseshan, Jagadish Ramamoorthy, along with Atul Jagadish, the startup is aimed to assist the senior citizens and help them live an independent life by getting them the necessities from the comfort of their homes.
According to the official website, Alserv is a part of the Allsec Group of companies which was co-founded by Jagadish Ramamoorthy and Saravanan Adiseshan in 1998. The duo exited from Allsec in June 2019. Following this, Jagadish, Saravanan, and Jagadish’s son Atul are now working to help the senior citizens through Alserv.
“We wanted to create a service-oriented startup which will leverage technology to help the elder community. However, it is also very difficult for one particular startup to offer the gamut of services needed by the elderly community. Thus we created an aggregator platform for all different kinds of services to come in. The users have to use just one platform to order from a range of services such as food, grocery, healthcare, house helps etc,” says Jagadish Ramamoorthy, Co-founder and Director, Alserv.
Providing assisted-living services
Speaking with YourStory, Jagadish explained that the startup provides elder care under five categories – food and catering, medical, security, housekeeping and maintenance, and concierge services.
Alserv connects the users with vendors to deliver home-cooked meals at their address. The users can opt for monthly, weekly, or daily meal delivery service. The users can also connect with catering service providers for functions or events. Users can also book cooks or order grocery supplies using the app.
The startup also connects the users with doctors and healthcare providers to get diagnostic tests or checkups done at home. They can also get medicines delivered to them or hire trained nurses to monitor health. Apart from these, they can also request support to accompany them to their doctor visits.
Using the Alserv app or website, the senior citizen community can request for security services such as guards, routine checks, safety audits, and supervision. The users can also hire household maintenance services and house helps for chores. Apart from this, the startup also connects them with vendors for concierge services like ticket booking, logistics, event management etc.
Apart from meeting the basic needs, users can also ask for help to accompany them to their trip to the bank or temple or hospitals. They can also ask for people to pay their bills online in case they are stuck and find it difficult to understand the technical processes.
While technology has definitely enabled users to get services at their doorstep, the idea might still appear difficult for some elderly people who are not well versed in using mobiles and apps. “At Alserv, apart from the app or website, the users are also assigned to a personal relationship manager whom they can call through the common number and state their needs. The assigned manager will book it on their behalf,” Jagadish says.
He also adds that personal relationship managers are like friends for users. “The managers are expected to call up the assigned users regularly every two or three days to check in with them and provide emotional support. This aspect is not any special feature or service but rather a basic responsibility of the managers,” he explains.
Helping our elders fight COVID-19
He said that Alserv was launched to help the elder community become more independent and live a quality life with the essentials and care delivered at their doorsteps. However, the coronavirus restrictions have upped the demand for online services.
According to the co-founder, the company saw a surge in demand for services, especially during the lockdown. He noted that the demand was specifically high for cooked meals, grocery supplies, and medical services.
He says that though the coronavirus outbreak has led to an increased reliance on online services, Alserv will continue to be significant even after the situation gets settled. The aim of the company is to make essential services easily accessible to the elderly so that they can leave the house freely for entertainment or recreation purposes, and not just to buy essentials, he adds.
Business and more
Jagadish said that Alserv was launched with an initial investment of Rs 5 crore and the startup is currently self-funded. He added that eventually, the startup will raise money as and when needed. Currently, the Alserv team includes 15 members.
Alserv follows a subscription-based model where the users can sign up for Rs 1,000 for monthly subscriptions. Following this, the members can access different kinds of services from the listed vendors. The co-founder also said that Alserv itself does not provide any services as they do not want to be a competition for the vendors. It is just an aggregating platform for elderly users to reach out to the vendors more easily. Apart from the subscription fees, the startup also charges a minimum rate from the vendors for connecting them with the users.
The co-founder claims that Alserv currently serves somewhere between 200 to 300 users across Chennai. Speaking of future plans, he adds that once the model picks up in Chennai, they would like to expand its presence across India and provide services in other cities as well.
Some other notable players in the senior care segment are EMOHA Elder Care, ElderAid, Seniority, ElderEase, and Life Circle Senior Services, among others. Gurugram-based Emoha Elder Care is also helping deliver essentials to the elderly amid the pandemic. It launched #MissionEldersFirst initiative which allows people to register as volunteers and run errands for the seniors within their locality.
Edited by Kanishk Singh