This startup founded by an IIT Kharagpur alumnus provides dunzo-like service to senior citizens
Family WhatsApp groups, video chats, and phone calls have made communication with family members easier for those who stay away from home. But it isn’t easy to replicate the smaller tasks you would do when at home, like the sudden run to grocer, or walk in the park with your parents.
This was something Sohail Khan found challenging in all his 18 years away from home. Small things like helping his mother in Kolkata go shopping or visiting a doctor, or finding an electrician were issues. And coordinating over the phone to carry out these tasks from a different city was difficult.
Sohail realised that the only services available for elderly people was restricted to healthcare. It led him, along with Gourav Goyal, to launch EvrCare in 2019. EvrCare is an artificial intelligence (AI)-based hyperlocal support system through which one can take care of the assistance, companionship, and wellness needs of senior citizens from any part of the world.
The company is headquartered in Singapore and launched in India this year. It offers a myriad of services for parents and senior citizens in Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Calcutta. Also, it has virtual plans for senior citizens across India.
How it began
Sohail and Gourav met at a startup generator program run by Antler, Singapore. When the duo interviewed over 300 senior citizens and their children, they realised there was an inherent difference in the needs of the senior citizens and what their children perceived as the needs of their parents.
“While the children worried about their parents’ health the most, the parents’ needs were social and assistance related. They wanted to spend time productively, have more avenues to meet more people and needed someone to help them whenever they got stuck in their daily tasks. Even when they had a maid or a cook, they wanted someone who could supervise them,” says Sohail.
The two found that close to 30 percent of all senior citizens in India live alone. If you look at those living with partners, this number is as high as 50 percent. With the increasing migrant nature of work, this number is going to only increase.
Sohail realised that this was not just his problem. There are millions of Indians who are having the same issues as him in taking care of their parents and have nowhere to turn to. Thus, EvrCare was born.
An IIT Kharagpur graduate, Sohail started his career with the Fortune 500 company - JLL. He is also an MBA graduate from IIM Lucknow. He has worked with the likes of HealthCare at HOME, a Dabur initiative, and has also been part of the core team at TVF until 2019, when he joined the tech incubator Antler after getting the idea of EvrCare.
Gourav on the other hand was the Lead Engineer at Samsung R&D Institute, India, with over five years of experience in building dynamic web projects, mobile apps, and desktop software.
How the platform works
The aim of EvrCare is to help senior citizens with anything, anywhere, and anytime. The five areas the team works on are assistance, companionship, wellness, healthcare, and social experiences.
On the assistance front, EvrCare provides assisted travel, in-home assistance, and tech-related support for senior citizens. Travel assistance includes taking you to the doctor, bank visits, visits to places of worship, shopping, airport pick up and drop, etc.
In-home assistance covers every kind of help imaginable inside the house like evening walks, getting groceries, bill payments, filling of forms, writing emails, reorganising home, getting packages, helping you in managing things when relatives or friends come over at home, etc.
In terms of technology, EvrCare helps senior citizens in learning how to use social media platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp, any help related to computer or mobile phone, installing new apps, removing junk, etc. There are teams of helpers who work with the senior citizens.
For companionship, wellness, and social experiences, there is a team of 'EvrCare Friends', who through an AI-based infrastructure are mapped for the suitable senior citizens based on their personality, needs, and interests.
Building a network of EvrCare Friends
All candidates are white-collar professionals who go through a five-stage psychographic and behavioural evaluation before a background check so that complete security and reliability can be ensured.
The challenge lies in choosing the right people from the crowd. To tackle this, EvrCare follows a stringent selection process to choose EvrCare Friends. The whole selection process begins with virtual psychometric and behavioural tests.
Secondly, after the initial screening, a background check is conducted which includes physical verification, criminal record check, and a reference check. The company admits only white-collar professionals who have a minimum undergraduate degree as their education qualification. The acceptance rate is less than 10 percent.
Anyone can avail Evrcare’s concierge of services through their helpline number or web platform. People can book their services for any kind of needs they have and by using ML, the platform connects them with the right EvrCare Friend.
“The EvrCare Friends don’t just help them with the service but are also involved in the whole process. For example, when they assist you in travel, they pick your bags, they open the doors for you, they help you navigate in the crowd, help you find the places and speak for you wherever required. When they are dropping you back home, they make sure that you are inside the house and have had a glass of water before they leave,” explains Sohail.
The business model
The customer is charged on an hourly basis and has to pay for the number of hours taken to complete the task. The platform allows people to pay, book, and monitor services in real-time from any part of the world.
Customers can monitor the activity via live location sharing and through real-time updates of the service on WhatsApp as well. Evrcare is planning to launch its mobile app next month.
“The company also has corporate plans which are beneficial for corporates considering 80 percent of the working population is working away from their hometowns. These plans are customised keeping in mind the employee’s needs and their wish to care for their family members and parents,” says Sohail.
The company has partnered with RWAs and platforms like Adda to provide their services to the elders living in residential areas.
Though EvrCare charges per hour, irrespective of the task or service request, in case of a regular requirement the service is converted into a subscription format.
“This model works on the quality of service and the trust people have in the brand. Both take time to build. We spend around two to three weeks shortlisting and onboarding every EvrCare member to ensure security and quality aspect of the business. Hence, we see 20 percent of the business coming from word of mouth and an increasing number of repeat customers as well,” adds Sohail.
The revenue and market
Sohail says as the team receives more data, it will be able to get AI for service prediction and more accurate mapping. Currently the average transaction value of the platform is at Rs 300 for essential deliveries and Rs 3,000 for subscription-based consumers. The average margin per transaction is 50 percent and the total registered service providers are 500. The team claims to have seen a 2x month-on-month growth until now.
The EvrCare services are paid for by the family member/children booking the service and is used by the parents/senior citizens. The workforce gets paid 40-50 percent of the service which gives EvrCare a gross margin of 50-60 percent per service undertaken.
“Our target is any Indian who has parents who are either lonely or want to use their free time to do something productive. Since it is a completely new market, we are at a very nascent stage,” says Sohail
He adds there are 30 million+ NRIs across the globe whose parents are living away. “Even if one of them pays $100 per year for the care of their parents, EvrCare can potentially hit ARR of $30 million. Also, urban India has a working population of 10 million with a salary of Rs 8 lakh. The SAM for this market is $1.2b billion,” adds Sohail.
At present, startups like BeautifulYears, Seniority, Senior Shelf, and Silver Talkies are focussed on senior citizens as their target audience. There is also ElderSmart, where one can shop. An IBEF report states that the senior care industry has been growing fast and expanding, and is believed to touch 1.4 million people by 2020.
“Our closest competitors are companies like EMOHA, Anvayaa, and IVH Senior Care. However, they are still healthcare first companies, while EvrCare is assistance first. Our services are complementary to healthcare companies which allows us to partner with companies like Portea and Nightingales,” says Sohail. The startup has raised seed funding led by Antler.
Evrcare says it plans to build India’s largest hyperlocal elder and helper communities.
“The company is targeting expansion of services to 25 cities by FY 2021-2022. EvrCare is also working towards including financial and legal support as part of its services suite,” says Sohail.
Edited by Javed Gaihlot