This agetech startup from India wants to be synonymous with ‘khyaal’ or holistic care for the elderly

Founded in 2020, agetech startup Khyaal is providing holistic care in six broad categories including emotional, essentials, nutritional, digital literacy, insurance, and medical. It offers a simple way for children who are away to care for their elders and provide them a healthy ageing experience.
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Caring for the elderly has become tougher with time. Gone are the days of multigenerational ‘joint’ Indian households where the elders in the family had all their needs well cared for. Today, with the drastic changes in family structures, the rise of urbanisation, and the ultra-busy lives of the younger generation, providing holistic care for the elderly has become an even bigger challenge -- one that agetech startup Khyaalis on a mission to solve.

Khyaal, which means ‘care’ in Hindi, aims to do just that -- prioritise and deliver holistic care for the elderly by providing them well-rounded physical, mental, social, and financial support. 

Founded by Hemanshu Jain, Pritish Nelleri, and Alok Soni, Khyaal provides virtual services for the elderly through different subscription plans that cater to six broad care categories: emotional, essentials, nutritional, digital literacy, insurance, and medical. 

Khyaal Co-founders Hemanshu Jain, Pritish Nelleri, and Alok Soni with a few members of the team

Currently, there are several players operating in the elderly care segment in India but these are largely focused on providing physical care, with hardly any catering to the emotional needs of the elders.

With the large majority of the young generation living away from their parents or having immigrated or moved to other cities, Khyaal’s holistic care solutions -- which prioritises their emotional well-being -- provides an easy way for children to ensure their parents and elders are well cared for.

Khyaal is solving for the current elderly population living in the urban areas of India. They make up around 10 percent, or over 140 million, of the total Indian population. This number is expected to touch 20 percent by 2050. Senior care market in India is valued at nearly $10 billion and growing at more than 20 percent CAGR.

How Khyaal was born 

Khyaal was started in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic after Hemanshu saw this need first-hand over the years. Speaking with YourStory, Hemanshu says he encountered this problem personally when he found it difficult to take care of his father every time he had to travel away from the city for work. 

Knowing just how many elders either live away from their children, who may be staying in another part of the city or may have moved to a different city or country for work, Hemanshu was convinced that he had to find a solution that makes it easy for children to care for their elders while they are away and enhances their quality of life.

Hemanshu, a serial tech-entrepreneur whose first startup Diabeto was acquired by Livongo Health in 2017, then teamed up with Pritish, who has also founded Mumbai-based Convercycle and Nellerism Ventures, and Alok, who was previously part of the core team at YourStory, to launch the beta programme, the successful completion of which resulted in the launch of Khyaal in early 2021.

Khyaal Co-founders (L to R): Pritish Nelleri, Hemanshu Jain, Alok Soni

“It all started with a simple beta programme in mid-2020. We began enrolling senior citizens, learned and standardised all the problem statements shared by them, and tried to come up with solutions. We created a subscription-based service for the elderly. Usually, the children sign up for Khyaal subscription and present to their parents as a gift,” Hemanshu says.

 

Khyaal recently wrapped up its Beta programme which it ran for almost six months. “We got excellent feedback, support and conversions of over 70 percent from it. It's been a couple of weeks since our launch and there's a strong pipeline of leads from India and abroad,” discloses Alok. 

Just as the Khyaal team expected, the majority of the interest is coming from the Indian metros and countries like the USA, Australia, and Canada

Khyaal subscription plans and traction

The subscription plans allow users to choose between differently priced Basic, VIP, and Premium care services for one member or more for durations ranging from a quarter, six months to a year. These are priced as low as Rs 6,999 for one member for three months under the Basic plan to Rs 14,999 under the Premium plan.

The team is working to provide more flexibility to the subscribers where they can customise their own plans. The agetech startup's subscription plans are typically bought by the children who gift these services to their parents. 

The support and care services provided include emotional care in the form of regular care/companionship calls for the elders with dedicated Khyaal caregivers, digital literacy and empowerment via online community events and learning sessions, nutritional guidelines and dietary suggestions by the nutritionists, medical care such as teleconsultation, appointment booking and medication reminders, and essential care such as bill payments and online ordering for food, grocery, and medicine, among others.

 

Once the elderly citizens are onboarded, they receive a welcome kit, which is personalised based on details shared by the families of the elders. Following the onboarding, a dedicated Khyaal caregiver is assigned to each end-user, who calls them on a regular basis and provides them with the support they need. 

 

In addition to the various care services provided under the different subscription plans, a summary report or update is shared with the family members on a weekly basis. Beyond these services, the team provides additional well-thought-out gifts and measures to personalise the experience further for the elders and their families.

For example, when one Khyaal elder who received a smartphone as a gift from her son as part of an exchange programme was anxious when she was unable to set it up on time, a Khyaal caregiver helped her through the whole process. 

In another heartwarming experience, one 66-year-old Khyaal member rekindled her love for crochet and knitting and eventually started her own crochet business after the Khyaal team gifted her crochet set during the pandemic.

And that’s not all. The Khyaal team has also made the birthdays of some of its members memorable by organising surprise birthday celebrations. More recently, in the wake of concerns and questions around the COVID-19 vaccination drive, Khyaal has organised special online sessions with medical experts to address these questions.

“I feel good every time I speak to a Khyaal caregiver. Standing true to its name, the Khyaal program takes care of us in the true sense. I never celebrate my birthday. But this year, Khyaal made my birthday really special. It was one of the best days of my life. When needed, Khyaal is very prompt at providing the required services. The Khyaal caregivers keep enquiring about my well-being regularly so I am assured that whenever I will need anything, Khyaal will be there for me,” says one Khyaal end-user. 

Already, Khyaal’s end-users are spread across the country, in places such as Kolkata, Guwahati, Mumbai, Behrampur (Odisha), and Pulwama (Kashmir), and the company has crossed $1000 MRR in subscriptions in its first month of operation.

Future plans and targets 

Now a 15-member team, including three co-founders and five caregivers, Khyaal hires caregivers locally to enable multi-language support across the country.  Going forward, the agetech startup plans to expand its team across all functions, including engineering and product, operations, and sales, to support its growth. 

The Mumbai-based eldercare startup, which is raising funding to fuel its future growth plans, is targeting more than 100 percent QoQ growth and a multi-million dollar ARR in the next two years. With India’s senior population expected to grow to 30 crores by 2050, Khyaal plans to tie up with more than 50 different partners across the country to provide the holistic care and support that elders need.

Khyaal is currently building its mobile application which is expected to be launched within the next quarter.  Once launched, users will be able to book services and track progress reports real time using the app. 

Apart from Khyaal, some other notable players in the elderly care segment include EMOHA Elder Care, ElderAid, Seniority, ElderEase, and Alserv.

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