This 14-year-old from Chennai is enabling senior citizens to become tech-savvy

Tanvi Arvind, a Grade IX student of Sishya School, Chennai, has started TechEdEn, a services startup that helps senior citizens to be tech-positive and independent.

Many of us have seen seniors in our homes trying to grapple with technology - whether it’s downloading apps, ordering from their phones, or doing transactions online.

Not adept with advances in technology, they often seek the help of the younger members of the family, who sometimes are either impatient or don’t have the time to teach them.

Tanvi Arvind is helping senior citizens become tech savvy

This is where Tanvi Arvind, a 14-year-old student of Sishya School in Chennai, decided to step in with TechEdEn in 2019, a services startup that aims to Educate and Enable Technology for the “tech-challenged”.

Starting from her own family

The idea for TechEdEn came from her own experience.

“My grandparents live alone in Bengaluru. Whenever I used to visit them, I saw them struggling with technology. They had two smartphones, two iPads, and a shared laptop,” she says.

On every visit, she set about educating and enabling them with the help of simple steps on the use of technology, and how it could be used to its fullest potential.

“Each time I taught them something new, they were awestruck and amazed at how life had changed for them forever, with tech,” she adds.

When she saw the joy and happiness these simple tech lessons brought to her grandparents, she decided to start a venture to ensure many more senior citizens benefit from learning basic technology!

With EdTechEn, Tanvi teaches senior citizens basic uses of technology like booking a ride service like Uber or Ola, using Swiggy to order food, learning how to navigate Zoom and Facetime to connect with their loved ones, online travel booking, using Google Maps, and installing and using social media platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, etc. 

“More now, than ever before, with an emerging ‘new-normal’ of everything moving online and social distancing, I believe these services will find a significant value with the target audience - people of the older generation who did not have the opportunity to learn and use digital technology while growing up. They will surely need ways to go about manoeuvring the fast-changing tech and digital world, swiftly. TechEdEn’s services enable their connection to the e-world, providing convenience at their fingertips,” she says.

Helping overcome fear and inhibitions

Tanvi started off with on-site services as planned for the first year, with a lean set-up. By going to clients’ place ‘in-person’ as a ‘tutor’, she has taught and hand-held 68 seniors, about 25 percent of whom were paranoid about getting started and connecting to the digital world, by helping them overcome their fear and inhibitions.

She has also taught them basics like printing at home, connecting to the internet, using applications on device and internet, to about 30 of them transacting with service providers such as Uber, Swiggy, and Amazon from the comfort of their homes. She charges Rs 500 for a one-hour session and for a group session of four (in an apartment complex), Rs 300.

The young entrepreneur feels happy to be a part of this transformation in people’s lives.

TechEdEn has been a real boon in this day and age, remarks 70-year-old Ms Chitnis, one of Tanvi’s customers.

With help from her sister and an associate who volunteered her time, Tanvi has clocked a top line of Rs 28,400 in the first year itself. She plans to introduce tele support in Year 2 and online support by Year 3, by hiring enthusiastic and tech-savvy school students, which is yet to take off.  

“There is good traction that has been built with positive customer feedback and word-of-mouth referrals from existing clients. The excitement in the adult circles within the social network for the uptake of TechEdEn is palpable! I feel very bullish about TechEdEn’s future,” she says.

However, Tanvi also realises she has to add capacity to deliver to a growing customer base. Those are her challenges for Year 2 and 3. 

The impetus to start something on her own also came from an interesting video Tanvi watched of a 13-year-old successful kid-preneur Asia Newson, based in Detroit, who started selling candles and later her own handmade ones. She met her sales target of $70,000 in the very first year, in 2016! She has since diversified and evolved her business. This inspired Tanvi to think big and come up with her own idea.

"The 20 weeks I spent at the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) also gave me a quick and broad overview of what goes into setting-up of a business, with the understanding of marketing and finance functions. The field trips helped me understand how different businesses have different success metrics and methods of operation. My mentors also gave me constructive feedback on the business,” she says.

Tanvi surely is excited about tapping into the ‘silver generation’ population, where learning technology is not just an important tool to navigate their daily lives, but also an absolute necessity as we face a future of social distancing and being confined to our homes for longer periods of time.

Edited by Megha Reddy


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