How this San Francisco-based platform is enabling older adults in India to learn, socialise, and be productive
Deval Delivala was among the first 20 employees at Uber and during her eight-year-long stint at the ride-hailing platform, she helped navigate the international market. However, even during vacations, she didn’t stop working as she was the go-to person for all tech-related issues that her parents faced.
So, when she heard of Neil D’Souza and Lawrence Kosick starting GetSetUp, Deval was happy to be on board as an early investor.
“So many tools and apps get launched and the older generation has been kept at bay. For some reason, we never focus on teaching older adults how to use these tools and I thought that was a very powerful solution and got involved as an investor,” she tells HerStory.
Founded by Neil D’Souza and Lawrence Kosick in August 2019, it was launched in Mumbai, India, in October 2020. Now, as the Senior Vice President of International Markets at GetSetUp, she is taking the San Francisco-based social learning and engagement platform for older adults to newer geographies.
Adding colour to post-retirement life
A former corporate banker, Anjoo Chandiramani has been working at the Mumbai-based NGO Health Education Library for People (HELP) on a part-time basis.
“When a friend asked me to sign up on the platform, I thought it was just another link. But I am happy to have joined because after one session, I signed up as a guide and now I organise classes on human libraries and we talk about how it feels being called an older adult and other issues,” she shares.
She is one of the nearly 30 guides on the platform, all of whom are over 55 years of age, hosting four different types of classes. They are classes on technology where they learn how to use productivity apps and complete simple tasks online, fitness and wellness classes, art and craft, and social networking classes. Artists and poets also hold different classes once a week.
Anita Rogers, who spends about 15 hours a week on the platform learning and teaching, says the engagement has brought out the best in her.
“It is more about what I get to learn from others than what I teach. I teach offbeat classes talking about a painter, or take them on virtual tours to some other places or other special places where we celebrate various occasions like Mother's Day. I have signed up for all kinds of classes - everything from nutrition to exercises, and more,” she says.
During one of her social networking classes last Christmas, Anita got carol singers from Shimla, Chennai, Assam, Gujarat, and across India to sing in their local languages. At present, the class is working on the Indian Wedding Series where they showcase the regional wedding traditions and exchange cultural values and rituals virtually.
“It has also become an opportunity for them to dress up, which has been rare during the pandemic, and they go on to share stories behind their sarees and favourite jewellery they are wearing,” Anita explains. Sometimes, they would just meet up, play word games, sing karaoke songs and dance.
Binda Kanayalkar, who took early retirement after three decades of working in the corporate sector, was among its first guides, and teaches classes on Yoga and wellness, says, “At various occasions, older adults and their family members have been very vocal about how they are glad to have found this platform and don't feel the vacuum in life after retirement.”
“It is a platform to bring out latent talent in people who have been busy and working all their lives. Now we are getting the opportunity to focus on our hobbies and talents. Every day, people are creating something new in the art and craft sessions,” Anjoo shares.
The guides and the teachers agree that these sparkles in the post-retirement life make the minor hiccups and challenges worth it.
While some classes are kept free due to the pandemic, a part of its revenue comes from partnerships with organisations that pay for their members to avail certain classes.
“GetSetUp was launched in the midst of the pandemic which has posed challenges for everyone. We helped by responding to the needs of older adults during this time who were now stuck at home or had limited options for learning, entertainment, and social activities,” she says. Being an online-based platform made the process easier.
Moving ahead, the platform’s goal is to create “a safe space for seniors to be curious and learn without judgments and build an empathetic community.”
Edited by Kanishk Singh