Nehul Malhotra, Rajat Jain, Geetanshu Singla founded Genwise in 2023 to transform the lifestyle of senior citizens and make them digital-ready in the areas of financial management, social engagement, healthcare, just to count a few
GenWise recently raised $3.5 Mn in a seed funding round led by Matrix Partners India
Given the slow pace of the overall agecare market, the GenWise founders have real opportunities in this segment to cause multiple disruptions
Despite forging its way into a digital-only future with a brigade of 700 Mn internet users, and growing, India seems to be struggling to democratise the web fully. While there are reasons galore behind this, one of the key challenges is digital inclusion, which still counts a larger chunk of elderly people out of its ambit.
According to a report by Robocash group, as many as 62 Mn individuals (55 years and older) are yet to embrace the internet, though this is projected to happen by 2025.
Understanding the gap, a group of former BharatPe executives is building an app to make digital solutions more inclusive for the elderly. Their initiative comes at a time when there is a flurry of digital-first startups focussed on GenZ and millennials but only a hand full of ventures transforming the lives of the elderly with the internet and new-age tech solutions.
In their effort to fully democratise digital means and solutions, Nehul Malhotra, Rajat Jain, and Geetanshu Singla founded GenWise in 2023, with a focus on transforming the lifestyle of senior citizens of India and making them digital-ready in the areas of financial management, social engagement, healthcare, just to count a few.
“We basically got the idea by seeing the experience of our parents and seniors in the family. In the last 10-15 years, India started growing rapidly in the digital aspect and almost everything is now available on the phone. However, elders have been left behind in this age of digital transformation. It is not that they don’t know how to use the product, it is just that the products are not being made keeping their needs or their way of working in mind,” Malhotra told Inc42.
According to Malhotra, there is a noticeable lack of startups focussing on the elderly population, giving GenWise an opportunity to tap into the market, which comprises individuals in the 55-75 age bracket, many of whom are actively seeking to adopt new technologies.
Malhotra emphasised that this age group possesses a network that is 10 times larger than that of individuals below 35 years of age. Additionally, since they are already familiar with smartphone usage, GenWise would require less time and effort to educate them.
How GenWise Wants To Become The Lifestyle App For Senior Citizens
Currently in its public beta phase, the ‘lifestyle app for senior citizens’ went live on June 1, 2023, however, is running on an invite-only basis. Its App Store launch is still a work in progress.
According to the cofounders, one of the prime offerings of the app is its ‘risk-free passbook’ feature for the elderly.
“We have seen that elders in this country are not very savvy users of internet banking. Even for a bank account statement update, they visit banks. And some of the reasons for this issue are difficult user interfaces and the mindset that their money might get stolen online,” Malhotra said.
This is where Genwise has tried to bridge the gap, instilling confidence in the older generation. The app’s risk-free passbook’ feature enables its users to view bank account statements sans transactions. Further, the app allows users to add a voice note or comment for every transaction visible on the passbook to keep a track of expenses.
Interestingly, the app also offers a feature of personal assistant, which is aimed at improving the technical know-how of the elderly. The feature helps its users learn anything that is done online — ranging from using social media platforms to booking cabs and ordering food online. Besides, the app also offers features like medicine reminders, and WhatsApp greetings for easy Whatsapp forwards through voice notes or texts.
“The idea to have a personal assistant feature is to help the elderly learn everything on their own through one-on-one sessions at their comfort. Many times they are not comfortable asking their children or they are not willing to learn in a group, rather they want to learn in their private space,” Malhotra said.
How Does GenWise Plan To Acquire Customers And Make Money?
Although the app is not being monetised yet, the founders are mulling a subscription model. While some of the features on the app will always remain free to use, GenWise will have subscription plans and micro-transaction options for more advanced features.
“We are mostly targeting elders as our potential customers, later we will look at other generations who may want to use Genwise for the elders of the family. We also think this segment needs a bit of physical touch. Hence, offering activities in apartments will give us good mileage,” Malhotra said.
Currently, the app is witnessing most of its footfall originating from Tier I cities, which is also its key market.
GenWise recently raised $3.5 Mn in a seed funding round led by Matrix Partners India. The funding round also saw participation from angel investors such as CRED’s Kunal Shah, former BharatPe CEO Suhail Sameer, among others.
What Challenges Await GenWise In The Long Term?
According to the founders, unlike the segments that offer multiple discounts and cashbacks, they are operating in a segment that has a very high trust and loyalty barrier and could take a long time to fully unlock.
“This segment may be tough to acquire but easy to retain. If the users see value and comfort in our offerings, they will be happy to spend,” Malhotra said.
Further, while GenWise currently does not have a direct competitor in the market, there are several platforms that allow the elderly use similar offerings.
In addition, GenWise operates in a price-conscious market, which could present a challenge in attracting premium consumers unless additional features are offered to capture their interest.
Recent startups like Goodfellows, which offers companionship as a service, and GetSetUp, an upskilling platform for older adults, have garnered attention. As time progresses, more adults in the 55-plus age group will likely embrace technology to enhance their daily activities and combat loneliness.
Given the slow pace of the overall agecare market, the GenWise founders have real opportunities in this segment to cause multiple disruptions. Nevertheless, going forward, it will be interesting to see how GenWise plans to be relevant to this audience in its mission of empowering elders and making them tech-savvy.