In an interview with Connected to India, he recalled how his efforts to ensure better health facilities and management of care for the elderly in India had begun over a decade ago.
Before this venture, the MBA graduate from the Indian School of Business (ISB) had worked with Antara Senior Living Max India Group, Jones Lang LaSalle, and others.
During the pandemic first wave, the 70-member team in the National Capital Region (NCR) launched #MissionEldersFirst within 48 hours of the lockdown came into effect, leveraging their cutting-edge technology backbone to manage the needs of the elderly without violating social-distancing norms.
The four-point tech solution included features to assist the elderly and deliver daily essentials like medicines, groceries, etc, through the channel partners and verified community volunteers, online access to a panel of doctors for consultation, 24/7 emergency coordination with nearby hospitals and ambulance providers along with source of authentic elder specific information and online interactive engagement programmes for emotional support and well-being.
“Our brand name EMOHA not only stands for ‘Emotional Happiness’, but is also an anagram of ‘a home’. We were familiar with the concepts of stay at home and work from home long before the lockdown. EMOHA got tested by fire in 2020 when COVID started. Our experience, coupled with the founding team members with expertise across clinical, logistics, technology and administration with respect to eldercare, was instrumental in helping us strategise and quickly think on our feet,” Saumyajit shared.
He also stated that he was in contact with many NRI clients across the world who were concerned about their parents back home during the pandemic.
“Close to one-fourth of our clients are overseas Indians and that number is creeping up to one-third,” he added.
Saumyajit has been the founding member of the CII Task Force on Senior Care and the founding board member of the Association of Senior Living India. He describes EMOHA as a ‘connected community’ for elders and their families, adding that their support base and customers have grown due to word of mouth.
“We offer 12 services for elders across over 80 cities and towns across India, either through our own teams or with local emergency partners,” Roy said.
With the new working model, the startup is looking to expand pan-India, working on building more alliances with corporates and government bodies.
“Over the last year, we’ve ramped up the engine well. Elders across the country are enjoying 16 programmes a day through our app and platform,” he added.
Discussing the growth of the elder care industry in India, Saumyajit said that in 2009 there were only six firms that offered these services across India, and the number has grown by a factor of 10 today.
Rather than focussing on traditional areas of elder care such as old age homes, EMOHA today offers on its app a one-stop for 24/7 emergency coordination, access to a range of healthcare support and access to elder carers, besides over 16 activities and events online daily.
“The current market is in an infant stage, but it is also at a responsible stage. The right kind of players can make a difference. I see a lot of interest from seasoned investors in expanding the elder care market,” Saumyajit said.
One of the unique points about EMOHA is that it is primarily a digital-based company, allowing it greater flexibility and potential to provide services to elders across India, irrespective of their physical location.
“All 40 million urban elders across the country can benefit from EMOHA,” he added. “ For us, the ability to provide this sort of roaming service is a very powerful value.”
He also emphasised that one of the biggest blind spots for both young and old is ignoring the needs of elders. Saumyajit said that, in his experience, having a degree of elder care support should be considered a norm rather than a special service.
“Don’t let your parents be vulnerable. Take advantage of the digital and communication tools we have available today to make your elders’ lives more comfortable and safe. That comfort is priceless,” he said, signing off.