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In Conversation With Ajay Parkhe

Nirmala Garimella

Ajay has been in the US for the last 30 years. His 86-year old mother resides in Pune and he is all too familiar with the issue of supporting a parent in India. He came to the US after doing a BTech in IIT Kanpur, has a PhD in engineering and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University. He worked at McKinsey & Company for 6 years and at General Electric Healthcare for 14 years prior to joining Assist4Parents as Director. He and his wife reside in Chicago and have 2 young daughters.

What prompted you to start this company? Who are the people behind it? 

The main reason to start was seeing our own parents age in India. They could have had a lot more comfortable life if the services around them were better coordinated. Many parents are in the same predicament and we want to make a difference in their lives. The people behind this venture are myself, my co-founder Sameer Joshi and our Pune CEO, Neelesh Onkar. Our mission is “Peace of mind” for the son/daughter who is not in India and “age gracefully at home” for the parent in India. With so many young professionals going abroad to work, many households in India need this service.

Services are focused on a certain geography. How many clients do you serve now?

 We just began in Jan 2021 and have 10 customer in Pune. Our first focus area is Pune and we will expand to other cities in Q2/Q3 this year.

What sets you apart from any other agency? Three things that come to mind?

 We set ourselves up to be “your proxy” in India and provide the ability for parents to age gracefully in their own homes. What sets up apart?

1. Level of trust. We know the level of trust that the son/daughter is placing in us. Since we are from the same backgrounds as our customers, we know their requirements;

2. Quality of hires in India. We are going to grow only at a pace that allows us to hire the most ethical and empathetic employees. One cannot say that about many services in India;

3. We are a “white glove” service and customize the offering for each customer. A parent at 65 who is in good health needs very different services compared to someone at 85 and failing health.

Could you share one example on how your team sets up a service for a client.- map it out for our readers? 

Step 1: We discuss the exact needs of the parent on Zoom calls with the son/daughter;

Step 2: We visit the parents house in India and gather all the basic information regarding their emergency contacts, health issues, key requirements;

Step 3: We give access to our Assist4Parents portal to the son/daughter and they can input other vital information;

Step 4: We begin the service. We assign a Care Specialist to the household who is responsible along with the Pune CEO to deliver the services. The Care Specialist will visit the house at least 2-3 times a week and more if needed. The purpose is to meet the parents and do the tasks that are relevant for them. The tasks vary: Find and check on household help, support with temporary nursing, take them to the doctor, help them with banking services, troubleshoot their internet connection, install grab bars to allow safe walking;

Step 5: We conduct periodic Zoom calls with the son/daughter and refine the services based on the feedback; On-going step: All the activities and spending on behalf of the parents is updated on the portal. The son/daughter can track the progress on-line.

What have been your initial challenges? 

Some of the challenges we are seeing are: 1. COVID is making it difficult to easily visit parents. We are very careful and want to make sure we protect the parents so are limiting the visits and staying 6 feet away with masks. However, it dampens the personal touch; 2. We are learning that scaling to new cities will take time. We are all from Pune and have a very good window on the service providers. As we go to Mumbai, Bangalore, Gurgaon, etc. we will have to replicate that network.

Your Fee is based on the services or it is turnkey? 

We charge a monthly subscription fee for the coordination service and charge at-cost for any specialized services like nursing, doctor trips, home remodeling, etc.

Where do you hope to see the future of this industry and the company’s growth?

 We are growing pretty rapidly in Pune. We see this as a long-term trend. Once we get the model fine-tuned in Pune, we will grow to the other metros.

Finally what is the best way for readers interested in contacting you ? 

We would ask readers to visit our website www.assist4parents.com and email us at info@assist4parents.com





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Ajit Parkhe

Sameer Joshi

Neelesh Onkar

Dr Anjali Chouhan

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