This community of over 250 million has always been underserved by businesses: Club app founder Tapan Mishra

Mumbai: In a first, online startup community for older adults, Evergreen Club has rolled out a social networking platform exclusively for the 50 plus populace called ‘Club’. Designed specifically to create a safe space for the elderly, the ‘Club’ app aids them to network, learn and share their creations with like-minded people from the community. Evergreen Club founder Tapan Mishra spoke to on what propelled him to come up with this concept, and whether the pandemic-fuelled social isolation had anything to do with the app’s rollout.

An alumnus of the London School of Economics and Political Science, Mishra is not a newcomer to this segment, having founded Seniority- a consumer product platform catering to assistive and lifestyle requirements for senior citizens back in August 2016. Being the first mover in this space, Seniority leveraged its market intelligence and expertise to create a carefully curated product portfolio of over 10,000+ SKUs, 100+ brands catering to senior care.

The recently launched social networking feature, 'Club' facilitates the creation of user-generated content (UGC), making it a one-of-its-kind platform designed to help senior citizens live a more fulfilled and empowered life while catering to their social needs and providing a sense of belonging.

Catering to an ‘underserved’ category

“I have been working with this audience for more than five years now,” says Mishra. Interacting with them through various channels, and conducting several focus group discussions (FGDs), he says that he found “loneliness and social isolation” is the biggest issue they face in life.

While we may think that loneliness and social isolation are recent phenomena, age-related loneliness and social isolation issues existed even before (the pandemic), Mishra notes. “It just happened that the issue started getting noticed because everyone could now understand what it felt to be by yourself due to limitations beyond your control,” he adds, referring to the Covid-19 fuelled pandemic.

On whether the pandemic had anything to do with the app’s rollout, Mishra says, “It just happened that our efforts were accentuated to build Evergreen Club since its need was felt by everyone around.” And one year hence, when we hear feedback from our users about our platform, the belief in growing and Evergreen Club strengthens, even more, he asserts.

From his experience of working with this community for the past half-decade, Mishra says he received feedback and complaints about businesses either not taking cognisance of their needs or building products without understanding their needs. “With increasing urbanisation and lifestyle changes, I believe we need to create online safe spaces to address the specific needs of the particular group.”

Mishra believes this community of citizens has been always ‘underserved’. “The number of individuals in this age group is about over 250 million and we know that a considerable portion is tech-enabled if we take the WhatsApp user base as a proxy," he adds.

He’s firmly of the opinion that restricting the offering to the 50 plus age group is not a limiting factor but “a much-needed intervention to build an exclusive platform” for this audience.

“With Evergreen Club, we have been able to understand the needs of our audience through our official close groups and also through our hosts who conduct various sessions. We made these close groups to help users interact with each other and our customer service teams to help them in their journey of networking and at the same time gain free-flowing feedback,” explains Mishra, on what led them to build the ‘Club’ for people in similar life phases.

“Through this, we observed the users were keen to share learnings from sessions, their artwork, their performances and also engage in exchanging, appreciating and motivating others through their next phase of the journey of life," he adds.

As per a recent report cited by the company, more than 90 percent of elderly internet users utilise social media platforms primarily to connect with family and friends. The Evergreen Club founder asserts that while multiple social networking platforms exist and are well-established, each serves its purpose. “We created ‘Club’ as a no-judgement platform where like-minded people above the age of 50, share not only their emotions, their journeys but also their artworks, performances, their progress, etc., that they learn from our sessions and courses.”

“While if they are on these other platforms, there will be content that may not speak to them at all considering the content is largely created by a generation or two younger,” points out Mishra. Here is where they feel belonged and can generate and consume content that relates to them, he states.

The feature also claims to keep a “close check on the negative noise through automated moderation capabilities.” Mishra explains, “To build a safe space it is important for us to check if there is any content shared that goes against our community guidelines. If any post goes against our defined guidelines, we do not let the user post the same or ask to take the same down informing the reason.” Since no human can crawl through every post, we use artificial intelligence and machine learning-enabled tools to keep our networking space safe, he adds.

The Safety Factor

Senior citizens today are increasingly vulnerable to digital cons and fall prey to online swindlers. How will the platform ensure that it provides ‘a safe space’ for the community?

We are very cognisant of this fact, acknowledges Mishra. “While the previously stated automated tool helps us with removing spam content, remaining if any – can be dealt with by using crowd intelligence of our user base. We have report features where users can select reasons to report a particular post, comment or a profile. Our team keeps a regular tab on such reports and takes necessary action as per our laid-out procedure.”

The platform also hosts sessions where it educates its members about such frauds and mishaps. “We participated in the “Check Kiya?” campaign (a part of Verified, a global campaign by the United Nations in partnership with the purpose to stop the spread of misinformation) by conducting sessions on the same,” he shares.

Growth & Distribution of Users since Launch

With over 300K+ installs, 150K+ monthly active users (MAUs) and close to 1000 live sessions every month, the platform has seen more than 20x growth in the user base in the past year, showcasing growth at the rate of up to 40 per cent month-on-month, according to the company.

The Evergreen Club is open to all 50+ adults, through its website presence as well as app (on iOS and Android) free of cost. Its primary user-base is spread across India, from not only tier-1 cities but also tier-2 with some folks joining from tier-3 as well, shares Mishra. “We also have a few users from across the borders too, '' he says, adding, “The offering in its current form and structure is capable of being launched globally, but we are prioritising to first cater to the needs of the Indian market.”

The Evergreen Club was awarded “Playstore’s Best App for Good, 2021” by Google, while also being selected to the Google for Startup Accelerator program 2022, according to the company.

View the Club social networking app's launch video here:



from Indian Television Dot Com - The one-stop online source for the Indian cable, satellite, terrestrial, DTH television, business. Everything you wanted to know