The service that helps Indian expats care for their parents wants to be present in 40 cities this year. e27 takes a look at its journey so far
CauseforSmile, a service that allows Indian expats to take care of their parents back home, has now expanded its services to the Indian towns of Chandigarh and Kolkata.
Registered in Wyoming, United States, CauseforSmile was launched in November 2013. At the time of the launch, services of the startup were available only across four Indian metros. However, the portal has grown immensely and now provides services in the Indian cities of Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Noida, Gurgaon, in addition to the new expansion Kolkata and Chandigarh. It is also available in Kathmandu, Nepal. CauseForSmile aims to be available in 40 plus cities in 2014.
“We are getting numerous queries from across the globe to launch our services in Tier II cities such as Kochi, Kanpur, Ranchi, Rajkot, Mangalore, Mysore and Varanasi,” expressed Shikha Agrawal, COO and VP, @CauseforSmile. “We are tempted seeing the interest and query level, but in 2014, we’ll focus on achieving customer excellence and not on aggressive client acquisition. We’ll include a city where we have a strong operational base.”
The startup received a seed fund of US$30,000 from Dr Rajesh Dudani, Founder and Non Executive Member, based in Memphis, US; he is currently the sole investor of CauseforSmile. Discussion on the second round of investment is in progress.
Beginning of the flight!
It is often said that ‘By the time you realise your parents were right, you already have kids who think you are wrong’. Role reversal is a part of every human’s life journey and this is when the thought of being able to take care of your parents, irrespective of your current placement, struck to Agrawal’s husband, Raj Mishra.
One evening in 2009 at Universal Studios, Orlando, Florida, Agrawal and her husband along with two friends were reminiscing about their childhood and remembering their parents back home. That is when the idea of CauseforSmile was shared and conceived. The four friends latched on to the thought and nurtured it into a full blown startup, realising the dream of every Indian expat.
“We overlook the fact that parents at that age require proactive health check-ups. CauseforSmile is bringing a cultural change to focus on proactive preventive care rather than waiting for a medical condition,” expressed Dudani.
To understand the need of the expats, the foursome started interviewing NRIs (Non Resident Indians). Nearly 100 plus NRIs were interviewed across US, UK and Australia. Agrawal expressed that parents’ health, fitness, recreation and entertainment constituted expats’ main worries. Thus, with the aim to offer holistic services, three broad plans were created through which consumers can subscribe to the service of their choice. Consumers can chose from Compassion Plan, Compassion with Care Plan, and Compassion Care and a Life Plan.
What is on offer?
The recreational services include dining, spa, coffee dates, movie outing, etc. Health services comprise doctor, dietitian and physiotherapist services for parents. Parents are also presented with birthday, anniversary gifts and flowers with personalised notes. Subscribers can request for specialised service as well; for instance, one subscriber has requested for a driver as and when required, another has asked for 24/7 nurse assistance, shared Agrawal.
Users can subscribe to these services on a yearly, half yearly or quarterly basis. Services of CauseforSmile start at US$7.99 per month and go up to US$71.99 per month for India; for Nepal, they start at US$4.99 per month till US$64.99 per month.
Currently, CauseforSmile has a team of eight in India and six members in Nepal. It also has 36 plus contractual staff through service providers.
Competition and marketing
Services for Indian expats is a trend in making and startups of similar nature are expected to creep in. Currently, CauseforSmile is competing with websites such as Singapore-based OurHealthMate, which allows NRIs to book healthcare services on behalf of their family and loved ones.
“We focus on preventive healthcare. All preventive care prescription and recommendation are reviewed by our in-house panel of international doctors from USA,” said Dr Priyanka Sultania, VP – Preventive Healthcare and Fitness, CauseforSmile, pointing out the website’s USP amongst the stiff competition.
CauseforSmile is currently going the digital way for marketing. The branding currently is done through social media; it will be later extended to Google Ad words.
Indian parents will go to the doctor only when ill (that too grudgingly) and going out to have fun by themselves is an alien concept. This startup is trying to help change that psyche by joining hands with NRIs.
Expat services seem to be the next big thing, filling in a long-awaited need gap. Looks like CauseforSmile has a huge audience base to tap.
Featured Image Courtesy: CauseforSmile