Give us a bit of background about yourself and your company
Silver Talkies is a social impact organization the idea for which came to two stay-at-home young moms while observing the changes their own fathers were experiencing post their retirement. One found that retirement could be very boring and unexciting with ample free time at hand. Other realized that a lack of productive work and a social network could lead to social isolation and deterioration of health. Our search for meaningful opportunities for our parents went in vain and brought to our understanding the importance and need for creating an engagement and community platform exclusively for older adults. Hence Silver Talkies was born in 2014 as a partnership firm. Over the years our understanding of the needs of older adults got better and deeper and we ventured into areas of interest to them like planning and organizing exclusive in-person events and learning sessions for older adults allowing them to be lifelong learners, running an activity centre in Bangalore, organizing day trips and outstation travel etc. However, in 2020 the onset of the pandemic prompted us to rethink our business model and we pivoted into being a pan-India community and engagement platform for older adults running a wide variety of sessions online. This is when we created a private limited company and expanded our reach beyond Bangalore. Today we pursue a hybrid model offering opportunities of both online and offline engagement to our community members. They continue to learn, interact and engage through online sessions, attend weekly classes like yoga, pranayama, TaiChi, dance, language, bhajan, technology learning etc. from the comfort of their homes and also meet their friends at the Silver Talkies Club every 1-2 months at the city-chapter meet-ups. We currently have active city chapters in Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi/ NCR, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Pune. This multi-location presence has allowed our members to find multi-city friendships which has expanded their social networks beyond their immediate geographical boundaries. The hybrid model allows us to serve the needs of older adults across different decades of ageing. The younger and more active older adults travel with us, and be part of our cultural showcases and physical meet-ups while the older and lesser active older adults continue to stay engaged and connected through our online sessions and classes. We also offer the latter group buddy support through volunteers, offering them assistance and companionship. We understand that as a person grows older their healthcare needs become more pertinent and we strive to meet these and other needs like financial and legal advisory etc. through tie-ups with a curated set of partners.
Nidhi Chawla is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of Silver Talkies. She leads the business, strategy, social outreach verticals and social engagement initiatives of the organization. She is passionate about making active ageing a viable goal for older people and dreams of a society of empowered older adults. She has several years of experience in the financial services sector, having worked with SREI International Securities and McKinsey & Co. Nidhi has been the recipient of several leadership awards for her work in the eldercare space and is currently a member of the CII Seniorcare taskforce.
What makes your company stand out in the market?
Silver Talkies has been a pioneer in active ageing as we entered the space at a time when no one was talking about active engagement and tackling the loneliness and isolation issues of older adults. Our focus on improving the social and emotional well-being of older adults has had a positive impact on their physical and mental health too hence elevating their holistic well-being. Our focus has always been on creating solutions through our real and practical understanding and not theoretical knowledge of the needs of older adults. Our razor-sharp focus on these needs and creating solutions that are aligned to these needs has helped us create a differentiating factor. Also, we believe in the power of collaborations and do not intend to recreate everything in-house. This philosophy too has allowed us to partner with the best service providers in the space to extend an entire gamut of services for the seniors.
How do self-made women entrepreneurs feel in the male-dominated industry?
Well, it has been a mixed bag of experiences. Many times one feels like an outsider. It takes a lot more effort to establish and prove oneself. Fostering connections is not very easy always. However, sometimes you do find compatible male colleagues who value your thought process and contribution and treat you as a peer and a friend.
What do you think is the biggest problem for women entrepreneurs?
I would say Impostor Syndrome. We are sometimes our own worst enemies as we are mostly victims of our own beliefs either about ourselves or our circumstances.
Who are your clients? How do you keep your clients happy and satisfied?
Our clients are either the older adults or their children, while the beneficiaries are the older adults. Our youngest member is 53 and our oldest member is 96. We keep our clients happy and satisfied by a keeping continued focus on their evolving needs. With each decade of ageing the needs of an individual change and we endeavour to meet these changing needs for both younger and senior older adults whether it is in terms of their engagement activities and services needed or the mode of delivering these activities to them. The other thing which keeps our clients happy is the thriving community of like-minded individuals they find through Silver Talkies. We have seen many lasting friendships blossoming which extend beyond their local geographies.
Is it difficult for women entrepreneurs to start a business in India?
It can be difficult all things considered – our own beliefs, mindset of the people around us both in personal and professional set-up and the different roles that we play or are expected to play.
How do you achieve a balance between your personal and professional life?
It is very important to demarcate boundaries between the two and I need to do better on this front. However, something that I do diligently is, take care of my mental health and create time on my calendar for my counselor sessions, self-care practices, and time for family. I take regular travel breaks that bring me back to work rejuvenated. This keeps me in good stead.
What have you learned about entrepreneurship in your journey?
Entrepreneurship is a roller coaster ride with its fair share of ups and downs. Clarity of purpose, constant innovation, and lasting passion are key ingredients for being a successful entrepreneur.
List the awards and milestones won by the company.
- 2018 – Listed among top 20 most promising digital magazines by Silicon India
- 2018 – Recognised as pathbreaker at 1st seniorcare conclave by CII
- 2019 – Exceptional Women of Excellence award by WEF
- 2020 – Woman Super Achiever Award at World Women Leadership Congress
- 2020-2023 Member of CII Seniorcare Committee
- 2022- Published book Rethink Ageing (Penguin)
- 2023 – Women Of Worth award from FICCI Flo Coimbatore
- 2023- Winner of She’s Next grant of USD 10,000 from VISA
As a source of inspiration for many, what would your advice be for female entrepreneurs, who are planning to start own business?
Believing in yourself is the most important trait to have. Do not beat yourself down on what you think to be your drawback or weakness. Your weakness can be your superpower in the right space and the right fit. I discovered this with my empathy trait which was considered as my weakness in the corporate environment but now makes me brilliant at my work at Silver Talkies. Secondly, you will never have answers to everything or know everything that your business needs. Be willing to learn on the job and asking for help.