WHEN Georgie Lewin answered her grandparents’ request for help to set up their pay TV and do a few other “tech jobs”, she wasn’t looking for a new career.
With a background in TV production working on programs with Andrew Denton’s production company, the 34-year-old was busy enough in her day job in 2016. But after a few visits to help her grandparents with technology jobs, she realised the power of her efforts.
“I was just being a helpful grandchild but one day my grandfather insisted on compensating me, he told me I didn't understand how much it meant to him,” she recalls.
“I realised there was a niche market to help the older generation with technology, to be that patient, understanding person by their side. My grandparents were a microcosm of physical difficulties – my grandfather has poor hearing and my grandma wasn't technology savvy, so every instance was customised for them.”
Ms Lewin saw the benefit in personalised training for the elderly as well as classes and information sessions.
Her fledgling business Grandaids offers both – and is expanding to Newcastle.
After getting the fundamentals of her business including insurance and service agreements in place, Ms Lewin launched at the end of 2017, when Grandaids also became a network partner of the federal government’s Be Connected initiative helping older Australians online.
Ms Lewin appointed Verena Franz as her regional manager in Newcastle, and has three staff. Her business plan centres on creating hubs in rural NSW before potentially going national.
Ms Lewin says recruitment of the right Graindaids, or helpers, is crucial. She envisages many will be Gen Y or Z students who, like the elderly, are time flexible. They must have not only good tech skills but be patient with the “emotional intelligence” to help their senior clients.
New clients receive a 30 minute free consultation before a structure of sessions are suggested to help them troubleshoot their issues.
To date, the most common requests centre on setting up entertainment and TV settings, how to deal with spam and save photographs, alongside bill bundling.
“Five people have called and said “I want to watch The Crown, how can I get Netflix,” Ms Lewin laughs.
Reward comes in reconnecting the elderly to family and keeping telcos honest.
“I saw a 94-year-old lady in a retirement village and her monthly bill was $350 – she had two redundant I-pads on packages that hadn't been cancelled, she was on a ridiculous amount of data for what she required and had an old Foxtel product. I managed to halve the bill for her despite her being in a contract,” she says.