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Update_2013_08_08; gRENTparents......

The main idea is to offer mainly an online platform which is supported by an offline service where elderly could connect with young parents whose own parents donĀ“t live nearby to help them with daily tasks and vice versa.

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The online platform itself is build upon the principle of a social platform. Each member can set up a profile, mentioning what they can help with (like doing homework with the kids, baking, etc.) but also what they would need help with (e.g. help with the monthly shopping, be taught how to use the computer, etc.). The information given about each member on the profile will be the same for both; the future gRENTparents as well as the parents of the kids. 

For older people who don´t know how to use the computer. gRENTparents will provide drop-in centers. These elderly can then go in there, get informed about the concept and let the g(RENT)parents employees/volunteers let them help with setting up an online profile. Also the drop-in centers could also be embedded in public institutions=partners like (e.g: libraries, schools, etc.) to outsource the service. As in those institutions computers are provided, elderly can go there to get help with setting up or maintain their online profile. In each of those institutions at least one employee will be assigned and trained by a proper gRENTparents employee about how the concept works and how it can be easily explained to older people who are not familiar with computer technology. So then, every area will either have a gRENTparents dorp-in center (responsible for an area within the radius of 10miles) and/or (depends on the residential density), partners in this area acting as a drop-in center. 

The information of the gRENTparents will then be put online; they´ll be marked to be `not active online members´, so that parents know when it comes to delays in response, etc. After a maximum of two exchanges online between the `not active online members` (exchange process will be maintained with the help of the gRENTparents volunteers, employees or partners) and the interested parent both the gRENTparents and the actual parents will be asked to meet on one of the organized getting together events (organized by gRENTparents itself) or in future by engaged gRENTparents users.

Every two weeks a getting together event organized by the gRENTparents employees itself will be organized to ease the first contact. Also once in a while a sharing event will be held, where people from the area who are taking part in the concept get together and share their experiences. Also the possibility of general computer classes, presentations, etc. will be organized within each area.  

After the first steps and once the elder people become actual gRENTparents, the parents or even the children are then responsible to explain their gRENTparents in how to use the computer properly, so that they can maintain their profile. 

The concept itself would help to bring together people from different generations who all live in the same area. Due to urbanization many young couples live far away from their own parents and so when it comes to daily tasks have no one on their side to help them with. Also moments, like e.g.; the first zoo visit for the child could be something to share with the individual gRENTparents if the proper ones live too far away. 

How might your idea scale and spread to reach as many people as possible?

As it is mainly a social platform the concept would spread viral. The platform would be more or less a kind of `facebook` for older people. They then could upload images of their adventures as being gRENTparents and so motivate other members to be more active. Also WOM (Word of Mouth) would be a method to reach people at least the once who are living in the same area. Furthermore partnerships will be established to institutions which are in contact with elder people. To mention a few; Libraries, Meals on wheels, Medical practices, retirement centers, etc. Those partners would then be responsible (as partly mentioned above) to inform these elderly that a service like this exist and provide (if they have computers in their facilities and are skilled/trained gRENTparents partners) help in setting up their online profile.

How might your idea attract and involve partners from health care, business, government, nonprofit or other sectors?

It is a fact that due to better living conditions life expectation grows; People get older. One of the major problems would be to pay attention that those older people don´t get isolated and still stay an active part of our society. They should be connected and informed about technology and so more aware of what is happening around them. The government due to subsidiaries could support this project as it generates a social benefit. Also as I am now living in Shanghai, I experienced how on the first of July, 2013 a law got introduced, in which the government prescribe that young people have to visit their own parents on a regular base otherwise they get sued; How disappointing is the fact that a law have to be introduced for that.

In terms of profit organizations; many volunteers would probably be interested to work for gRENTparents, also parents who active users of the service would help out to build up this concept. Due to its social value, locality as well as constant actuality, funds can be easily collected as people can directly experience where the money goes to; transparency is pretty high.

But also businesses and investors could be attracted by this concept. I would not charge the users for this service but ask for a regular donations. It would be a Pay-As-Much-As-You-Want price model. Due to general studies on that model it has been conducted that people (especially in this case) would not spoil this mechanism. In the end those having more money would then probably donate more.

How might you design an early experiment or prototype to further develop your idea?

It would make sense to first do a research and ask both older people and young parents if they would be ready to use this service. if this is positive, it might be reasonable to start trying out this concept cooperating with few partners first offline and in one test area. If the offer turns out to be popular, other areas would be taken into account. The beta version will be set and tested in smaller regions before the big roll out and realization of gRENTparents would start in bigger cities.


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Photo of Carrie Whitehead

Love the thinking that went into the business model. Great work!

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