The PERFECT PAIRING
The Venture Magazine|July 2020
YOUNGSTER.CO MATCHES TEENS WITH ELDERS TO EXCHANGE TECH KNOW-HOW AND TIMELESS WISDOM
Damien Martin

Few places have seen more hardship throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns than aged-care facilities. Youngster. co is doing everything it can to wring something positive out of the situation, both for elders and teenagers. The startup pairs youngsters with older people to swap technological know-how and life lessons. When lockdowns forced Yougnster.co to move its operations from in-person interactions to digital-only, co-founders and father-son duo Tony and Finn Rothacker saw it as an opportunity to scale the business nationally.

“COVID-19 actually gave us the platform to be virtual-only,” Tony Rothacker told VENTURE. “We found that it’s actually scalable that way and much faster than a face-to-face service.”

What began as a small test run of 10 teenagers visiting a regional aged-care facility could prove to be one of the success stories coming out of the COVID-19 era.

CREATIVE SOLUTIONS

It began with open innovation. A regional local health district solicited help in solving the problem of youth suicide in regional Australia.

“One of the big challenges is that young people don’t have a vision for the future, especially in regional Australia,” Tony said. “I think it’s really relevant now with COVID-19, people are really unsure what’s going to happen in the future. Losing a job and being unemployed is one of the big contributing factors.”

Recognising that some seniors lack fundamental tech skills and young people need employment, the Rothackers hit upon a solution.

“It is a natural solution to have the youngsters helping the elders. The youngsters have natural technology inclination or skills, they just grow up with it. Elders at the same time have a huge asset to bring to the table, which is life skills. We thought, ‘Why not pair up those two groups?’ We are very conscious that both vulnerable groups need to be protected. They can benefit from each other.”

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