Meet Neil Dsouza, GetSetUp's Co-Founder, Who Is Bringing Virtual Classes To Older Adults

Nov 10, 2020

Neil D'Souza has never been one to turn down a challenge. Growing up in India he was a national competitor in swimming competitions and now runs ultra long distance races.

After moving to US for his graduate studies and later working as an engineer for Cisco, Neil quickly realized his true passion lay in education and leveraging technology to solve societal problems.

Neil's True Passion Is Using Education And Technology To Solve Social Problems

Neil spent 10 years building an education technology company initially a non-profit called Teach A Class. Neil developed his product, ClassCloud, while on a year long sabbatical in Mongolia. At that time he used it to teach children in an orphanage in Mongolia. There he met a 15 year old Mongolian girl named Airun Zaya.

“There she was, not only learning the content, but also translating it from English to Mongolian. The translated content was eventually used in many places in Mongolia,” said Neil. “I was very inspired to see a 15-year-old do this.”

Inspired by her, he changed the name of his social enterprise from Teach A Class to Zaya Learning Labs.

“‘Zaya’ means fate, or destiny, in Mongolian,” he explained. “I probably wouldn’t have continued down this path if I hadn’t met her.”

Neil’s Zaya prototype was build to be used anywhere in the world, both online or offline.

Students using Zaya Learning Lab Technology. 

For many years he was the CEO of this Mumbai-based social enterprise, Zaya Learning Labs, that strived to provide world-class education for underprivileged children around the world. However, in 2018 Neil stepped down from day-day operations to spend more time exploring other passions.

Passion And Learning Throughout Aging

“A lot of my decisions about my career seem very unconventional and altruistic, but I do think they are quite ‘selfish’, in that I derive a great sense of satisfaction from them.”

In Neil’s spare time he enjoys running, swimming, and cycling including long cycling trips with his tour company Domestique Tours. On one such cycling trip through the Himalayas he met Lawrence Kosick, a veteran startup exec from Silicon Valley. They hit it off immediately and continued to foster their friendship on long trail runs where they discussed business ideas.

Scaling problems so everyone can climb them together is one of Neil's passions. 

About a year ago and on one of many long trail runs, Neil shared his idea to up-skill retired educators and have them teach older adults software and apps. It was one of the coolest yet seemingly hardest ideas Lawrence had ever heard - he was intrigued.

So Lawrence took the risk and quit his job to join Neil at GetSetUp as his co-founder. It seemed like the crazy, high risk, entrepreneurial  - yet right thing to do!

A Live Virtual Learning Community For Older Adults

Together they set out to build an online platform where older adults would train peers on software and services they could use to lead happier, healthier, and connected lives. Both friends were passionate about helping people and problem-solving. They knew this older demographic was projected to be 20% of the global population in the next 10 years. Yet, almost every business they studied was failing to recognize the uniqueness of this large and important demographic.

Since Neil and Lawrence’s friendship spans a generation gap that adds value and depth to their friendship. Each has a wealth of skills and a unique perspective to share with the other to create a lasting foundation based on modern technology and education that links generations.  

GetSetUp was founded with a focus on education since it always provides positive benefits. It sought to address a market that is overlooked - older adults. Plus it built something for a market we will all enter sooner or later - whether we want to or not!

Everyone learns differently and especially as you age learning is more about overcoming your fear versus gaining knowledge. So to meet those needs they decided to tap into the large workforce of retired professionals cause they possessed the same cadence, empathy and wisdom to train their peers. The best part of this was the jobs it created for an older workforce to work as educators on GetSetUp. Genius. Positive change was all around.

GetSetUp Is Improving The Lives Of Older Adults

GetSetUp was born with a multi-pronged ability to make the world a better place.

  1. Provide economic opportunities for older workers who are often overlooked or face ageism in hiring processes.
  2. Provide digital training and adoption for older adults.
  3. Create a community for older adults who may face social isolation or mobility issues.
  4. Provide a safe, fun, live, and interactive way for older adults to interact with their peers.
  5. Provide learning opportunities for older adults to help prevent cognitive decline and allow them to follow their dreams!
  6. Provide a place for older adults to teach and share their skills with peers.

GetSetUp is a unique business focused on really engaging a multigenerational team and taking full advantage of the older generations’ resources and wealth of knowledge to create a live engaging and fulfilling space for older adults where they feel heard and have space to grow and thrive!

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