Tara Vachani, Director, Max India, Max Healthcare on Creating a Senior Living Community and Refusing To Change Her Product

Tara Singh Vachani, Director, Max India, Max Healthcare

As Executive Chairman of Antara Senior Living, Tara’s aim is to give a new dimension to senior living in India. She is also the Non–Executive Director on the Board of Max India Ltd and oversees future business initiatives at Max Group. Tara is also a Director at Max Healthcare. She is actively involved in The Leeu Collection which is her family’s international hospitality business with hotels in the U.K., South Africa and Italy. Tara is also the Managing Trustee of Max India Foundation, which represents Max Group’s social responsibility efforts.

With an extensive education and experience across the world, and as a keen learner throughout her journey at Max Group, Tara has imbibed the values of Sevabhav, Excellence and Credibility.

A natural leader, she represents the dynamic new cadre of young women entrepreneurs in India.

Antara Senior Living

Antara Senior Living works on the principles of Sevabhav, Brilliance, Togetherness and Responsible Action. Tara really believes in the values of empathy and responsibility. Antara is not an old age home though, which has traditionally been largely charitable and largely has been a place no one wants to go to. At Antara, there is an entire ecosystem for the care and lifestyle of the old. There is independent living which could culminate into assisted living and skilled nursing, all provided seamlessly at Antara. Antara’s community in Dehradun is a continuous care community. 

What sets Antara apart

Tara attributes the successful execution of Antara to three things. First, the group’s passion to always be committed to sevabhav. “I think there is a DNA component in this which is very hard to replicate.” She is quick to add that this also leads to them being too emotional in their decisions and that they feel too close to the cause. 

We put ourselves too much in the middle of it and it doesn’t always make for great commercial outcomes.”

However, she thinks that that is a deep-rooted attribute necessary to be successful in this space. Secondly, she credits their perseverance. 

We have been beaten up in this journey.

Antara has faced numerous difficulties in sales, construction, training and learning of its people etc. Customer acquisition has also been a major challenge. Despite being pushed repeatedly to change the product in terms of price and services offered, Tara stuck to her guns and persevered. 

Third, she says it is important to think about the high level offering. For an industry like this, one has to be serious and invested enough to evolve into multiple products and services. She asserts that it is important to look at the big picture.

Cultural implications of Antara’s product 

With already over 100 million people over 60 years of age, her product is very relevant in the country. Inspite of that, customer acquisition remains a problem. In a country like India, there is a moral obligation on children to take care of their aging parents. Convincing them to put their parents into care is a huge challenge. In the 5 years of her journey with Antara, Tara has only interacted with the end users themselves. 

She agrees that it is also because the concept of Antara is for the relatively affluent and people with financial freedom. For Antara Dehradun, their entire outreach was directed towards the end users, i.e. seniors. 

We are slowly looking to change that and add new products. We’re trying to equip ourselves to deal with the children and other stakeholders.

Relevance of Senior living communities with the evolution of condominiums

With the advent of condominiums, the trend is towards old people living in complexes with gated security, proximity to hospitals and amenities, as well as an increased reliance on friends and peers. Most of the population living in these condominiums have kids living in other cities. There is already an ecosystem of communal living. 

However, Tara is quick to point out where it lacks compared to senior living spaces. 

The core difference is in the care aspect of it.

In the event of an emergency or need for full time assistance, the processes and ecosystem we provide, a condo can simply not provide despite having full physical infrastructure.

Tara also states that they have curated the residences to build a sense of community that cannot be replicated in condos because of the heterogeneity of its inhabitants. She recounts how at a recent event at Antara, the residents seemed to know more about each other than the management. 

There is also laser focus on each resident’s well being at Antara and events, experiences and interactions are tailor made to suit those. 

Mistakes that startup entrepreneurs make

Tara, as a millennial, has tasted leadership and success very early on. 

It’s a little awkward to answer that because I’m still learning.” 

She draws from her personal experience and points out a few things that she has learnt. 

The number one mistake she thinks startups make is not being cost-conscious enough. She thinks it is very important to be frugal to be successful and sustainable. Secondly, she stresses on the importance of surrounding oneself with people more intelligent than them.

There is no place for ego in entrepreneurship.

She says humility and asking for help are of paramount importance. Too often, people get caught up in their web of ego and reluctance to admit that they may not know something too well. 

Thirdly, she says it is important to be very passionate about what one does. 

If you don’t wake up every morning believing that you are changing the life of your end user, just abort.”

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