Business Line ( 23 July , 2016 ) carried an interesting report re mushrooming of " Rent-a-Friend " services in Japan, where you can " rent " ( on hourly basis ) , a fake friend , a family member or a companion for various occasions
One Nashimoto even " rents " himself out for " conversation " to 30 / 40 clients a month ( 70 % women ), for $ 10 per hour . He has an online service .
All kinds of people ( young and old / rich and not-so-rich ), engage him for reasons ranging from,
* lack of family support / keeping company ( physically or online )
* social isolation / detachment from society
* desire to speak out freely without inhibitions
* advice on dealing with bosses..........etc
Now , online space is overflowing with some genuine ( and some , otherwise ) , " Escort Services " in many countries ( including , in India ) , which are very expensive
And for every rich person in need of such an escort service , there are a hundred , not-so-rich and needy persons , who just need someone online , from time to time , to pour out their hearts !
I believe , thousands of educated / unemployed Indians are well placed to render such " Listening " services to needy persons all around the World , remotely , using Skype / FaceTime
Here is an outline of my suggestion , re how young / educated / unemployed Indians can offer such service :
This strictly " Online " service will have a platform called , www...COUCH...com ( supported by a Mobile App )
There will be two kinds of users who will register on this site , viz:
* " Talkers " , who want to engage someone who will listen to them / sympathize with them
* " Listeners " , who will listen patiently / ask occasional question / offer advice - sympathy - empathy
# REGISTRATION FORM
For both type of users , the Registration Form will require to submit following details :
* Personal Details ( Name / DOB / Gender / Nationality / Bank Account No / Photo / Short Video etc )
* Family Details ( Who are members of immediate family ? )
* Contact Details ( Address / Mobile No / Email ID / Skype - FaceTime ID / WatsApp..etc )
* Social Media Footprint ( Facebook / LinkedIn / Twitter : No of Friends - Contacts - Connections - Followers )
* Cultural Exposure ( Countries visited / lived-in , with stay-periods / Foreign friends )
* Educational Details ( Degrees / Colleges ) . Listeners having degree in Psychology will get ranked higher !
* Language Details ( Languages spoken / fluently - reasonably well )
* Experience Details ( Where worked / for how long ) . Retired / Worldly Wise , Listeners get ranked higher !
* Availability Details ( Available from - to / GMT- Local time )
Based on the completeness of the Registration Form Details , a software will rate and rank the Listeners , which will
be visible to the Talkers
There will be facility to update / edit the data submitted
Upon registration , users will be assigned USER ID and PASSWORD
In addition , Listener will be assigned a unique COUCH / INTERVIEW-CABIN number
# SEARCHING DATABASE OF LISTENERS
Talkers will be able to search the database of the registered Listeners , except for their " Contact Details "
Talkers can , then select / shortlist , a few listeners of their preference
# SERVICE CHARGE
Talkers will pay $ 2 per hour to the portal , which will credit this amount to the Bank Account of the concerned
Listener , after deducting 10 % as its own commission
# PAYMENT MECHANISM
Using online payment gateway , Talkers will deposit a minimum of $ 20 , on the portal as PRE-PAID amount
As Talker continues using the service , credit balance will get displayed ( in $ and in " Hours " terms )
There will be facility for online ( or through Mobile ) re-charging of the account
A Listener can login anytime and occupy his own virtual COUCH / CABIN ( " I am now available for listening " )
As soon as he does , a GREEN light will shine on the CABIN , showing the online availability of the concerned
This green light will tell the Talkers : " Welcome ! I am ready to listen "
The light will turn RED , as soon as a Talker walks into Listener's CABIN ( " I am engaged right now " )
Any time a Talker logs in , he will find if any Listeners ( that he had previously shortlisted ) are available online
If he finds one , he simply CLICKS on the CABIN icon and enters that VIRTUAL cabin !
Simultaneously , both the Talker and the Listener , turn on their Skype ( on Mobile or Tablet ) to start the talk
Remember , Skype ID of neither the Talker , nor the Listener , is ever visible to each other !
All conversation / transaction , can ONLY take place through www...COUCH...com ( no bypassing ! )
The entire conversation will get recorded ( Video + Audio ) and can be downloaded by the Talker ( but not by
the Listener ) , if he so desires
Portal will be obliged to make this recording available to a Court of Law , in case of any litigation
Portal will carry a WARNING that it reserves the right to remove any Talker or a Listener , if it finds that its
service is being misused / abused ( will need defining , in detail )
# REPUTATION SYSTEM
At the end of each " talk / conversation " , Talker will be obliged to " Rate " the concerned Listener
on a 5 point scale ( Excellent > Horrible ) .
Cumulative / Average " Rating " will be prominently
displayed for guidance of all Talkers .
Of course , a Listener can see his own rating as soon as he logs in
At some future date , it should be possible ( through appropriate software ) , to introduce following variations in
pricing of the service ( ie ; Hourly Rates ) :
* Surge Pricing ( depending upon the DEMAND of any given Listener ) ie: No of Talkers waiting for a given
Listener at a given point of time
* Reputation Pricing , based on points accumulated by a given Listener from all past ratings
# USAGE HISTORY
For each user ( Listener or Talker ) , there will be a Usage History page of all the past transactions / talks ; as
also Credit Balance ( for the Talker ) and the Earnings ( for the Listener )
The portal will NOT reveal any info / data ( including Audio-Video recording ) of any user to anyone else.
However , portal will reserve the rights to subject those Audio recordings ( but not Video recordings ) to
an Artificial Intelligence ( AI ) software , which can , over a course of time , come up with a SOFTWARE ROBOT
that can take over the role of the HUMAN listeners ! If you have any doubts , ask Ray Kurzweil !
When that happens , this portal may morph into a PPO ( Psychology Process Outsourcing ) !
The portal will also reserve the rights to use the Audio recordings for offering Voice-to-Voice language
translation mobile app for the benefit of world-travelers
# PROMOTING THE SERVICE
To an extent , the portal may affect the jobs of local Psychologists / Psycho-Analysts who offer low level
consulting in any country. They will be in danger of being " Bangalored " ! So , it is bound to face resistance
from those vested / threatened interests !
But foreign Hospitals / Educational Institutions / NGOs / Medical Colleges , etc could be targeted for promoting
# BUSINESS MODEL
Business Model will be in the nature of " Sharing Economy " , where those owning / possessing " Idle / Spare /
Under-utilized " assets / resources , will offer the same to those in need / when in need , for a price
Millions of private car-owners use their cars for ( may be ) two hours per day . Uber aggregates this spare
capacity and makes it available to travelers who do not own ( or wish to own ) their own cars
Both parties benefit . Economy also benefits by fuller utilization of the spare/surplus capacities of millions of
All in all , I think this is a great opportunity for some Indian Start Up to seize
For an depth idea ( Page Write-ups for web site / User Interfaces ) , look up :
# www.hemenparekh.in > Reports > OnlineJobsFair
( http://hcpreports.blogspot.in/2016/02/online-jobs-fair.html )
Carpe Diem !
25 July 2016