Our special series about tech businesses founded in 2020 highlights tales of resilience, remote relationships and pivoting. No.5: Sentai

Sentai is a start-up that could be described as fitting for the year of its launch.

The business aims to use tech to combat loneliness in elderly people. Swindon-based Phil Marshman came up with the idea as he wanted to find better help care for his dad without being a nuisance.

The pandemic meant a larger pool of talent available to join the now 16-strong team, he says, who are based in Cheltenham, Worcester, Surrey and Chennai.

There were challenges, too, in things like user testing when you can’t meet people face-to-face and observe their reactions.


The resulting device uses AI, machine learning, sensors and augmented voice technology to be where carers can’t be – monitoring movements, starting conversations and keeping carers constantly connected.

It aims to interact with an elderly person like a human would, enabling it to start conversations about the user’s favourite football team, for example, or give them a gentle nudge to remind them to take medication.

Launched during COVID: Live Tech Games

It learns routines and can alert relatives to unexpected changes.

The business launched a Kickstarter campaign in November and Marshman, who says remote working has seen productivity levels go “through the roof”, is targeting a workforce numbering 1,000 in five years.


“We’re developing the technology to include different personalities so that you’d get, for example, ‘Kate’, an entertainments person, offering you a quiz but suggesting you ring a particular friend to join in with you,” he says.

“We’re just scratching the surface with what we could do, the road map is huge.”

Launched during COVID: Bother