In a bid to accelerate growth within the healthcare startup community, Endeavor Philippines and Ayala Healthcare Holdings, Inc. (AC Health) hosted the second event under its #HealthcareRedefined series bringing together entrepreneurs, investors, and policymakers within the sector. Driven to disrupt the healthcare sector in Southeast Asia, we invited panelists Dr. Amit Kakar of Bamboo Capital Partners, Nick Ray of Queen’s Road Capital, Founder and CEO of CXA Group Roasline Chow Koo, Endeavor Entrepreneur and Founder and CEO of mClinica Farouk Meralli, and Christian Besler of AC Health to discuss the challenges and possibilities of scaling healthcare ventures.
If you missed our event, click through to view our takeaways!
“It is our mission to help catalyze economies by accelerating high-impact entrepreneurs—individuals with skills to create big successful businesses, are doing something innovative and disruptive, and most importantly, are paying it forward by investing their success in others,” says Manny Ayala, Managing Director of Endeavor Philippines.
The event dubbed, “Scaling Healthcare Ventures in Southeast Asia,” gathered panelists who have founded their own ventures, such as Farouk Meralli, an Endeavor Entrepreneur and Founder & CEO of mClinica, a healthcare data and analytics company operating across Asia, and Rosaline Chow Koo, Founder and CEO of CXA Group which offers an employee benefits and wellness marketplace platform.
Coming from corporate backgrounds, Meralli and Koo mentioned that success lies in building a persistent team of individuals with focused specializations and a genuine interest in creating innovative solutions. A risk-taking attitude is important for entrepreneurs especially as certain policies can be challenged by new programs or systems.
“For mClinica, as we have data, it is our moral imperative to try to shape policy as much as we can to provide them, and we want people to use them to change policies and programs,” says Farouk Meralli, Founder & CEO of mClinica. “How we see we can help is by working with regulators and decision-makers so that they can change policies to make an impact.”
Investing to scale healthcare
Endeavor Philippines and AC Health also invited VC representatives with a focus in healthcare: Christian Besler from AC Health, Nick Ray of Queen’s Road Capital, and Dr. Amit Kakar of Bamboo Capital Partners. All three agree that there is much opportunity to tackle the pressing and difficult problems of the sector by improving systems and the back-end to complement the services provided by healthcare professionals.
“I think the evolution of health is happening whether we like it or not, and we better be part of that trend,” says Dr. Amit Kakar of Bamboo Capital Partners.
Kakar noted the need for start-ups to be given opportunities to scale given that certain parts of the world need solutions, especially those that have a low doctor-to-patient ratio. Besler stresses the need to invest in early stage companies to help them scale while also keeping in mind to make healthcare accessible without sacrificing the quality of services developed by start-ups.
Asked what investors look for in funding healthcare ventures, Besler, Ray and Kakar mentioned the importance of a skilled and unified team, a sustainable business model, and the ability to effectively address a dire need in communities.
“What we look for are meticulous and resourceful entrepreneurs who are able to borrow from others’ successes and learn from others’ failures. We look for those who are able to find the best team members locally and regionally,” says Nick Ray of Queen’s Road Capital.
On finding the right partners and patterns to scale
On the entrepreneur’s end, Meralli and Koo underscore the importance of understanding which geographies are important to scale the business and finding the right investors who can help their companies grow. Meralli states that these decisions are stage-dependent while Koo adds that it is necessary to find strategic partners with good people who are determined to succeed.
Meralli recalled the institutional investors who helped mClinica succeed during its early-stage: from 500 Startups who provided access to many things and IMJ Investment Partners from Japan , whose people and advising mClinica liked, to Kickstart Venture and Endeavor Catalyst. “We pursued Endeavor because it offered us geographic breadth, capital, expertise and global connections.”
When asked for advice on expanding healthcare ventures in Southeast Asia, Meralli and Koo agree that the region is so complex that entrepreneurs must be strategic. Meralli stresses the importance of localization and the need to study and understand patterns and similarities across markets when one expands.
“Find the regional leader or someone at the top and sell them evidence-based solutions. Convince the most influential firm in one industry and you can win them all,” adds Koo.