The CareVoice raises funding to redefine the healthcare and insurance experience in China
Founded in 2014 in Shanghai, The CareVoice is a consumer-centric health InsurTech start-up redefining healthcare and insurance experience for people in China. We give people access to transparent, high-quality and personalized digital services to improved their health, especially for insurance members.
The CareVoice developed a social independent healthcare platform, empowering their users to find better healthcare, share their experience and validate their choices leveraging a community-sourced review and rating system. The company developed as well as VIP membership SaaS solutions for insurance companies, which enables them to undergo the critical digital transformation of health plans expected by mobile-savvy Chinese affluent consumers and engage with their customers.
We talked with Sebastien Gaudin, CEO of The CareVoice, about their latest funding round led by SOSV and Haitao Capital and about his journey as an entrepreneur.
Can you tell me about The CareVoice and what Health System Inefficiencies it is solving?
The CareVoice runs a free open platform that strives to improve the quality of care for people in China, by listing, rating and recommending healthcare providers. On our platform, people can find a comprehensive listing of hospitals and clinics (including their doctors), which have been rated and reviewed by our community of users.
We also developed VIP membership solution for insurance incumbents that is today our core product. We grant insurance members a premium access to our platform, helping them to find and access high-quality medical care according to their needs and their health plans, ease the usage of their insurance benefits and overall support them in staying healthy.
We identified two major paint points in the health system when we started The CareVoice (as categorized by Galen Growth Asia):
Firstly, Human Capital Flow: for hospitals to drive referral to meet patients’ expectations, to improve the quality of care, to solve the inadequate availabilities of healthcare professionals and to overcome the lack of transparency and lack of trust towards providers. And secondly Patient Flow: In China, the disparities in cost and quality among healthcare providers is huge and our platform helps health consumers to have access to more cost-effective healthcare centers in China.
As of today, we operate in 5 key cities in China.
What is the unique selling point of The CareVoice in the market?
The CareVoice platform has been the first of its kind in China. We are the only player focusing on the segment of high-end private healthcare, both for hospitals and medical insurance plans. International standards of healthcare is a key driver for the private healthcare market. We built our own network of close patient centric health partners.
We operate through a B2B2C model that requires a deep understanding of hospital and insurance sectors for an effective execution. The combination of our open platform and of our VIP solution for insurance companies allow us to collect data across a large base of users from various communities, giving us valuable insights on customer’s needs and behaviors.
Our solution for insurers is a SaaS (software as a service) and is at the same time customizable, secure and easily scalable. We leverage our own tech development and also external technologies or services that could be delivered through a single digital customer experience for insurance members.
We recently heard about the US-based startup “Brighter” that got acquired by Cigna in mid-December 2017. Brighter offers a similar tool for insurers that connects consumers and providers which supports the increase of quality of care and maximizes cost-savings. As a third-party that concentrates recommendations and referrals, The CareVoice offers more transparency and better recommendations where health consumers should go for their medical check than from an insurance company.
In which countries are you active?
In China we are currently active in China’s key cities where most companies have their headquarters: Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Beijing, Chengdu. We are planning to enter the Southeast Asian market within the upcoming months and are currently considering key cities in the region such as Hong Kong, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore or Jakarta.
How was your journey with The CareVoice for the last 3 years since your incorporation?
The first years were tough. We were trying to find a path, to survive and close funding. At that time, we were purely a “TripAdvisor for healthcare”. We soon reached 10,000 reviews from our first users and at the time we were trying to sell our service directly to hospitals with little success. A year and a half ago, we operated a shift in our business model and started focusing on two new key dimensions: 1) The premium segment, patients with higher income who also travel for their medical checks and 2) we started working with private institutions, who have less constraints than public institutions and a greater number of patients seeking international standards and transparency. Even some public institutions were interested to improve care for their patients but are facing patient volume and budget constraints.
With respect to your new funding round, how will you allocate the money and what can we expect during 2018?
Our first goal was to raise $1.5M but we closed our round at $2.2M. This allows us to further improve and expand our service. We will predominantly use the funding to expand our current team, from 15 people before the round to 25 people by March 2018. If all goes well, we shall double our headcount to 35 by the end of the year.
We also recruit more senior profiles, bringing expertise and knowledge to our tech and business teams. We recently hired an amazing new VP of Engineering, with more than 10 years experience in software architecture and development team management, and a Senior Business Developer with 15 years of experience in insurance in China who helps us manage our corporate clients and increase our portfolio of insurer clients. We aim to reach over 10 insurer clients and 200 new corporate accounts in 2018.
We are now looking for an in-house medical health analytics director, to accelerate building a quality and cost certified network of medical providers. By internalizing this role, this will help us to work more effectively and create more in-house expertise and insights.
What is most exciting about partnering with Haitao Capital and SOSV and were there other potential investors?
SOSV “The Accelerator VC” is an US-based accelerator fund that runs programs all over the world, including Chinaccelerator, the most successful start-up accelerator in China. We were accelerated in Chinaccelerator as part of the 10th batch. Having SOSV as an investor means having access to a vast network of startups worldwide: startups from their portfolio and startups from their acceleration programs. As an example, we are now partnering with a fitness start-up to offer their service to our corporate clients.
Haitao Capital is an early stage cross-border investor based in Shanghai. Its focus is mainly on macro trends and China matters such as upgrade of consumption, medical care, private and medical insurance. Haitao Capital works with a founder-focused approached. They allow founders to completely stay in control of the company yet they are still involved in the life of the company. As part of our board, one of the General Partner, Geoffrey Handley always ask the right questions to let us anticipate what we need to fix or do for next step of growth or development.
Artesian Capital Management, another VC operating mainly in Australia and Southeast Asia, followed on the round as well. Artesian recently opened a new 50-million dollar dedicated to early-stage investments in China and we are the first company of their portfolio. Artesian will definitely be a important partner when we will expand to Asia Pacific.
We are also very glad to have the support of Chinese and Southeast Asian healthcare investors with extensive entrepreneurial and investment experience in this sector who brings us complementary resources and support.
Looking into China, how much awareness of HealthTech is in the market?
In 2013, I was launching a diabetes management online platform for diabetic patients for Sanofi. At that time, the Chinese HealthTech landscape was almost non-existent. However, in recent years, the offer of healthtech services has exploded. Today, there are at least 10-20 mature with funding above $50M. A good example is Ping An Good Doctor which raised $500M in funding for its series A. The problem was the amount of big companies raising big funding rounds while most of them have been struggling to demonstrate validated monetization and to become profitable. Most of these players are Telemedicine companies, provide online medical consultation and other remote services. That’s said Chinese patients are more and more likely to pay for this kind of services than a couple of years ago.
Who in your perspective are the most active players in China and in your particular market at the intersection of HealthTech and InsurTech?
In health management services, Ping An Good Doctor is one of the most active players in China. For people with diabetes, Welltang’s mobile-based diabetes management tool is very successful and the company started working with insurers. In genomics and beyond, iCarbonX is obviously a key player to watch.
How important is it to The CareVoice to be connected to the stakeholders in the ecosystem?
We establish partnerships with first-class hospitals and clinics, helping them improve and demonstrate their quality of care and consolidating our network. But we also want to partner with other health service providers including healthtech or digital startups with complimentary solutions such as preventive care, health risk assessment, or virtual health professionals. In the InsurTech ecosystem, we are working with startups using AI to utilize claims and leverage claim data for insurers. On our side we bring value to our partner and insurance clients by “owning” the digital experience of our members, so that we can very easily improve the level of service we deliver.
How do you see the HealthTech landscape evolving outside China?
It is very difficult to say. I see the ecosystem even more fragmented than it was a couple of years ago. While the first generation of innovative startups (that survived) are now becoming more mature, newer startups are tackling similar projects with a more granular and more narrow focus leveraging more recent technologies especially big data and AI to deliver possibly more value.
How do you see Galen Growth Asia’s role in shaping the HealthTech landscape in Asia?
I appreciate the research you are sharing and your engagement within the HealthTech community. I very much enjoyed participating in your 2017 HealthTech Investor and CEO Summit, where you had a great mix of HealthTech startups, pharma companies and investors in the room. In the future, I am hoping to see more insurers involved in the discussion, engaging a larger variety of stakeholders to work on common problems and having white papers coming out of the discussions.
Interviewee: Sebastien Gaudin, Co-Founder & CEO of The CareVoice
Interviewed and authored by: Dario Heymann
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