Exclusive: Malaysia’s health-tech platform BookDoc on road to raise seed cap, wants to be more than booking app

BookDoc signs MoU with IJN on November 9, 2015.

Online healthcare platform BookDoc is working on closing its seed round funding from a prominent investor before the end of this year, and it will likely have the highest valuation for an Asia technology company again, according to its founder.

Founder Chevy Beh said, the startup, which connects patients with healthcare professionals through a booking app, is targeting to close its seed round by the end of this month, just two months after its pre-seed funding.

“The seed round will have a well-known investor on board, one of the world’s richest who has never done venture capital (VC) investments before,” he said, keeping mum on who the party will be.

The funding will drive Malaysia-based BookDoc’s product and service expansion, beyond its current booking feature.

He told DEALSTREETASIA that BookDoc has garnered interest from various notable investors for its fundraising rounds going forward, but the startup will need to achieve its targets to progress with its fundraising momentum.

“We have investors keen on seed, Series A and so on but we need to get the numbers, the customers and network of healthcare professionals to get to those rounds,” he said, at the sidelines of signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the National Heart Institute (IJN) of Malaysia today. The MoU marks BookDoc’s first partnership with a hospital.

Speaking at the signing, IJN chief executive officer Dr Mohd Azhari Yakub said the collaboration is timely as it is in line with the institute’s aspiration to further extend its cardiac specialist care services in Malaysia and neighbouring countries.

He noted that patients are increasingly tech savvy and the institute is addressing the demand for faster service. Yakub added that the IJN is in the midst of enhancing its IT capabilities, which the institute has been investing heavily in since 2013.

“We really want to make IJN more accessible to patients. We need to emphasise that, despite the persisting perception that we are always full and difficult to get an appointment at, we have the capabilities to take on the patient load. Patients can get treatment in a couple of days,” he commented on waiting time.

Reducing waiting time to see doctors is the main pain point in healthcare that BookDoc aims to resolve. Customers using the app can book appointments with their selected doctors through its platform, which also displays the doctors’ credentials, and connects with GPS to route them to the medical centres.

Asia’s highest valued pre-seed

In September, BookDoc raised its pre-seed round of funding, with reportedly the highest valuation for a technology startup in Asia so far.

Although the company did not reveal the amount raised in its pre-seed round, BookDoc has said it was a seven-digit figure in US dollar, which valued the company at close to an eight digit figure. The funds were channeled into growing the team and enhancing BookDoc’s technology.

The strategic partners, advisors and initial investors involved in BookDoc’s pre-seed funding come from a wide range of fields, among the ‘who’s who’ in their industries.

From healthcare backgrounds, there is the pro-chancellor of Universiti Sains Malaysia, Dr M. Jegathesan; former director of Armed Forces Health Services, Major General Dr Mohandas Ramasamy; former deputy director general of health system at the Ministry of Health, Dr Maimunah Hamid; and Sime Darby Healthcare former head of strategy Lee Mean Yeit.

BookDoc has also attracted investments from entrepreneurs Syed Budriz Putra, who is a founder and former chief executive officer of Sepang Aircraft Engineering (which is part of the Airbus Group), and Danny Yeung, who is former chief executive of Groupon East Asia and founder of Groupon Hong Kong. Yeung also invested in another Malaysian startup, KFit as an initial investor.

From the banking and insurance sectors are, Hong Leong Bank Bhd former chief executive officer Yvonne Chia, and Manulife Insurance Bhd chief marketing officer Kenny Thing.

BookDoc also calls Sharil Tarmizi, former chairman of Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission, one of its initial investors in the pre-seed round.

Fund fast, scale swiftly

The pace at which BookDoc is fundraising and scaling bears an uncanny resemblance to another fast-growing Malaysian startup – KFit. That comes as no surprise, as well-recognised entrepreneur Joel Neoh, the founder of KFit, is the co-founder in BookDoc.

“Joel has the knowledge in terms of VC funding and talking to investors while I am familiar with the healthcare industry,” Beh said when commenting about founding BookDoc alongside Neoh.

Prior to starting BookDoc in July 2015, Beh founded the Asian Healthcare Group Bhd, Asia’s first healthcare special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).

He was also a managing director at BP Healthcare Group and had founded Max Healthcare Ltd in 2010. Beh was once a director in Pantai Hospital Ipoh from 2008 to 2013, too.

Beh noted that having Neoh on board meant BookDoc’s learning curve was more forgiving, as KFit being the startup launched earlier (in May 2015), will have gone through fundraising and scaling processes which BookDoc can then learn from.

BookDoc has a steady income stream coming from the five corporate clients that have signed up to use its mobile platform for their staff force, on one- to three-year contracts. BookDoc charges the clients per employee per month.

Through those corporate clients, Beh said the platform is serving a crowd of over 20,000 customers. The startup also has a network of over 200 general practitioners and dentists, Beh added.

Now that BookDoc has signed a MoU with IJN, the startup is preparing itself for its first regional foray, marking Singapore as its second market.

“We are looking to sign with a hospital in Singapore by the end of this month, and with one in Hong Kong in December,” Beh said during a press conference at the signing.

After Singapore and Hong Kong, BookDoc is looking to grow its Southeast Asia footprint, with Indonesia and Thailand in the pipeline.

Aside from expanding into other markets, BookDoc is also looking to offer other services and products, which Beh did not elaborate on.

“We are not just about the booking, that feature is just the appetiser,” he said.

Also read:

Singapore’s DocDoc raises $8.5m in Series A round led by Hong Leong Financial Group

SG’s healthtech startup eVida raises first round of funding

PH health tech startup mClinica picks up equity stake in Medix

India: Networking platform DocPlexus secures $700k from Uniqorn Ventures, ASP Consulting

KFit raises seed funding of single-digit $m from 500 Startups, others

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.