After spending 15 years abroad, a Singaporean businessman Gillian T decided to come home in 2016 to be closer to her family.
It was what she called a “perfect storm”.
Three of her close relatives had chronic diseases T quickly discovered “pain points” in caring for individuals who needed specialized care.
“Suppose you fell and broke your hip, the medical part is quite clear. You have to find specialists, you can go to … [a] A public hospital or a private hospital.
“But what happens when you need to go home, when you need to go back to your community and your home, what is the care plan? What is the right thing to think about, in terms of proof of home, and mobility aid?”
That’s when she decided to start Homage, a company that matches patients who need long-term home care with qualified providers.
Since 2017, when the company was founded, the startup has raised $45 million, she said by naming prominent investors such as Golden Gate Ventures Sheares and Healthcare Group — a wholly owned subsidiary of Temasek, as well as startup 500 Startups.
Homage is now valued at more than $100 million, according to Tee.
But this isn’t the 40-year-old’s first foray into entrepreneurship. She was a management consultant at Accenture When she came across a book that changed her career path.
“I started out as a software developer, and I was very drawn to it because I love building things. But what really hit me was this app concept,” she said. CNBC Make It.
She was referring to the book Founders at Work: Stories from the Early Days of Startupsby Jessica Livingston, co-founder of seed stage investment firm Y Combinator.
“How can I use technology to build something that people can use, and that affects their lives?”
Thus began Tee’s entrepreneurial journey, which includes spending two years in Silicon Valley, which she co-founded Rocket in 2013. It is a website that motivates business travelers to save their employers money on trip expenses.
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T said building an app for travel or healthcare, business fundamentals never change.
“You need to know your market really well. Learn about cost drivers, growth drivers, and demand drivers.”
Te added that Homage is currently in three markets – Singapore, Malaysia and Australia, where there are “unique characteristics” that correlate well with the problem the company is trying to solve.
“We looked at the lack of caregivers, the nature of an aging population and chronic disease – which, interestingly, is not only due to age, but is highly correlated with urbanization.”
As Homage users extend beyond the elderly, the opportunity in elderly technology It continues to grow as people live longer. In Asia alone, One in four people will be over 60 years old by 2050, according to the Asian Development Bank.
Still, T said she’s “a big fan of going deep and not going out” at work.
“Focus is everything. We have a very clear view of what the markets are, if we have to expand further [countries]. “But the focus at the moment is on deepening our existing markets,” she added.
T said business fundamentals are important, but entrepreneurs should “focus on people first.”
This has served Homage well in providing the best care to her clients, and to Tee who had no prior experience in healthcare.
“It is important to rely on clinical management and compliance professionals. That is why we have our Director of Nursing, for example, who has 20 years of experience in various medical fields,” said T.
“A big part of what we do is we need to synthesize the quality of care with product and technology. This is the team you need to build – I try to do my best, but I bring in people who are a lot better than me.”
T said being an entrepreneur can be lonely, especially when you’re a woman.
“You get mean comments, but of course, less so now because there’s a reputation and respect built in.”
But things weren’t always easy at first. For example, [a director] He said to me once, ‘You know, now I know why the newspapers highlight you, because your eyes are so beautiful. ”
“This is my motto like everything I go by: I have to be twice as tough, be more data-driven and be very blunt. I think we are [female entrepreneurs] We have to do more to prove our point.”
However, Tee has learned to take things in her stride and rely on the people she cares about.
She added, “There are 100 problems, but there are also 100 good things. You have to get rid of the noise and be okay with that intensity.”
“It’s exhilarating in some ways, but tiring in a lot of other ways. Rely on your team, and be open, vulnerable, and transparent with them. I think that’s the most important thing.”
What does innovation mean for Tee? It’s about making an impact on users.
“The Homage mission is very close and dear to me,” she said. “At the end of the day, there’s nothing better than building something people can get a fix on.”