Singapore Caregiving Platform Homage Hustles To Hold Up With Demand For Care As Asia Ages6 min read
As Asian populations get older, Homage CEO Gillian Tee is rising the digital platform’s pool of caregivers, nurses and docs to fulfill rising demand.
Gillian Tee was 10 when the aged nanny who helped increase her handed away from most cancers. That have, and a detailed bond together with her grandmother, made Tee conscious of the every day assist wanted by many seniors, and the battle households face find certified care. Over 20 years later she cofounded Singapore-based Homage, which at this time claims to have the most important pool of caregivers within the city-state that households can rent by an app.
“I believe most individuals in healthcare startups begin within the trade as a result of they’d some private experiences,” says the 40-year-old CEO by video. The pc science graduate (College of Melbourne) received her first style of working a enterprise after getting an M.B.A. from Columbia College. In 2012, she cofounded New York-based ticket reserving platform Rocketrip. Just a few years later she moved again to Singapore to be nearer to household, the place she noticed a chance to marry digital know-how with home-based care companies. “I actually believed within the idea of doing effectively by doing good,” she says of her determination to begin Homage with cofounders Lily Phang and Tong Duong, who’ve since left the corporate.
Since launching in 2016, Homage has grown to fifteen,000 part- and full-time caregivers, expanded to Malaysia and Australia, and raised greater than $45 million in funding from traders together with Sheares Healthcare Group, owned by Singapore state fund Temasek, and Southeast Asia-focused Golden Gate Ventures.
The corporate’s transfer into Malaysia in 2018 helped enhance income by 170% to S$1.8 million ($1.3 million) in 2020, whereas losses narrowed to S$4.8 million from S$5.8 million, in line with the newest out there figures. Tee says gross sales greater than tripled final yr and worldwide revenues grew eightfold previously 18 months, following the corporate’s growth into Australia in 2021.
Homage, which made the 100 to Watch record this yr, has additionally diversified past caregiving to incorporate companies corresponding to telemedicine, medication supply and the sale of medical merchandise. Tee is now centered on tackling the problem of maintaining with demand for care as Asia ages. In Singapore, authorities figures present the variety of individuals aged 65 or over made up nearly 17% of its resident inhabitants in 2022.
Demand for expert caregivers is growing steadily not simply in Singapore, however throughout the Asia-Pacific, dwelling to a few of the world’s oldest and quickest growing older populations. Within the subsequent decade, the area will account for 60% of the world’s over-65 inhabitants and also will have 250 million diabetics, in line with Vikram Kapur, companion and head of Asia-Pacific healthcare at consultancy Bain in Singapore. “Healthcare on this a part of the world is absolutely at a tipping level,” Kapur says.
In Singapore and Malaysia—the place the aged are primarily cared for by relations, live-in home assist, or attendants in nursing houses or these contracted from brick-and-mortar companies—Homage’s digital platform offers a distinct segment decentralized service in an more and more tech-savvy area. A report this yr by Bain discovered extra individuals in Southeast Asia started utilizing digital healthcare instruments due to restricted entry to in-person appointments through the pandemic. As with on-line meals supply and fintech, many proceed to make use of digital healthcare due to its comfort, the report added. “Shopper expectations are altering rather a lot,” says Kapur. “For meals supply and different companies, you get nearly quick entry. However there’s frustration with healthcare.”
Homage is attempting to resolve that drawback by enabling households to rent part- and full-time caregivers for durations starting from one hour to versatile pay as you go packages of as much as 200 hours that it gives at revealed charges. Its app has over 15,000 downloads on the Google Play retailer and the corporate claims to have provided greater than 1 million hours of service to clients. In contrast with Singapore’s Physician Wherever—a preferred telemedicine app with over one million downloads in Southeast Asia that guarantees video session with a physician in underneath 5 minutes—Homage says it will probably organize such digital appointments inside half-hour, plus home calls inside a day. It sends caregivers inside two days.
“In the course of the pandemic, we discovered that many stroke sufferers required telemedicine companies,” says Tee. “So, we’ve [telemedicine], which is an ancillary as a result of it provides to the well-being of sufferers.” Homage’s transfer into promoting medical and healthcare merchandise corresponding to blood stress displays is supposed to additionally serve a necessity. “We’ll at all times focus [on] the care recipient,” she says. “For instance, what does a stroke affected person want? We’ll at all times have a look at what could be a higher resolution for the affected person.”
“I actually believed within the idea of doing effectively by doing good.”
Tee’s additionally been busy elevating capital. There was an undisclosed “double-digit” sequence B spherical in January 2020, led by EV Development, a three way partnership between Southeast Asia-focused East Ventures, YJ Capital (a subsidiary of SoftBank-backed Z Holdings, now a part of its company enterprise capital arm Z Enterprise Capital) and SMDV, backed by the billionaire Widjaja household’s Sinar Mas conglomerate in Indonesia. That adopted a $4.15 million sequence A funding in 2018, led by Golden Gate Ventures and HealthXCapital.
In September final yr, the corporate accomplished a $30 million sequence C spherical, led by Temasek’s Sheares Healthcare, which invests in and offers healthcare companies in Asia. Homage says the funds might be used to scale up its platform and double down on its abroad operations in Malaysia and Australia, that are its key development drivers. Nonetheless, Homage could also be hitting pace bumps. In late October, a spokesperson for Homage mentioned the corporate “is making a number of key strategic adjustments in response to the macro setting,” later including these adjustments are in relation to its Australian growth plans. When requested to make clear, the spokesperson didn’t reply.
To maintain Homage on a development trajectory, Tee should overcome contemporary challenges of an unsure financial setting and recruiting healthcare professionals quick sufficient from a dwindling expertise pool. “We’re not doubling nursing faculties yearly,” she says. “So [supply] is linear, however the demand is rising exponentially due to the growing older inhabitants.”
The scarcity of caregivers for the aged is especially acute in Australia, Homage’s latest market. “The pandemic has escalated burnout and lowered retention charges,” says Sharon Hakkennes, vp analyst at Gartner’s healthcare follow. “Clinicians are leaving the occupation.” Australia’s aged care sector may face a scarcity of not less than 110,000 employees within the subsequent decade, in line with a 2021 report by the Committee for Financial Improvement of Australia, a nonprofit group.
Hakkennes says digital applied sciences corresponding to Homage’s platform may also help alleviate the scarcity by permitting healthcare professionals to entry and deal with sufferers extra effectively. “[Digital technology] goes to allow scale,” she says. “And after we’re combating the scientific workforce, that’s going to be essential.” Apart from enabling aged care amenities to faucet right into a “vetted pool of licensed care professionals,” Homage claims on its Australian web site that its platform allows customers from numerous backgrounds to entry caregivers who can communicate 93 languages, together with signal language.
In the meantime, Tee is doing all she will to incentivize healthcare professionals to hitch her firm’s platform. In March 2020, Homage partnered with Singapore-based insurance coverage know-how firm Gigacover to offer healthcare advantages to all its healthcare professionals and their dependents. A month later, Homage launched a fund to offer them with monetary help through the peak of the pandemic. “Our care professionals are our principal shoppers—they’re our care recipients, if you wish to put it that approach,” says Tee. “We must always handle them. Why? In order that they’ll handle different individuals.”