“Before I started WhiteCoat, I was a corporate lawyer and always found it difficult to schedule a time to visit clinics because of meetings and other priorities,” recalls Mr. Koh. “Three years ago, I was about to go to South Africa, but had no time to get travel medication because I was swamped with work. I nearly didn’t get the medication, but was fortunate that I was able to turn to my sister – a doctor – for advice. Unfortunately, not everyone is as lucky so I started WhiteCoat, which is a digital healthcare provider that offers on-demand telemedicine services via real-time video communications. Through our in-house developed mobile application, users can select any of our Singapore-registered staff doctors for video consultations – wherever you are.”
In a nutshell, tell us more about WhiteCoat.
WhiteCoat is a digital healthcare provider offering on-demand telemedicine services via real-time video communications. By using our in-house developed mobile application from wherever you are, users can instantly select any of our Singapore-registered staff doctors for a video consultation. Our doctors can provide medical attention for a range of common and chronic conditions and if medically required, issue a medical certificate or a referral letter and prescribe medication in-app, which can then be delivered as quickly as 2 hours after the conclusion of the consult.
Our goal has always been to improve the way patients and employees interact with doctors, increasing convenience while maintaining the high level of medical care and adhering to regulations and safeguards. We also want to play a key role in advancing our nation’s healthcare sector, by making healthcare more accessible and empowering patients to take charge of their own health-related decisions, while enabling caregivers to achieve the best possible medical outcomes for patients in their care.
Walk us through the steps you took leading up to WhiteCoat’s launch. What were some challenges you met along the way and how did you overcome them?
It took three years of planning, building and engagement with healthcare stakeholders (culminating in WhiteCoat being the earliest participant in the Ministry of Health (Singapore)’s regulatory sandbox) to create the WhiteCoat and team we see today, where we strive to deliver quality healthcare accessibly and affordably, and importantly, to ensure that everyone has access to doctor they trust.
What do you think are the advantages of youth in this industry, particularly when it comes to the tech side of WhiteCoat?
Age is just a number to me and being young has its merits. You don’t know what “normal” or “best practice” or “standard” even means, which may be just what the doctor ordered when it comes to running a disruptive startup that seeks to change the way in which healthcare has traditionally been delivered. I have always believed that startups don’t succeed simply because of the age of their founders, they do so because they have an idea for which there is a need in the market and for which they have the requisite skills and support required to successfully bring the product or service to market.
Having said that, I was fortunate to be able to bridge the healthcare gap from day one through my sister, who is a practising cardiologist, where together with my legal background, ensured that the digital solution rolled out was compliant on both the medical and regulatory fronts.
What advice do you have for young, aspiring entrepreneurs that you wish someone told you when you were getting started?
Running a startup is like running a marathon at a sprinter’s pace. It is important that you learn to be fast and agile, nimble and adaptable to change, embrace and learn from failure and continue to grow and expand at pace in the shortest amount of time without compromise to quality.
That being said, each startup has different types of sprints during its lifespan – product feature releases, strategic partnerships, fundraising, regional expansion etc. –and it is important to dictate the pace that works best for you and your company at the appropriate juncture. While running a startup may appear to be a mad dash to a never-ending finish line, always remember to enjoy the journey and feel that it’s an ongoing race you are lucky to be a part of.
1. Hire your weaknesses and not your strengths - The analogy has been repeated so often it’s already cliché, but that doesn’t mean it does not hold true. In a startup where resources are lean, especially during the initial stages, if you only hire people that are just like you, namely with your strengths and weaknesses, you will be exposing the company to experience and knowledge gaps in important functional areas and reducing the possibility of innovation and flexibility due to a lack of team diversity.
2. Always seek customer truth - Relentlessly seek customer truth and research market trends, whilst immersing yourself not just in technology but its application. It is vital to learn and understand as much as possible about current or prospective customers, which would allow you to build a great quality brand and product which cannot be easily substituted. The customer experience is first and foremost and every single customer experience is a brand moment of truth.