Brunei prince puts $2m into tech start-up

Medicine is increasingly moving online. Source:

BookDoc, a health-care technology start-up launched in Malaysia in October, has raised a seed round of financing which includes a US$2 million investment from Prince Abdul Qawi of the House of Bolkiah, Brunei’s ruling family.

While a Saudi prince has shares in Twitter, Snapchat, Apple, Fox and AOL, this is the first known investment from a Brunei royal in a tech start-up.

The 41-year-old is chairman of Brunei Hotel and other ventures.

BookDoc, an entrant into the online doctor bookings market, has expanded to Singapore and Hong Kong since opening in Malaysia.

The service compares itself to billion-dollar US firm ZocDoc and India’s Practo, which is now available in Southeast Asia, and DocDoc in Singapore.

BookDoc is an online health-care platform that aims to connect patients and medics enabling timely access, reducing waste and allowing better-informed choices.

It hopes to provide 24-hour access to health care for those in need.

Chevy Beh, co-founder of BookDoc, said he met the prince, seventh in line to the Brunei throne, through polo.

Beh said the funding round and valuation were the largest of any seed-stage start-up company in Asia.

He added that the company wanted to go beyond patient bookings and expand into insurance and offer a health-services marketplace from third parties.

Beh said he was targeting expansion into Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines in the next few months.

BookDoc announced that it was already the market leader in Malaysia, establishing strategic tie-ups with specialised hospitals in Malaysia, like the National Heart Institute, the largest private hospital in Malaysia in terms of revenue and bed numbers. It also works with Sime Darby Ramsay Healthcare and Ramsay Health Care, the largest hospital group in Australia, and Malaysia’s National Eye Hospital.

Beh said: “The latest funding round is really a shot in the arm. The record valuation of the seed round is a resounding endorsement of the execution track record of the team and will spur us on to strive forward with more innovative partnerships while perfecting our solutions. Moreover, we have greater financial flexibility now to seek out long-term strategic investors which could complement our future business growth.”

In a bid to realise its vision to improve access to health care, BookDoc has recently joined the ride-hailing start-up GrabTaxi in Malaysia to extend from virtual booking to include transport.

It also said it had formed an advisory group with health-care professionals to advise BookDoc on content, medical ethics and regulatory matters.

The Brunei funding will help expand the workforce, fund technological development and strengthen the infrastructure to enable growth throughout Asean.

A range of investors, from entrepreneurs to health-care and insurance professionals, bankers, regulators and technology experts, back BookDoc.