Learnings on Growing as an Early Stage Venture-Backed HealthTech Company from Ease Healthcare CEO and co-founder Guadalupe Lazaro

Photo of NUS Tech Module Session with Ease Healthcare's Guadalupe Lazaro

Learnings on Growing as an Early Stage Venture-Backed HealthTech Company from Ease Healthcare CEO and co-founder Guadalupe Lazaro

Learnings on Growing as an Early Stage Venture-Backed HealthTech Company from Ease Healthcare CEO and co-founder Guadalupe Lazaro

Last Friday was a new session for NUS’s The Venture Capital Funding for TechVenture Module led by Adjunct Professor Tan Kim Seng and Adjunct Assistant Professor Anthony Chow (igloo CEO and an Insignia portfolio founder as well).

In that session, our in-house counsel Clement Chan sat down with Singapore femtech Ease Healthcare CEO and co-founder Guadalupe (Guada) Lazaro to talk about Guada’s journey and her learnings as a VC-backed early-stage company in Singapore.

Quick origin story for Guada: She hails from Argentina, and came to Singapore through the Yale-NUS program, studying anthropology with a focus on gender and sexuality studies. She started Ease Healthcare in her last year of university with Rio Hoe to fill the gap of reproductive health services as these were not considered essential services amidst the pandemic.

So what is Ease Healthcare? Even in its inception, the vision for Ease was to ultimately become a women’s health ecosystem. Following their go-to market with reproductive health services, they launched their own line of supplements and intimate care products, as well as telemedicine services specific to fertility, menopause, and more.

“…the challenges that women face are challenges that are quite universal in many ways, things like fertility, pregnancy, and menopause…we see ourselves as being in a very strong position to cater to these needs, not just in Singapore, but beyond the region as well.” – Ease co-founder Rio Hoe, On Call with Insignia (2022)

Now back to some of the learnings Guada shared in the NUS module:

(1) There needs to be motivation to scale on top of existing growth. 

Simply needing money for the business is not enough. Ease saw VC funding as a way to double down on the initiatives that were helping scale the company, and also fuel new initiatives like their mobile app (read more about the app launch here) to strengthen their existing product-market fit, and their own line of white-label products.

“[The Ease app] allows everything to be in one place where [users] can easily access telehealth services, preventive products, chats with doctors, community as well as educational content in order to ensure that they get a well-rounded, supported healthcare experience.” – Ease co-founder Rio Hoe, On Call with Insignia (2022)

(2) Is there business model replicability at scale? 

Even with proof of a product market with revenue growth, retention numbers, and customer love, as well as a brightening spotlight on the industry, replicability is also an important foundation to unlock for a venture-backed company to scale. Guada realized the importance of this replicability as the company saw opportunities to expand both geographically and horizontally as well.

“We wanted to [be more proactive], aside from providing services that target different women’s health issues, which are a little bit more reactive…the process to develop these products is actually quite data-driven…we test product ideas through our community…we do a lot of product sampling as well.” – Guadalupe Lazaro, On Call with Insignia (2022)

(3) VCs best come in when 0 to 1 is solved and the company needs support going 1 to 100. 

Guada saw the value of having a VC partner as a first time founder expanding their horizon on what Ease could achieve, creating structure around scale, and developing a more data-driven approach. “0 to 1 is doable, 1 to 100 needs a lot of strategy, experimentation and critical thinking. And this is where venture capital partners like Insignia can really support you.” 

(4) Figuring out go-to market replicability is important when operating in a space where consumer education is key, like women’s health. 

Educating consumers on how to make a change in their habits can take up a lot of creativity and resources. Outside perspectives can be helpful in this regard, but ultimately the goal is to create repeatable, structured playbooks to scale this education across brands and markets within an ecosystem.

(5) When it comes to fundraising, it’s not just about size (tomorrow) but urgency (today). 

Urgency can be demonstrated with revenue, user sign ups, MOUs signed, etc — any metric that shows the market wants the product or service today. Urgency can reshape an investor’s view on market size especially if the market seems niche or has high barriers to education. “In 2020 people thought women’s health was niche, but we knew it was a very promising market. We just needed to educate consumers and investors.”

“…a lot of the stories that we hear actually [come from] the community section of our app, as well as some community questions that we run on the weekends on Instagram…it reminds us of the importance of a platform like Ease that really transforms the access that these women have to these healthcare services.”  – Guadalupe Lazaro, On Call with Insignia (2022)

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Paulo Joquiño is a writer and content producer for tech companies, and co-author of the book Navigating ASEANnovation. He is currently Editor of Insignia Business Review, the official publication of Insignia Ventures Partners, and senior content strategist for the venture capital firm, where he started right after graduation. As a university student, he took up multiple work opportunities in content and marketing for startups in Asia. These included interning as an associate at G3 Partners, a Seoul-based marketing agency for tech startups, running tech community engagements at coworking space and business community, ASPACE Philippines, and interning at workspace marketplace FlySpaces. He graduated with a BS Management Engineering at Ateneo de Manila University in 2019.