Is the future of healthcare digital? Elias Pour, the founder of the Singapore-based telehealth platform ORA, thinks so – but also believes that the winners in this market will offer more than just a digital experience. ORA, announcing today a $10 million Series A funding round, is a vertically integrated platform built on that vision.
Pour is a former chief marketing officer at Southeast Asian e-commerce giant Zalora, where he saw an accelerating trend well before the Covid-19 pandemic brought increased attention to digital health. “We saw a younger generation of consumers in the Southeast Asian region really show a lot more interest in taking care of themselves,” he recalls. “They wanted to look and feel good, and they spent more of their disposable income on that.”
Pour’s vision for ORA started there, with the company launching in 2021. It offers healthcare services through three separate brands: Modules focuses on dermatology and offers skin care treatments and consulting; andSons targets the male health market; and OVA provides female reproductive health care. The brands operate individually but are based on the infrastructure that ORA has built up at group level.
ORA has grown rapidly with consultations provided digitally. It has generated more than 250,000 consultations since launch and the number of customers is growing every month. But more importantly, Pour believes vertical integration is key to building a sustainable long-term business, especially given factors such as rising pharmacy costs. The company has invested in brick-and-mortar clinics that also allow it to provide care, it has its own pharmacy business and is also developing its own ranges of treatments and products. The brands should be available in 1,300 stores later this year.
The direct-to-consumer model works especially well in Southeast Asia, Pour says, where about 40% of healthcare spending is paid by individuals themselves. Add to that demographic factors, including the rapid growth of the affluent middle class in several countries in the region and concerns about rapidly rising healthcare costs, and there’s room for a vertically integrated challenger brand that can make a huge impact.
It also helps that the areas ORA has focused on are those where people need help with chronic conditions rather than one-off treatments. About 70% of the company’s revenue is recurring — largely through subscriptions — and ORA boasts better retention rates than Netflix, Pour says.
Building those relationships with younger people, who want support for non-life-threatening conditions that nevertheless undermine their confidence and happiness, is crucial, the company believes. “Our whole thesis is that if we can build those trusting relationships today, we can help our patients with other conditions later in life,” Pour added.
Indeed, expanding into new treatment areas would be an obvious growth strategy, with ORA already looking closely at areas such as weight management. The company is also looking to expand geographically. The Middle East, where consumers also pay a significant portion of healthcare costs out of pocket, is one option under consideration – ORA is specifically targeting Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries as likely target markets.
Hence the need for investment. Today’s Series A announcement brings the total amount raised by the company to more than $17 million, with the round led by TNB Aura and Antler, and participation from Gobi Partners, Kairous Capital and GMA Ventures.
Charles Wong, Founding Partner at TNB Aura, believes the company can continue to grow rapidly. “ORA’s combined focus on specialized and often taboo vertical healthcare, as well as a direct-to-patient approach, has led the team to clearly differentiate itself,” he argues.
Teddy Himler, Global Partner at Antler, added: “There are more than 1 billion people in Southeast Asia and the GCC who are underserved by the traditional healthcare system, and we believe ORA’s platform approach is the future of direct-to- – patient healthcare worldwide.”
Investors in other companies also think the potential is huge. In Australia, for example, telehealth company Eucalyptus just raised more than $30 million in new funding. Hims & Hers, one of the world’s best-known health and wellness companies, recently announced that sales nearly doubled last year to more than $500 million.
“We are defining a new category in which we combine prescription, over-the-counter and high strength consumer products in one proposition with excellent follow-up service and clinical continuity,” added ORA’s Pour. “This segment of patients puts health care and disease prevention at the top of their concerns and follows with their wallets.”