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Going global, thanks to support from the Government

SINGAPORE — When Ms Rosaline Chow Koo first set up ConneXionsAsia (CXA), an online platform for health and wellness plans, she already had in mind plans to take the business far beyond Singapore’s shores.

Going global, thanks to support from the Government

Ms Rosaline Chow Koo, founder of online platform for health and wellness plans, ConneXionsAsia. Photo: Bloomberg

SINGAPORE — When Ms Rosaline Chow Koo first set up ConneXionsAsia (CXA), an online platform for health and wellness plans, she already had in mind plans to take the business far beyond Singapore’s shores. 

Having worked for a multinational corporation (MNC) before, leading 14 countries in her role, she knew very well the importance of scaling up any business globally.

“We focused on the Fortune 500 (customers) which had offices all across Asia, and they wanted one single vendor ... across the region. So it was important to have offices in every country,” said Ms Koo, who moved to Singapore from the United States in 1996 before starting CXA in 2013.

On the CXA platform, employees can choose from different benefits and wellness plans — including insurance, dental care and yoga classes — using credits given by their employers. The company’s growth has caught the eye of Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin: On Wednesday (Feb 8), CXA announced that it has raised US$25 million (S$35 million) in a funding round led by Mr Saverin’s B Capital Group and Singapore-based government investment vehicle EDBI.

Among other strategies, the Committee on the Future Economy report  — which was released on Thursday — has recommended that the Government strengthen the national branding of its start-up ecosystem to raise the profile of innovative start-ups. 

Compared to an MNC, breaking into overseas markets as a start-up was different, Ms Koo noted, and government support was crucial when she decided to enter the Hong Kong market barely three years after she founded the company in 2013. 

Bigger plans are on the cards: The start-up is making forays into China this year, and partnering another company to expand to another seven countries in Asia. 

“Every step was hard in Hong Kong, even setting up a bank account was difficult as I did not have residency there. I also needed help from IE Singapore in getting a brokerage licence, as the system was changing at the time,” she said. 

“Before, the brokers association in Hong Kong was the body issuing licences, but the system changed, and the regulator took over the function. 

“We needed help to understand what we should do, and IE Singapore connected us to the right people within the regulatory body. I think it helped to be seen as a start-up which had the support of IE Singapore too.”

Ms Koo, 55, who has founded two start-ups previously, believes that it is increasingly harder to take companies international. She welcomes any assistance from government agencies, noting that they have the networks and resources to understand various markets.

“It is tough, especially in China, as it is protective of its own companies. We need a local partner, and so we decided to work with one of the largest Chinese companies active in the insurance space. EDBI supported us by making sure we are navigating the waters safely, as it is scary going into China,” she said.

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