MBA Program: Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
Industry: Healthcare telemedicine
Founding Student Name(s): Yunhan Gao; Xufei Yu; Shuaiqing Liu; Shujing Peng
Brief Description of Solution: Aureum is a digital primary care provider for white-collar professionals in China, where the primary care doctor penetration rate is <5%. Unlike existing digital health firms in China (e.g. Ping-An Good Doctor), which typically link existing specialists in hospital with patients on an on-demand basis, Aureum matches each of its patient to a dedicated primary care doctor who will advise them on every step of their health journey.
Funding Dollars: $30K
What led you to launch this venture? Seeing a doctor is rarely a pleasant experience, but in China it can be a real nightmare. Growing up in China, I vividly remember the scenes where I was stuck in a crowd in the hospital waiting room for more than 5 hours for less than 3 minutes of doctor consultation. More recently, I ran into several occasions when families and friends did not receive adequate diagnosis and treatment for significant illnesses because they did not find the right care team.
In the process of helping them find the right doctors, I realized a common factor that contribute to both the crowded hospitals and lack of care coordination: the lack of access to primary care. This is why when I received the offer from Wharton, which has one of the best healthcare MBA programme globally, I knew the opportunity has come to launch Aureum.
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with venture? Since launching its Beta Testing in early 2020, Aureum has now over 300 paid users on its subscription plan, with a 3-month renewal rate of 70%. During the Coronavirus outbreak in in Wuhan, Aureum provide free and continuous remote care to 100+ patients in the lock-downed city, helping them with early symptoms diagnosis, mental wellness, and recovery and eventually seeing all the patients recover. In recognize of its volunteering effort, Aureum and its founders were recognized as the 2020 Top 30 under 30 entrepreneurs by American Asian Chinese Youth Association.
Aureum was also the winner of the Wharton Summer Venture Awards ($10K prize), finalist at Penn Wharton Start-up Challenge and the finalist of the Penn Wharton China Summit InnoTalk competition.
How has your MBA program helped you further this startup venture? First of all, it has been the people. I met both of my cofounders through The Wharton Healthcare Management (HCM) MBA programme. Despite not being in the HCM programme, I was able to take many HCM classes and received advice on Aureum and the wider telehealth market from classmates and professors.
Second, the wider Penn and Wharton community offers a vibrant entrepreneurial community and excellent programmes to support entrepreneurship. The path for MBA entrepreneurs can sometimes be lonely and full of uncertainty, but the school makes sure there are always mentors to support you and exciting competition to push the venture forwards.
Which MBA class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it?
Wharton has a suite of entrepreneurship classes ranging from idea generation to implementation to venture scaling. However, my personal experiences are that it is difficult to structure entrepreneurship and the best lessons are learned from doing and failing on the way. I would leverage the classes to share the obstacles and failures of my ventures and trying to gain 3rd party perspectives on the topic. The most valuable inputs typically come from discussions with professors and classmates during classes and off classes.
What professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why?I met my mentors Samir Malik and Bikram Bakshi through the Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship Mentoring Program. They were pivotal to Aureum as they were both successful healthcare entrepreneurs. As a result, they were able to offer first-hand experience navigating the healthcare sector.
How did the pandemic impact your startup plans? The pandemic presents both threats and opportunities to Aureum. The global economic impact of COVID-19 makes this year incredibly difficult to raise capital. However, the pandemic also put healthcare and especially telehealth under the spotlight. In particular, we are leveraging the heightened interests on health and wellness to push forwards our family care package to the market.
What is your long-term goal with your startup? Our vision is to make healthcare more personal, accessible and accurate for Chinese patients. We want to offer our users the opportunity to have private and uninterrupted consultation with their trusted primary care physician without having to desperately search for a doctor themselves. We want to enhance our users’ healthcare experience and outcome through the use of technology and data.
Primary care inevitably will play a more important role in the Chinese healthcare system and Aureum wants to be a catalyst for it.
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