Follow A Female Founder: Gillian Tee

What do you do when you discover an overlooked problem in the healthcare industry? Create the solution for it. And that is exactly what Gillian Tee did with her startup, Homage. Read about her brilliant feat as Female Founders, a non-profit organisation in Singapore that focuses on female tech entrepreneurship, features Gillian’s profile in our ongoing Follow A Female Founder series.

Gillian Tee

Homage (http://www.homage.sg)


Industry: Health Technology & Services

Revenue model: Service fee for every hour of caregiving provided through the platform

3 year plan: We plan to continue to invest in our care quality and scale our services in Singapore and Southeast Asia.


Describe three of the most significant growth curves in your business.

The three most significant growth curves are firstly, the pool of caregivers we were able to gather. We were able to recruit more than 300 care professionals within less than 1 year of operations as compared to one of the largest traditional home care agencies that has only 70 care staff on their payroll after more than 5 years of operations.

Secondly, we were able to start generating revenue within half a year of operations, averaging 20–30% month-on-month revenue growth since the official launch of the business.

Finally, we officially partnered with some of the largest local care organizations within 6 months from our official launch of services. We’re continually adding new partnerships with organizations we can work with and have added 3 additional ones since our first formal partnership.

How does your business fit into the future of your industry?

Singapore’s Ministry of Health, this year, indicated that 30,000 more healthcare workers will be needed by 2020 due to increasing pressure on the healthcare system by an ageing population. By 2030, one out of four people will be aged 65 and above. Also, in a decade, for every senior aged 65 and above, there will only be on average two working adults to support each elderly. This makes a model like Homage that activates a larger local caregiving workforce very much needed in Singapore.

What has been your biggest insight or lesson learned about running a business?

The biggest insight is that it all comes back to the fundamentals of knowing your numbers and having resilience.

The business accelerator Y-Combinator that funded my first company Rocketrip has a term for the modern phenomena where everyone is rushing to found startups due to the media hype. They call it playing the “startup game”, where attending conferences, appearing in press and raising seed venture capital has overshadowed the fundamentals of building a business. The media does not focus on all the underlying economics, hardship, real risks and the amount of time it takes to build and scale a company. Nowadays whenever people ask me for advice to give to aspiring technology entrepreneurs, I always urge them to, before they take the leap, learn more about what it involves and figure out if the problem they’re looking to solve with their company is really worthwhile to them, because they will have to devote a good part of their life to the business.

What has been your scariest moment? How did you resolve it?

The scariest moments have been moments you question yourself if it’s all worthwhile. Because scaling a startup is challenging on so many levels, every founder is bound to have those moments that cause them to be pushed to their core. That’s the moment you know, when no one is looking and you’re going through a particularly challenging day, week, month, year that you know whether what you’re working on is fundamentally meaningful to you and solving the problem is what drives you.

What is the one piece of advice you want to give to aspiring women entrepreneurs?

Look, I’d be frank. The numbers don’t look good, 7% of partners at top 100 venture firms are women, and women hold just under 12% of the partner roles at both accelerator and venture-backed firms. 12% of venture rounds and 10% of venture dollars globally between 2010 and 2015 went to startups with at least one woman founder. It’s important to know and face the numbers and the odds head on and know that you can be a part of change. The good thing is that problem solving is the ultimate equalizer. Finding the right solution to the right and big enough problem is genderless. When you find something to build that people want and build it well, you’ll be set.

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