We’ve covered Fave before and especially the journey of Fave co-founder Joel Neoh, as they navigated the complicated fintech landscape in Southeast Asia.

Joel was most recently the founder of Fave, a leading Southeast Asian fintech platform backed by Sequoia Capital and acquired for US$45 million by fintech and payments unicorn Pine Labs. Joel previously founded GroupsMore, which was acquired by Groupon, and oversaw the APAC business, which employed over 2,000 people.

So, when it was announced that Joel Neoh is now leading CircleDNA (part of the Prenetics Group), we were excited to see where this would lead. According to the announcement, Joel’s appointment is expected to propel CircleDNA to the forefront of the global consumer healthtech industry. The company has branched out beyond DNA testing, with plans to collaborate with local healthcare partners to become a comprehensive preventive and personalised healthcare platform, expanding its portfolio to include blood tests, telehealth services, personalised supplements, and online to offline healthcare services. 

Face co-founder and COO Chen Chow Yeoh discusses the future of Fave in Southeast Asia

Prenetics was established in 2014. It became a household name in Asia and the United Kingdom in the fight against COVID-19, processing more than 28 million PCR and at-home test kits. Prenetics was listed on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol “PRE” last year.

CircleDNA is Prenetics’ consumer health division. Thousands of consumers in over 30 countries, including Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, and the Philippines, use CircleDNA every month to gain insights into their health via a simple saliva sample.

Congrats on the new role. What are your plans for the brand in Southeast Asia?

Thank you! The mission here is really about democratising the best science available today to help consumers, like you and me, achieve our personalized health goals. Today the CircleDNA brand is present in over 30 countries. While we started with creating the world’s most comprehensive consumer DNA test, our goal is to have a broader global impact by introducing new and innovative healthcare solutions to reach millions more consumers globally.

We have some major plans in the pipeline for next year, so stay tuned for that!

We also believe in inclusive healthcare and will be teaming up with the movers and shakers of the industry to accelerate preventive healthcare solutions to the many.

What do you plan to bring into the new role from your experience growing Fave?

I’m a strong believer in the importance of preventive healthcare. Today’s health ecosystem is unfortunately more focused on sick care, which is oftentimes too late and very expensive.
So quite excited to apply my knowledge of consumer technology to the preventive healthcare sector. Even though transitioning from fintech to the realm of genetics and health tech is a major change, I’ve been receiving a lot of support and guidance both within the team. Also very happy to have many industry leaders across the world reaching out through LinkedIn to help me adjust to this new mission.

Preventive health sounds interesting but seems to go against natural behaviour which is to take medication when you’re sick. How do you plan on changing consumer behaviour?

Our goal is not to change consumer behaviour, but rather to provide a platform of products & services to consumers who have already adopted this behaviour change – of wanting to take control of their health, which has been on the increase since the pandemic.

For me, it’s very clear that there’s significant work needed to advance healthcare. Today, the current healthcare system focuses on diagnosis and treatment instead of prevention and focuses on patients at high costs, and often fails to address illness in a timely manner.

How large is the market in Southeast Asia and which countries have the most opportunity for the brand?

600 million population, fast-growing affluent middle class who are also health conscious as they want longer, healthier and happier lives for themselves and their families. This tailwind will fuel Prenetics’ offering in this region.

What’s next for CircleDNA?

Preventive and personalised healthcare platform including local partnerships to incorporate a wide spectrum of services; blood tests, telehealth services, personalised supplements, and online to offline healthcare services. We are committed to a diverse, holistic approach to preventive health. Guided by our R&D team and Scientific Advisory Board, we are preparing for exciting product launches over the next 12 months.