Charles Bark – HiNounou

Spøtlight : 6 min read
Wellness and Intelligent Data Platform

This week we catch up with HiNounou’s founder and CEO Charles Bark. Charles, a serial entrepreneur, launched HiNounou in 2016. 

HiNounou, a Connected Wellness and Intelligent Data Platform company, is on a mission to empower seniors to live longer, healthier and happier, at home and bring peace of mind to their children who live far away from their parents. 

Hi there, can you tell us about yourself and what your company does?

I am Charles Bark, founder and CEO of HiNounou. I am a serial entrepreneur living in China since 2006. After 12 years combined R&D in 4 countries (US, Canada, France, China), I founded HiNounou in 2016. HiNounou is a Connected Wellness & Intelligent Data Platform company on a mission to help empower the world’s Seniors to live longer, healthier and happier, at home, and give peace of mind to their families.

Where did the idea for HiNounou, a Connected Wellness and Intelligent Data Platform company, come from? What makes it unique?

The idea of HiNounou is born from my own pain. My mother, who is a retired doctor, currently lives on her own, in Korea, where she grew up. One day in 2013, during a telephone conversation, I asked her how she was feeling. As usual, she replied, “I’m fine, don’t worry about me.” A few days later, however, my brother rang to inform me that our mother had suffered a fall and had to be taken to the hospital. I was in shock and started wondering what the next call would bring, what if it it’s too late and nothing can be done? Looking around me in China, I started realising that I’m not alone in this situation. Nearly half of Shanghai and Beijing’s populations are senior citizens. 

What makes HiNounou unique is our holistic solution combing DNA testing, Medical devices monitoring, 7/24 telemedicine and insurance. On the current market, you may find competitors in each vertical, but we have not seen any key competitor who consolidates all these three verticals and creates a holistic ecosystem dedicated to seniors. Powered by our A-class partners like AXA, PingAn, Pelion, Plug and Play, etc, we offer a comprehensive value proposition to improve the lives of the elderly at home and their children living far away from them.

What do you see as the most important qualities in a company’s team?

HiNounou’s current achievements owe to our dream team. I particularly appreciate two qualities in a team: team spirit and entrepreneurship mindset. 

Team spirit: only if everyone is driven by the same dream can they unite together to make the dream come true. A strong team spirit will help to exert everyone’s full potential to contribute to the success of the company.

Entrepreneurship mindset: in a startup, it’s extremely important that everyone is self-motivated and proactive. I always encourage my team members to take their initiatives and be fully responsible for their own projects, this has dramatically boosted the creativity and efficiency of the whole team.

When weighing up a venture’s capabilities, we look at 3 key areas – People, Product, and Potential. You’ve already given us details on the second, but what would you say makes your team equipped to take on the healthcare space, and how would you measure your products’ potential?

I am the third generation in healthcare in my family. My mother worked as a doctor in her whole life, my grandpa had the biggest pharma in Pusan of South Korea. Our core team expertise is validated by 60 years of combined professional experience in the Western and Asian countries. 

We also have a wonderful group of advisors who are rich in diversity in terms of expertise and cultural background spanning from former Dean of Oxford University, and a worldwide Innovation Head of AXA-NEXT, a lawyer from most reputable law firm Baker McKenzie, a banker from world leader BNPParibas, what’s more, Medical and AI experts.

However, in my opinion, experience is not the most important thing in a team. Our team catalyst is our DREAM to be a World Game Changer in Helping Seniors to Live Longer, Healthier, and Happier at home and bring Peace of Mind to their children who live far away from them. HiNounou’s solution has an enormous potential seeing the ageing population tsunami worldwide.

According to the UN’s World Population Prospects, the number of older persons, those aged 60 years or over, is expected to more than double by 2050. Our solution is specialised in Senior Home Care, which is the dominant trend in addressing the silver challenge. Nowadays, we have already got significant traction on the markets of APAC and Europe, our next year’s order is measured at hundreds of thousands of wellness kits.

Since being founded, you’ve secured partnerships with a series of respected global insurance players such as AXA and Ping An. Your latest partnership was with billion-dollar healthcare company, Pelion. Can you tell me more about this pilot and if you have any more planned for 2019?

Our partnership with Pelion is one of our most promising deal flows. Pelion group plan to distribute our HiNounou Wellness Kits in 10,000 pharmacies including the biggest healthcare e-commerce marketplace in Poland. They will also add value to our wellness kit in adding some of their healthcare services and nutri-health complements to meet the local market needs by seniors and their families.

“HiNounou is a Connected Wellness & Intelligent Data Platform company on a mission to help empower the world’s Seniors to live longer, healthier and happier, at home, and give peace of mind to their families.”

Charles Bark

There’s little public information available about HiNounou’s investment. Do you have plans to raise a funding round this year? And, if so, what would you use the fresh financing for?

Yes. We have raised 2 pre-A rounds fund that gave us a market cap of USD$25M after the 2nd round.

We are planning to raise our A round funding via IEO (Initial Exchange Offering) with our Blockchain utility tokens. We received some propositions from traditional VCs including a major one in Silicon Valley. We are looking for Strategic Investors who will invest their “smart” money to scale up and speed-up our Home senior care market share in the world. This financing will be mainly used for two purposes: go global, expand HiNounou’s market to more countries; invest in the R&D of our AI companion robot.

Is there another venture within China’s insurance ecosystem which inspires you? Why?

I had a privilege to meet Mr Frank Devisgnes in 2016 in Shanghai. He has a brilliant experience in Fintech as Game Changer in Big Corporates such BNP Parisbas and AXA Group as well as Entrepreneurship. He founded the AXA Labs Asia in Shanghai from scratch. He understood our pain to connect and deliver tangible deal flows with big corporates. As an Agent of Change, he did not connect us only within AXA Group entities located in Asia and in Europe, but also become one of our Board Advisors to help us to grow and increase our InsurTech value proposition as well as our Blockchain utility token economics. 

I believe in Yin/Yang partnership between Innovative Startups/Big Corporates and Yin/Yang Leadership between Entrepreneur and Humanistic Leaders of big corporates to be a World Game Changer. Our challenge is to find the right equilibrium and the right timing to go to market and get the first mover advantage.

I’m very grateful that in our HiNounou entrepreneurship journey in the world, we were honored and privileged to receive fantastic supports of Humanistic leaders of industries such as AXA, PingAn, Bayer, ZTE, Aden, Pelion Group, Sodexo, PlugAndPlay, DIA, Insurtech Munich, our French Governement agencies such as Business France, CNRS, Inserm and wonderful Associations such as French Healthcare Alliance, French Tech and our Alumnus such as HEC, Oxford-Cambridge, UTSEUS, INSEAD, Polytechnics, MBA-DMB, ESSCA, EDNA.

Solving this Silver Tsunami Bombing who is threatening the social and economic stability of most of Western and Asian countries required a smart group dynamic between Startups, Big Corporates, Academia and Governments institutions (Public-Private-Partnership). We are happy that after combined 12Y of R&D in 4 countries, we were able to set up an innovative ecosystem where those players can connect and where each of them can bring their value proposition centric to the wellness of seniors and families.

Could you give one piece of advice for aspiring startups looking to disrupt the insurance industry?

For all startup fellows who want to work with big corporates such as Insurance industry where decision making process is long-term, I strongly recommend you to propose an Alpha Consulting Offer after your first interesting meetup.

Big firms are usually slow when they establish new cooperation with startups. A paid Alpha POC consulting proposal will not only push them to take next steps more quickly, but will also help innovative startups to know which companies are ready to jump in the innovation transformation process and which ones are just doing their “IP shopping”.

What do you see as being the most disruptive technology in the next 3-5 years?

Today we live longer but are lonely. Besides professional senior caregivers are in shortage in all super aged countries like all Europe, US and almost all North Asia. Most disruptive technologies will be fusioning Bio-Health-Insur{TECH} and Robotics with AI algorithm to prevent and predict Cancer and Chronic diseases at most earliest stage than in 2019. Service Companion robotics based on 5G with faster speed and bigger bandwidth will be helpful for video telemedicine assistance with nurses and doctors. Meanwhile, diagnosis and insurance underwriting will be augmented with AI algorithm based on cross-border data collected at home such as food intake traceability, fitness and sleeping data. Customised assistance powered by AI multilingual speech recognition using smarter Natural Language Processing Engine will help seniors to combat loneliness and get on-time life assistance 24/7 wherever you are in the world.

Smart Health IoTs will be widely adopted to collect more data at home. New gamified rewards and incentives based on blockchain utility tokens and digital multi-currencies wallets will be part of daily life of seniors to empower them to stay healthier.

If you’d like to learn more about HiNounou – a Connected Wellness and Intelligent Data Platform company, click here.