[dropcap size=small]T[/dropcap]o prepare herself for the day, Rosaline Koo turns to the pool. Swimming helps to clear her head, says the chief executive officer of CXA Group. “I swim five to seven days a week for at least 40 minutes to an hour. It is very relaxing. I work through issues in my mind.”

For help in monitoring her stress levels – not to mention overall organisation of her life – she’s got the CXA app, the raison d’etre of her company. “I use the app to track my steps, take my pulse, and log my food and caffeine intake. I use it when I have to see the doctor (it’s also the company’s medical card) and, occasionally, when I don’t feel like swimming, I look for classes like yoga, or I book time with a chiropractor for my back. I also get my blood test results on it,” she says.

High-Flying Personality

To say stress is part and parcel of Koo’s life is an understatement. Her rise from the ghetto of Los Angeles, a bullied Chinese kid in an all-black neighbourhood, is well-documented. She began working at just nine years old and, by the time she finished University of California with a degree in cybernetics, she had been through several leadership positions. Since her graduation from Columbia Business School in 1998, she has occupied executive roles in large corporations and multi-nationals such as insurance firm ACE (now, Chubb) and employee-benefits consultant Mercer Marsh Benefits. She also founded two start-ups in between her corporate roles, when she came to Asia as part of the dotcom boom.

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It was at Mercer that Koo became obsessed with the concept behind CXA. “In 2008, I proposed a tech-platform that could study employees’ medical and lifestyle data and deliver solutions for early detection and prevention of diseases,” she says. She asked for $10 million to build it but was turned down.

Undeterred, Koo started CXA from her bedroom in 2013, when she was 51 years old. Her experience building tech products during her time at Bankers Trust Company in New York, as well as her two start-ups 2bsure.com and Netcel360, ensured the company had solid foundations.

CXA now has about 760,000 users in over 20 countries, with Fortune 100 companies among its 500 clients. A fresh fund injection to the tune of US$25 million (S$34 million) will allow the company to scale exponentially. The new investors, which include HSBC, SingTel Innov8, Telkom Indonesia MDI Ventures, Sumitomo Corporation Equity Asia, Muang Thai Fuchsia Ventures and others, will also be strategic partners of the group.

They will package the platform as their own apps – powered by CXA – to their enterprise customers. Through these white-label deals, CXA will expand throughout Asia, then Europe and the Americas.

“CXA is a one-stop platform for the user’s health, wellness and wealth planning.”


How It Works

“Everybody talks about prevention over treatment, but we made it real,” says Koo. Unlike the traditional one-size-fits-all insurance benefit for employees, the app uses detailed questionnaires and health screens to let users choose how they spend their benefit allotment.

“Employees can shift benefit money into early cancer detection, into risk assessments of chronic diseases so they can adopt a healthy lifestyle before it’s too late,” Koo explains. The app lets users channel their money by linking them to weight management and nutrition experts, and by helping their stress and sleep so they don’t contract chronic diseases.

For example, given a $2,000 allotment, a young, healthy employee with no dependents can choose a cheaper insurance with less coverage and spend the balance on a gym membership. “Users get their health reports, book classes, seek traditional Chinese medicine treatment, buy vitamins and health supplements, right on the app,” shares Koo.

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Users’ details are also captured through the app. “We know when a user gets married, because we have to cover the spouse,” says Koo. “In Asia, if you want to get married, you need to buy a house – and you’ll need a home loan or an auto-loan or insurance.”

“Loans can be offered by our banking partners through our app. By integrating the clinics, the specialists, the pharmacists, the teledoc, etc, we take out the middlemen. Without them, the banks have a new network. I am that network,” says Koo. “It is a one-stop platform for the user’s health, wellness and wealth planning.”

More amazingly, these services are offered at no additional cost. “We use the company’s existing budget, not new money to do this,” says Koo.

Walking The Talk

But healthy living doesn’t just happen through the app, not at a company that promotes it as a product. “As part of our corporate wellness programme, our teams take part in a 10-week challenge,” says Koo. Staff organise their own exercise programmes while the company puts together talks on mindfulness and invites nutritionists to speak on diets.

“In our 2018 challenge, we lost about 300kg collectively, as well as huge numbers of inches off our waists. We try to integrate these challenges and our vendors into our lives, and our staff like it. We make [the pursuit of health] really fun.”

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