Defining and executing growth strategies in Healthcare

Julien de Salaberry, CEO & Founder, Galen Growth Asia

A believer that democratising healthcare through the harnessing of new technology solutions and innovative business models will transform the standard of care, Julien in his spare time, either grabs his camera to capture the rich culture and history of this region or his running shoes when he can escape the office. Born in the UK, half Canadian/British, lived and worked in many different countries around the world, he has spent the last 15+ years in Asia Pacific. He experienced first-hand the richness, promise and challenges of the region and been living in Singapore for the past 10 years.

An Engineer from university in the UK, he spent a few years in the military before heading off to study for an MBA. On completion, Julien joined Lilly, a large US pharmaceutical company, where he started his journey in healthcare. He then spent many years working in various parts of the world which helped him understand the fundamental differences in the delivery of healthcare. To date, whether in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries, or as an advisor or banker to the sector, he has primarily focused on defining and executing growth strategies in the healthcare sector.

In mid 2012, Julien established his own venture focused on early stage investment in HealthTech where he witnessed first-hand the ecosystem blossom to a vibrant sector with over US$2.6B on venture capital invested in HealthTech in the region in 2017.

In late 2015, he co-founded Galen Growth Asia with four other HealthTech (aka digital health) innovators, including three HealthTech venture CEOs. Since then, they have established themselves as the leading authority on HealthTech in the region. ABT captures some interesting insights from his journey in the interview below.

Where do you usually find inspiration from?
Many sources inspire me but, ultimately, I find inspiration and energy from fellow HealthTech innovators. Their tireless thirst to transform healthcare, their passion, their problem-solving abilities are always fascinating and full of insight.

What excites you most about your Industry
Just as Industry 4.0 is impacting all sectors of industry, healthcare is also being transformed by global rapid technological changes. After many years of virtually incremental innovation, we are truly at an inflexion point where it is not unrealistic to think of cancer being curable, body parts being printed and individuals self-diagnosing diseases. This convergence of healthcare and technology is creating an unprecedented opportunity to solve Asia health system’s inefficiencies and improve the lives of over 3B people.

What is the biggest that interests you about a startup?
I will primarily look at a startup through the lens of an investors. So, I will focus on what problem it is attempting to solve, the quality of the team and what it has proven i.e. data/facts.

What is your vision for Galen Growth Asia in the future?
Galen Growth Asia is and will be the go-to Asia HealthTech ecosystem builder. Our unique Asia-wide HealthTech community and our first-of-a-kind Asia HealthTech analytics platform are some of our innovative building blocks which we have built for HealthTech innovators to enable them to disrupt and solve the region’s healthcare system pain points.

We also actively connect startup entrepreneurs with corporates, investors, and clinicians culminating each year with our annual Asia HealthTech Summit

What’s your proudest Achievement so far?
Taking the bold step in 2012 of diving headfirst into entrepreneurship to establish my own venture. It is still early days yet but there is definitely a huge sense of achievement in creating a business relevant to the ecosystem and making it happen.

How would you define success for a startup?
Proving that customers exist who will pay for the solution provided. Until then, it remains a venture with an idea!

What Advice do you have for other aspiring Entrepreneurs?
I will tend to offer advice to fellow entrepreneurs through my investor eye. My one single most prominent counsel revolves around execution. It is far more important to deliver, to prove that there is monetisable business model and solution than to have conjured up a brilliant idea. Build it and they shall come is not a strategy for success!

It comes right back to our ethos at Galen Growth Asia that we believe that all HealthTech innovators should be focused on solving a pain point and not trying to find a problem for a sexy technology!