Bringing Home Health Care to China's Aging Population

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HomePro teammembers pose with Professor Waverly Deutsch after winning 2018 GNVC

At the beginning of the Global New Venture Challenge (GNVC) finals held in Chicago this March, Professor Waverly Deutsch introduced herself by stating, “I’m the professor who teaches this class, but this is way more than a class. This is a full scale acceleration of really intricate businesses around the world.”

HomePro, one of two winners of this year’s GNVC and the program’s first Hong Kong campus winner, is exactly that. An intricate healthcare business that plans to fill an urgent need for home healthcare in China. “The idea came about because of a problem that even students at Booth encounter,” said Dr. James Mok, a 2018 graduate of the Executive MBA Program in Chicago. “They’ll be on a business trip or they’ll be away from home and their parents become ill, but there’s no one to take care of them.” Because of previous policies like China’s One Child, there aren’t as many children to take care of their aging parents. Many young working professionals are in need of a reliable solution for this societal problem.

HomePro seeks to address this issue by identifying American home health best practices and bringing them to China. “Home health in the United States is a mature business,” said Mok. “By bringing an operating formula that we know works in America, and medical routines that we know work in American healthcare, we’re going to effectively provide care in a way that will earn the trust of our patients in China."

Mok, who is an Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Chicago, decided to pursue an Executive MBA in order to play a larger role in the decision-making processes at his work. “I realized that to have a part in the decision-making, you have to understand the bigger picture and that meant understanding business.” With this aim in mind, he didn’t intend to participate in entrepreneurship at Booth. “I was familiar with the GNVC,” he said, “but I really didn’t consider myself an entrepreneur.” Fortunately, his classmate Steve Lin approached him during the summer before their final year in the program and shared his vision of solving China’s parent healthcare crisis. The idea resonated well with Mok and he decided to commit to the team as their Chief Medical Officer.

During the months between submitting their initial proposals and pitching before a panel of judges in Chicago, HomePro had to grow their idea from a theory into a viable and scalable business with a model their clients could trust. Mok described the GNVC process as intense but critical to their business’s development. “Somehow GNVC lets us find the answers on our own so that it’s something that we internalize and believe in,” He said. “To get us there they provide the right mentorship and the tools, as well as a timeline that forces us to make things happen.” The fact that his teammates were based in the United States, China, and Hong Kong and each represented unique industry backgrounds placed HomePro in a position to be competitive not only in the GNVC but also in their market. “From the beginning we had it right,” he said. “This was a team that was carefully thought out. Every person on the team was critical.”

Their impressive roster included Hong Kong campus classmates Wang Xu, Lily Hu, and Mimzy Si, who brought a wealth of knowledge in operations, investment, and the local market in Shanghai.  Through GNVC’s structure and tools, the team exercised the knowledge of their shared Booth education to find consensus, make it to the finals, and secure their place as the first Asia-based team to win. “I think [our win] is a real testament to the success of Booth’s international curriculum.” Mok said. “This would not have been possible with a purely American-based or China-based team.”

After securing their win in Chicago, HomePro is taking steps to launch their business in China. The company is registered and they have begun the hiring process for their first nurses and have identified initial patients. Their focus in the beginning is to deliver the minimal viable product in order to establish trust and ensure sustainability in growth. After surveying prospective clients, they are confident their business is going to get a lot of demand driven by the trust in their American model. “This is not a small idea business.” Mok said. “This is something where we really want to improve people’s lives on a big scale.” And his final thoughts on the GNVC? “I would recommend the GNVC. I think it’s a way to combine all of the knowledge you gain throughout the program and apply it in a real project that gets refined in many steps along the way.”

Update: Mindful Urgent Care, also profiled on this blog, was awarded first place alongside HomePro at the GNVC finals in Chicago. Read more about Mindful Urgent Care >>