This startup brings Southeast Asia’s vacant hospital rooms into the sharing economy

Uber and Airbnb have long been the poster children for the sharing economy. In other realms of society, entrepreneurs are also trying to match demand with untapped assets and services. HD, a startup based out of Bangkok, is applying the economic model to healthcare in Southeast Asia.

HD operates a platform that helps three parties meet: surgeons with private practice, patients looking to have their surgeries done more cheaply, and vacant surgery rooms at hospitals. The model might sound a bit counterintuitive to people in the West, but Southeast Asia’s medical system is built on very different patient-hospital dynamics.

Sheji Ho, co-founder and CEO of HD, conceived the idea when he saw surgeons in Thailand advertising on Facebook to attract private customers. Dual practice is “very common” for doctors in Southeast Asia, observed Ho, who previously co-founded the Southeast Asian e-commerce enabler aCommerce.

“They get the credential from working for top hospitals, but they are paid poorly, so they also work at private ones where they get the money,” he says in an interview.

In Southeast Asia, people go straight to the hospital when they get sick. The problem with public hospitals, Ho reckons, is they have very long queues, so doctors try to lure patients to the private institutions where they work. “Doctors [in the region] are kind of like merchants who operate across different platforms,” he says.

Forty percent of Southeast Asia’s health spending was paid out of pocket in 2018, according to World Health Organization, compared to 29.8% in Europe and 32.4% in the Americas. Since there’s no central platform providing cost transparency, patients often end up paying a steep price.

When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, swathes of surgeon rooms suddenly got freed up as Thailand, a popular destination for medical tourism, lost international patients. The oversupply was exacerbated by the country’s hospital-building spree before the pandemic, Ho noted, as the government bet on an aging population and increased land value.

“Organically, hospitals wanted to use our platforms,” Ho says. And since HD is bringing customers to them, it can bargain for lower room rates. Patients getting surgeries such as thyroid, hemorrhoid, and orthopedic surgery through HD are paying 15-20% less than market prices.

Why not provide a meeting point for all these needs? Hence HD launched its HDcare private-label surgery service two months ago. The platform is now sitting on a supply of over 20 operating rooms across Thailand and Indonesia, according to Ho, with the potential to access more from 1,500 healthcare providers already on its platform, and has over 40 types of surgeries lined up. The plan is to scale the service to 200 surgeries performed per quarter by Q4 2023.

Amazon for health services

HD’s surgery platform is a new addition to its established business, a marketplace for outpatient services. The model has proven successful in the massive healthcare market in neighboring China, where, Alibaba’s domestic archrival, runs a similar e-commerce operation selling third-party healthcare services like vaccinations, checkups, imaging sessions, and minor surgeries.

The absence of primary care in Southeast Asia means people either need to ask their friends for recommendations or do several rounds of hospital hopping before landing the right doctor and treatment.

That’s a contrast to the U.S., where 75% of adults had primary care physicians as of 2015 to treat common conditions and are referred to hospitals only for urgent and specialist treatment.

Like Airbnb, HD began onboarding hospitals and clinics through a lot of heavy lifting, like helping customers set up their product pages. “But that’s also our moat,” says Ho. “SaaS is still too early for Southeast Asia.”

HD takes a cut from transactions and charges a listing fee from healthcare providers, similar to how a conventional e-commerce platform monetizes. It also offers healthcare marketing solutions to providers on its platform, similar to how Amazon Ads and Tmall Ads enable brands to increase their reach and performance.

The liability of platform operators is an ongoing debate in the tech industry, and a business that could influence one’s health seems to make the matter even trickier. As a marketplace platform, HD doesn’t deal with disputes in general; in the beauty space where the experience may be more “subjective”, HD takes an approach similar to that of Amazon whereby it “puts patients first, refunds customers and deals with the providers directly,” says the founder.

“In general, HD prioritizes minimally invasive, short-stay, elective surgeries that have low output variation such as thyroid and hemorrhoid surgery, in addition to outpatient procedures.”

Since its founding four years ago, HD has served around 250,000 patients. It saw a 7x sales growth during the pandemic and aims to keep its growth rate at 2-3x growth in the post-COVID years.

Optimism in recession

While the pandemic is taking a toll on the global economy, Ho is optimistic about his own venture. “Whenever a recession started, we saw some businesses take off. They were leveraging excess supply. Groupon was leveraging the excess supply of restaurants, and for Airbnb, it was vacant homes,” he suggests.

“So, as we enter the recession, there is enough opportunity — hospitals sitting on excess rooms. We have a two to three-year window to rapidly grow that part of the business.”

Despite the encouraging signs of growth, HD’s fundraising was off to a rough start. As the pandemic swept across the world, investors turned to telemedicine startups as the default healthcare solution. Ho disagrees with the presumption.

“Telehealth works well in the Western market. Basically, you talk to the GP [general physician], you get a prescription, and you go to Walgreens to get your antibodies, which need a prescription,” he says.

“But in Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam, you can get that tier of medication at pharmacies [over the counter], removing the need for telehealth.”

Investors are now waking up to the potential of HD, which is enabling offline medical providers with digital platforms rather than competing with them. The startup recently closed a $6 million funding round from Partech Partners, M Venture Partners, AC Ventures, iSeed, and Orvel Ventures. It’s also part of a recent batch accepted into Google for Startups Accelerator’s Southeast Asia program.

This startup brings Southeast Asia’s vacant hospital rooms into the sharing economy by Rita Liao originally published on TechCrunch

AC Ventures reaches first close of a $250M fund for Southeast Asian startups

AC Ventures (ACV), a venture firm focused on early-stage startups in Indonesia and the rest of Southeast Asia, has reached the first close of its fifth investment fund (Fund V). The fund is targeting $250 million and has raised 65% of that capital so far, mostly from limited partners who invested in ACV’s previous funds. Fund V has already made five investments, including SkorLife, IDEAL and Atma.

The last time TechCrunch covered ACV was in December 2021, when it closed its Fund III. (Its fourth fund is focused on Malaysia and run by a separate team).

Founded in 2014, ACV’s portfolio now has over 120 investments in Indonesia and the rest of Southeast Asia. Some noteworthy companies include Xendit, Carsome, Stockbit, Ula, Shipper and Aruna. Its team has grown to 35 people, with most based in Indonesia, but ACV also recently established Singapore and Malaysia offices. Half of ACV’s leadership team are women and across its portfolio that figure is 40%.

ACV recently hired Helen Wong as managing partner. Wong previously worked at GGV and Qiming Ventures and has served on the boards of startups like Tudou and Mobike.

The firm is sector-agnostic, but many of its investments are in fintech, logistics, e-commerce, MSME and consumer technology. Fund V will also focus on new themes including climate tech. The firm’s check size in early-stage companies is typically $2 million, and it reserves a large part of each fund for follow-on investments.

“Broadly speaking, we are investing in the digitization of Indonesia and the Southeast Asia economy,” ACV co-founder and managing partner Adrian Li told TechCrunch. “Last year, Indonesia’s digital GDP was $70 billion and that’s expected to grow to over $350 billion in the next five to six years. Through our experience of investing over past funds, we’ve also developed expertise, particularly around commerce opportunities, fintech and micro- and small enterprises. Each of these thematic areas represent really deep pools of revenue potential and we’re seeing a lot of ways in which digital adoption can truly make things more efficient, cost less and create value for all the stakeholders in these verticals.”

In addition to Southeast Asia, Fund V’s LPs come from North Asia, the United States, the Middle East and Europe. Li said global investors are drawn to Southeast Asia as it continues to show evidence of being a maturing market, with the successful IPOs of unicorns like GoTo and Bukalapak, an increase in later-stage capital and more secondary exits.

ACV managing partners Michael Soerijadji, Helen Wong, Adrian Li and Pandu Sjahrir

ACV managing partners Michael Soerijadji, Helen Wong, Adrian Li and Pandu Sjahrir Image Credits: ACV

With its focus on early-stage companies, ACV is often the first institutional investor in startups.

“Our fund plays on a successful strategy we’ve continued to refine to be early-stage focused,” said Li. “That means backing companies at a point where we can be really valuable in the shaping of a business as they build it, and also at a point where we can be meaningful investors partnered with them. We typically invest in 30 to 35 companies per fund and reserve a deep follow-up ratio, 20-1, to invest in companies that are executing and creating value.”

ACV’s efforts to help founders include several key appointments who will work closely with startups. They are Lauren Blasco as head of ESG, Leighton Cosseboom as head of PR and communications, and Alan Hellawell as a senior advisor and venture partner.

The firm’s value-add includes working with founders to hire key talent and sharing talent operation playbooks. Li said ACV likes to invest early because as teams grow, it can help startups lay down fundamentals for culture, retaining talent and communication. It also helps companies with compliance and governance, like making sure they have functional boards and a good set of advisors.

Another part of its value-creation initiatives are partnerships with conglomerates and business stakeholders in Indonesia that can help startups accelerate the growth of their business. For example, it helps fintech companies work with banks or access capital they can use for lending.

Li said that ACV typically invests in 10 to 12 companies per year across its funds, and that continues despite the global slowdown in venture capital investing. “At times when money is easier, we may try to move a little faster, and at times like this, we may try to move a little slower, but fundamentally what we’re trying to do is underwrite for the right companies, and so we don’t want to be rushed by the timing of how the market is,” he said.

Though valuations across all stages have fallen by about 30% to 40%, Li also sees upsides in the market environment, including in the quality of entrepreneurs.

“What’s great about this type of period is that entrepreneurs are focused much more on quality metrics and product-market fit before starting to scale their businesses,” he said. “I think lats year when capital was easy, probably a number of companies chasing topline growth had scaled prematurely, and that’s never the most efficient use of capital. It’s simply trying to grab market share and get the next round, so I think times like this are good for both entrepreneurs and investors alike.”

AC Ventures reaches first close of a $250M fund for Southeast Asian startups by Catherine Shu originally published on TechCrunch

Indonesia’s Astro raises $60M to work on 15-minute grocery delivery

Indonesia’s sprawling archipelago has long been a headache for logistics companies, but there’s no lack of brave challengers. Jarkata-based Astro, which provides 15-minute grocery delivery, has recently closed a $60 million Series B financing round, lifting its total funding to $90 million since the business launched just nine months ago.

The Series B round was led by Accel, Citius and Tiger Global, with participation from existing investors AC Ventures, Global Founders Capital, Lightspeed and Sequoia Capital India. The company declined to disclose its post-money valuation.

The speed at which Astro is attracting investment goes to show the need for hefty upfront investment in the grocery delivery race, which is about establishing a logistics infrastructure quickly and locking in loyal customers ahead of rivals. Founded by Tokopedia veteran Vincent Tjendra, Astro plans to spend its funding proceeds on user acquisition, product development, and hiring more staff to add to its current team of 200.

As in many countries around the world, on-demand delivery got a boost during the COVID-19 pandemic in Indonesia. But e-grocery penetration in the country remains low and is estimated to be just 0.5% by 2022, compared to China’s 6% and South Korea’s 34% in 2020.

That means there’s a huge opportunity for companies like Astro that are trying to prove the convenience of online grocery ordering over brick-and-mortar visits. The e-grocery delivery market in Indonesia is projected to reach $6 billion by 2025.

Astro offers 15-minute delivery within a range of 2-3km through its network of rented “dark stores,” which are distribution hubs set up for online shopping only. The company has opted for a cash-intensive model, as it owns the entire user journey going from inventory sourcing, supply chain, mid-mile, to last-mile delivery. The benefit of this heavyweight approach is that it gets to monitor the quality of customer experience.

Astro currently operates in around 50 locations across Greater Jakarta, an area with 30 million residents, through a fleet of about 1,000 delivery drivers. Revenues grew more than 10x over the past few months and downloads hit 1 million, the company said.

The startup is competing with incumbents like Sayurbox, HappyFresh, and TaniHub to win over users. Its customers range from working professionals to young parents at home “who seek convenience,” said Tjendra.

Grocery delivery is notoriously cash-burning, but Tjendra reckoned margins will improve as the business scales. The company’s main source of revenue is the gross margin it earned from the goods sold and delivery fees customers pay. A large chunk of the business’s costs comes from delivery, which the founder believed “will come down over time as we deploy for hubs and subsequently reduce the delivery distance areas.”

Daily Crunch: PayPal Ventures leads $50M Series B for Egyptian fintech Paymob

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Monday, May 9, is upon us, and today is a day of browser-cache-powered drama in the form of a Wordle word The New York Times decided was too controversial, but still existed for people who hadn’t refreshed their browser in a while. Find out what the word was, and why there was dramaaaaaaa, in Amanda’s piece. Incidentally, DRAMA would be a great Wordle word, so there’s that. – Christine and Haje

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • An offer they couldn’t refuse: It looks like Egyptian fintech Paymob snagged one of the largest funding deals in the region — a $50 million Series B, with PayPal Ventures and Kora Capital leading — based on its ability to turn cash-loving customers into digital users with its cards and wallets. That subsequently led to 4x monthly volume growth, and it is expected the company’s expansion into Pakistan will yield even better results.
  • Wall Street’s downward spiral continues, but not everyone is feeling it: The stock market was still showing red as we wrote this, so it might be good to hold off on checking your investments for a bit. However, not all is bad in the world of stock performance, and Alex and Ron took a look at four tech companies that actually did OK last week, despite the choppy markets.
  • Hacking your Tesla’s radio: If you are looking to get CarPlay into your Tesla, look no further than one of TechCrunch’s resident tinkerers Matt, who decided to give it a try on his Ford F-150 to show how easy it could be.

Startups and VC

If you’re a startup founder, money – specifically, your own wages – can be a sticky point. You need permission from your board to give yourself a wage bump, but how do you know whether you’re under- or over-paying yourself? We got a hold of a 250-company dataset that sheds some light on that question.

Over on TC+, Alex described the current stock market spiral as “joker detection,” which we are all for. Meanwhile, Connie talked with Sequoia’s Jess Lee to get a deeper understanding of how VC companies think about their deals.

Feed your brain with these tasty morsels:

  • Hug it out with linguistically progressive robots: We’re fans of startups with great names, and the now-valued-at-$2-billion Hugging Face may very well be up there as one of the best. The company is building the “GitHub of machine learning” and just raised $100 million to continue down that path.
  • Workin’ 9 to 5 (Indonesia edition): Atma, an Indonesian startup that wants to make job hunting less painful, raised $5 million in pre-seed funding led by AC Ventures.
  • Workin’ 9 to 5 (Middle East and Africa edition): For the Middle Eastern and North African market, Manara raised $3 million to grow the region’s tech talent pool.
  • So clever you can barely beleaf it: When machines take a closer look at plants, some fun things start to happen. Brightseed’s Forager is a machine-learning platform that identifies and categorizes plant compounds. It has already mapped 2 million, considerably more than is characterized in scientific literature. And it raised $68 million to get deeper into the science.
  • I fought the law and … well, the jury is still out, actually: Swedish startup PocketLaw — a contract automation software-as-a-service legal tech platform that is mainly focused on SMEs — has pocketed $11 million in Series A funding to fuel expansion in Europe.
  • Virtually unstoppable home improvements: South Korean startup Bucketplace, which operates a home decorating and interior app OHouse, is looking to continue capitalizing on the DIY trend, raising $182 million to add some AR to the mix.

A founder’s guide to calculating CAC and LTV the right way

Blue calculator and a graph made from colored arrows

Image Credits: Maryna Terletska (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

How fluent are you when it comes to your key metrics?

Round sizes are shrinking, but investors are raising their expectations. Blair Silverberg, CEO and co-founder of Hum Capital, says founders need to get a firm handle on LTV (lifetime value) and customer acquisition cost (CAC) before they start sending out pitch decks.

“While founders with an eye on high valuations may hesitate to follow a conservative approach, doing so can be pivotal for building trust with investors,” writes Silverberg.

This post identifies several factors that will help calculate LTV/CAC accurately while increasing transparency for potential investors.

“As a former venture capitalist, I always tell founders that the most powerful tool they can employ while fundraising is a data-driven pitch.”

(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

There was much mobility news today: Let’s begin with Lordstown Motors, which reported a $90 million loss (the electric truck maker has yet to produce a vehicle) and offered no word yet on whether a proposed facility acquisition deal with Foxconn will meet the May 14 deadline. Next, Rivian, another public EV truck maker, saw its shares drop on news that Ford was selling some of its shares in the company. Then we have a pair of Uber stories — the first has the rideshare giant opting for arbitration to settle a dispute it has with drivers in Kenya over a reduction of commuter fares. The second is that Uber shareholders were to vote today on a proposal that would open up the company’s lobbying activities. It’s a proposal the Teamsters tried to put forth last year, but didn’t have the votes. Like all this car talk? Kirsten lays it all out nicely for you in her newsletter, The Station.

Are you a fan of the office? No, not the show, the place where you work. Ron spoke to a bunch of tech companies to gauge their feelings on what a possible office-free future might look like. Some shuttered offices early in the pandemic and then brought them back. Others gave up office leases permanently. Others realized you don’t need to be in a cubicle every day. What’s evident is that most companies will have to figure out what the future looks like for them.

Here’s what else happened today:

Indonesia-focused AC Ventures closes oversubscribed $205M third fund

More investor money is flowing into Indonesia’s startup ecosystem. Today, AC Ventures, which focuses early-stage startups in the country, announced it has raise $205 million in committed capital for its oversubscribed Fund II, more than double its original target of $80 million. Investors include World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Disrupt AD, the venture development platform of Abu Dhabi Developmental Holdings. This brings the firm’s total assets under management to about $380 million.

AC Venture’s Fund III has been actively investing since its first close in March 2020, and has now completed 30 out of its 35 targeted investments, and says it is on track to deploy over $100 million by the end of 2021. All of its investments were in pre-Series A stage startups. The firm says many portfolio companies gained traction during the COVID-19 pandemic, with some, like Shipper, Stockbit, Ula, Aruna, Bukuwarung and Colearn, reaching “centaur” status, or a valuation of at least $100 million. AC Ventures also says Fund III is delivering strong early returns, with a MOIC (multiple on invested capital) of 1.94X less than two years after its first close.

Back in October 2020, when TechCrunch covered Fund III’s first close, its target was $80 million. That number increased, until finally reaching more than $200 million. Fund III’s typical check size varies widely. Founder and managing partner Adrian Li told TechCrunch that having a larger fund size gives AC Ventures the flexibility to deploy the right amount of capital based on the stage of a startup, so it doesn’t have to worry about finding co-investors or other srouces of capital. This means that depending traction and sector, Fund III’s first check sizes can range from a few hundred thousand dollars to several million.

AC Ventures' founding team Adrian Li, Pandu Sjahrir and Michael Soerijadji

AC Ventures’ founding team Adrian Li, Pandu Sjahrir and Michael Soerijadji

“I think with the increased traction of the portfolio during COVID and a step up in global interest in Asian companies, startups have raised faster than,” said Li. “The larger fund allows us to make sure we can keep our pro ratas and maintain ownership percentages in the best companies.”

He adds that at the beginning of 2021, it “became clear that technology companies were being relied on more than ever to help people continue their daily lives, whether shopping, paying or even entertainment, and that was quickly reflected in the public markets.” He added, “I think the turning point was probably August or September last year. From then, institutional investors and LPs began to realize that COVID was not going away in the short term. They therefore started looking for companies that were “having huge moments of adoption, new users and new user frequency by existing users, and Indonesia was a stand out.”

AC Ventures two earlier funds returned 2.99X and 2.41X gross MOICs, and they include unicorns Xendit and Carsome. The firm’s portfolio companies have also raised a total of more than $500 million in follow-on funding from investors like Sequoia, Tiger Global and Prosus.

The firm started investing in 2014 as Convergence Ventures and in 2019, became AC Ventures through a merger with Agaeti Venture Capital. It now has a total of more than 100 portfolio companies, which AC Ventures says makes it one of the largest Indonesian-focused early-stage venture capital firms.

Many of AC Ventures’ partners, including Li, are former entrepreneurs who have worked in markets like the United States, China and Indonesia. As a result, he says they are uniquely positioned to work closely with startups from early stage to exits. For example, AC Ventures helps its portfolio companies hire key talent, introduces them to the right business partnerships to scale and helps with downstream financing. Having a larger fund gives AC Ventures more ability to invest in wha tthey call their value creation team, or a group of experts in areas like data operations and growth and scaling.

“Building a specific team whose sole objective is to increase the value of our portfolio companies through their advice and interactions is someting that’s really excites us. With a small fund, it’s hard to build an operational team to help portfolio companies, but now with the larger fund size, we’re able to invest into that,” said Li.

Since it works with very early-stage startups, AC Ventures has developed specific strategies for deciding on investments. For example, it makes decisions using a comparable market and business model analysis to understand new sectors.

Li says AC Ventures invests in companies with great teams and strong ideas, or companies that have bootstrapped their way to having customers and revenue. “There isn’t a hard and fast rule, but what we want to do is come into companies as early as possible, where we have built a conviction around the team and market so we can be a longstanding partner in them as they grow.”

At early stages, “there’s not much data you can underwrite on,” he added. “Fortunately, investing in Indonesia, we have the benefit of hindsight for models that have worked around the world and the ability to analyze where certain markets are in Indonesia, relative to the total country and the economic development of the national. We can do a lot of market and business model research and so on, all up front. We can see if this model looks right, if it’s got big potential, if it’s a business model that’s worked well in markets like China or India.”

AC Ventures has also done quantitative and qualitative analysis of its most successful portfolio companies, and honed in on a set of signals that identify the founding teams with the most potential. Li said this gives the firm a more objective way of ranking early-stage startups.

For example, it’s important for at least one of the founders, usually the CEO, to have the strong capability to convey their vision to relevant stakeholders, constituents or first users and business partnerships. When AC Ventures asks founders about their business, they also need to be able to go into detail, including all their numbers, what works and what doesn’t. “Running a business, there are all these devils in the details that are very necessary, so you know what experiments to run, how to ititerate your product. There’s a lot to take in at the early stage of a business, but we find it critical that the founding team is really on top of that.”

In statement about IFC’s investment in AC Ventures’ Fund III, Azam Khan, IFC country manager for Indonesia, Malaysia and Timor-Leste said, “IFC’s partnership with AC Ventures underscores our long-term commitment to Indonesia’s economic development and digital transformation.”

AC Ventures announces the first close of its $80 million fund for Indonesian startups

As one of the world’s most populated countries, with a fast-growing internet economy, Indonesia offers plenty of opportunity for startups. AC Ventures wants to tap into that with its $80 million ACV Capital III L.P. fund. The firm announced the first close of the fund today, with $56 million already committed.

The capital will be invested into 30 Indonesian startups over the next three years, with first checks of up to $3 million going to seed to Series A-stage companies.

Based in Jakarta with a team of twelve people, ACV is a strategic alliance between AC Ventures and Indies Capital. ACV’s founding partners are Adrian Li and Michael Soerijadji, both founders and managing partners at AC Ventures, and Indies Capital managing partner Pandu Sjahrir. Sjahrir is also on the board of two Indonesian unicorns, Gojek and Sea.

The alliance has already made investments in nine startups: Shipper, Kargo, Stockbit, Bukuwarung, ESB, Co-Learn, KitaBeli, Aruna and Soul Parking. It will focus on e-commerce, financial tech, startups that serve MSMEs (or micro, small and medium-sized enterprises) and digital media-enabled services, which Li told TechCrunch could encompass sectors like education and healthcare, in addition to entertainment.

ACV also plans to work closely with the companies it invests in, guiding them through business development, key executive hires and later rounds of funding. Its also launched programs like AC Academy to coach founders on skills like growth hacking and fundraising.

Internet penetration and online payments have grown a lot over the past five years, but e-commerce still accounts for a tiny fraction of Indonesia’s overall retail market. This gives startups plenty of room to innovate. For example, logistics is very fragmented in Indonesia, because it has 600 inhabited islands. Shipper, another ACV investment, offers a platform to help sellers manage multiple shipments through different providers at once.

Fundraising for ACV Capital III began before the COVID-19 pandemic and despite the crisis’ economic toll, Li said that in countries like Indonesia, it may speed up the adoption of many kinds of technology. For example, BukuWarung, which focuses on digitizing operations for neighborhood shops and other small businesses, recently launched digital payments in response to demand for online orders and contactless payments. Another ACV portfolio company, ESB, is doing the same thing for restaurants, and Li said interest in its services increased as food and beverage businesses turned to online orders and deliveries during social distancing measures.

“We’re really seeing some great opportunities in Indonesia, and we’re seeing more interest globally going into startups in Indonesia,” said Li. “This is the world’s fourth most populous country and there are so many products and services which can be delivered better and more efficiently through technology.”