Interviewing entrepreneurs in China: A vision-driven startup for senior care in China

China Paradigm interviewed Charles Bark, the co-founder of HiNounou, an intelligent data platform for health care in China, to learn how China’s aging population opens business opportunities for the senior care in China and other useful tips for entrepreneurs.

Charles Bark, a serial entrepreneur in China, the founder & CEO of HiNounou

Charles Bark received his Executive Master Degree in Consulting and Coaching for Change from the joint program of HEC Paris and Oxford University in 2004. During this time, he also co-founded The Change Leaders, a global network of professionals to help organizations positively address the human side of change.

After graduation, in 2005, Charles founded ChinPass, a leading Chinese E-learning platform in Shanghai and has taken the role of CEO for more than 11 years. In 2013, experiencing the problem of senior care in China himself, Charles was inspired to establish a digital platform for healthcare in China, HiNounou, to help the country better tackle the issues coming up with China’s aging population.

Currently, Charles is also a lecturer in innovation and entrepreneurship in China at EMBA Zhejiang University and a member of the Columbia University Talent Development Advisory Board.

senior care in China
[Charles Bark, the founder of HiNounou, data-driven biotech in China for Chinese elderly care]

HiNounou: The story behind a platform-based solution for senior care in China

In 2013, Charles received a call from his older brother, saying that his mother was sent to the hospital. However, because she lives far away from Shanghai, where Charles currently lives, he was unable to take care of her at that time. After going through this painful experience and realizing the existing issues of China’s aging population, Charles decided to create a digital platform that provides professional senior care in China.

Chinese elderly care
[HiNounou, connected and data-driven biotech in China]

The HiNounou’s Home Wellness Kit includes a smartphone tailor-made for senior care, a DNA test box, a fingertip oximeter, a connected scale, and senior-dedicated insurance services. The kit provides holistic solutions for senior care in China with the mission to empower China’s aging population.

“The main vision of HiNounou is to help seniors not only live longer, but also live healthier and happier at home, and to bring the peace of mind to their children who live far away from them,” said Charles.

As the third generation working in healthcare in China, in order to tackle the huge shortage of senior professional care in China, Charles strives to combine the Western medical methodology that is more treatment-based, with the Chinese traditional medicine, which is more oriented in prevention.

“We believe that it should not be a black and white solution. We are using a Yin and Yang between these two worlds, instead of getting opposition,” said Charles.

China’s aging population brings new business opportunities

According to China’s Office of National Working Commission, a third of the country’s population will be over 60 by 2050, up from the current level of 17%. Charles understands clearly that China’s aging population will bring numerous societal issues. Worsened by the trend of urban migration and immature senior care in China, one of the biggest problem is how to take care of those “empty-nest seniors.”

“Healthcare in China was only addressing a situation when it’s already too late. We cannot wait until seniors have an issue,” said Charles, “Therefore, we use more digitalization to cope with the shortage of professional human providers of senior care in China, with robotics and A.I.”

Nowadays, HiNounou has successfully established partnerships with a couple of prestigious game players in senior care in China, including AXA Partners Asia, BAYER, Ping An Insurance, etc. To find partners for his startup in China, Charles always prioritizes the corporate social responsibility aspect.

“Those people are already oriented in helping the world in a way. My dream is aligned in some way with what they are doing,” said Charles, “And the best way to prepare for the future is to do it now.”

Effective tips for brand marketing in China

Like any other entrepreneurs in China, how to penetrate on the right segment and get partners for his startup in China is one of the biggest challenges Charles is facing. According to him, the most important thing is to define the right strategy for brand marketing in China with a clear value proposition. To identify the core benefits that HiNounou could bring to the partners for a startup in China, Charles has invested a lot on the trials of prototypes.

After realizing that companion service robotics is too costly, Charles immediately turned to the concept of assembling different biotech in China into a Home Wellness Kit, which was later proven to be a success.

“For me, there is no failure if there is learning at the end,” Charles commented on his first experience of failure.

With a clearly-defined vision in mind, Charles started to invest in brand marketing in China in order to gain more attraction and money from the market of senior care in China. According to Charles, the two key things to get partners for his startup in China is to attend the contests organized by big corporates in healthcare and leveraging his personal relationships with other entrepreneurs.

“Through this ecosystem of innovation, we have opened the right door to meet those game changers in senior care in China,” said Charles, “and most importantly, share our dream.”


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