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Indonesian startup Newman’s uses online medicine to tackle sensitive health issues

An Indonesian startup called Newman’s is using telemedicine to help Indonesian patients get care for stigmatized health issues. Part of Y Combinator’s winter 2020 batch, the startup launched last month with prescription hair loss treatments and plans to expand into other verticals, including erectile dysfunction and smoking cessation.

Newman’s was founded by Elsen Wiraatmadja, Alfred Ali and Anthony Suryaputra and motivated partly by their own experiences with hair loss in their twenties.

Newman's Y Combinator Team Photo

Newman’s Y Combinator team photo

“It was a rather depressing period. It affected our confidence, our jobs and we didn’t know who to talk to and what to do,” says Suryaputra. “Even going to the doctor for treatment was an awkward process and it was expensive to pay for medications. We talked to other men and they faced the same issues.”

Hair loss treatments with minoxidil and finasteride, the two most common clinically-proven ingredients, require a prescription in Indonesia and it can be difficult to book consultations since the country has a relatively low number of physicians. The price of a doctor’s visit, which the founding team says is usually about US $30, and treatments, is also prohibitive for many people.

Newman’s works directly with manufacturers for its hair loss products, which contain minoxidil and finasteride. By cutting out distribution and retail middlemen, their margins are higher, and they use some of that revenue to pay doctors on the platform. This enables them to make consultations free and also offer a 100% money-back guarantee to encourage patients to use products for at least three months, since it usually takes that amount of time to see results.

For doctors, online consultations through Newman’s platform saves time and allows them to see more patients. Before booking an appointment for hair loss, Newman’s users complete a questionnaire and upload photos, which help their doctors determine treatments and shorten consultation times for hair loss to as little as five minutes. There are currently about 15 doctors on Newman’s (with plans to add more from a waiting list) who see about 10 to 15 patients through the platform per day.

The startup will launch in other men’s health verticals before expanding into women’s health, with an emphasis on issues that patients are often reluctant to seek help for because of stigma or cost.

“Right now we’re focused on hair loss because it personally affects us and a lot of other men,” says Suryaputra. “With other verticals, like erectile dysfunction, there are the same dynamics. It’s embarrassing and in Southeast Asia, the taboo around erectile dysfunction is a lot stronger than in the United States.”

Newman’s will continue to focus on Indonesia, where data from the World Bank shows there are much less physicians per 1,000 patients than in the United States or nearby countries like Thailand and Singapore.

“We cannot create more doctors, so we have to make seeing patients more efficient for them,” says Suryaputra.

Indonesian entertainment development company Visinema raises $3.25 million Series A

Jakarta-based entertainment company Visinema will build its animation business and expand into more Southeast Asian markets after raising a $3.25 million Series A led by Intudo Ventures. Returning investors GDP Ventures and Ancora Capital also participated.

Founded in June 2008 by CEO Angga Dwimas Sasongko, a director and producer, Visinema produces TV shows, feature films, commercials and other content. Its end-to-end operations allows it to control almost every part of content creation, from concept to distribution and monetization. Visinema’s clients have included Unilever, Toyota and Honda. Along with a seed round from GDP Ventures, its Series A brings Visinema’s total raised so far to $5.25 million.

The company will use its funding to grow its animation production by partnering with or acquiring Indonesian animation studios, with plans to release its first animated feature film this year. Called Nussa, the movie began as characters developed for YouTube. Its other segments include Visinema Pictures for theatrical releases, Visinema Content which creates shows for streaming platforms like Netflix, iFlix and Gojek’s GoPlay, and Visinema Campus, its talent development program.

Chief of business development and partnerships Ajeng Parameswari says Indonesia’s film industry contributed about $69 billion to its economy in 2015, with 7% year-over-year growth, and locally-produced movies account for about 40% of movies circulating in country, a number expected to increase 55% this year.

This gives Visinema room to grow in terms of both theatrical releases and content created for streaming platforms, including international services that are launching in Indonesia like Amazon Prime, Disney+ and Catchplay.

“The landscape is changing fast, as the Indonesian government eases restriction on outside investment in the movie business,” she told TechCrunch.

In a press statement, Intudo Ventures founding partner Patrick Yip said “Indonesia’s domestic film industry has experienced rapid growth over the past few years, both in terms of feature-length films and unique content formats, and there continues to be significant demand for high-grade local content. With in-house produced Hollywood-caliber content, we believe that Visinema is well-positioned to tell more Indonesian stories to audiences both domestically and around the world.”

Google Cloud opens its Seoul region

Google Cloud today announced that its new Seoul region, its first in Korea, is now open for business. The region, which it first talked about last April, will feature three availability zones and support for virtually all of Google Cloud’s standard service, ranging from Compute Engine to BigQuery, Bigtable and Cloud Spanner.

With this, Google Cloud now has a presence in 16 countries and offers 21 regions with a total of 64 zones. The Seoul region (with the memorable name of asia-northeast3) will complement Google’s other regions in the area, including two in Japan, as well as regions in Hong Kong and Taiwan, but the obvious focus here is on serving Korean companies with low-latency access to its cloud services.

“As South Korea’s largest gaming company, we’re partnering with Google Cloud for game development, infrastructure management, and to infuse our operations with business intelligence,” said Chang-Whan Sul, the CTO of Netmarble. “Google Cloud’s region in Seoul reinforces its commitment to the region and we welcome the opportunities this initiative offers our business.”

Over the course of this year, Google Cloud also plans to open more zones and regions in Salt Lake City, Las Vegas and Jakarta, Indonesia.