Digital Health Interviews: Azran Osman-Rani - image

Preventive Care Startups Are Already Here. Digital Health Interviews: Azran Osman-Rani

It’s a new episode of Digital Health Interviews, and today a well-known and respected venture founder, speaker, and author Azran Osman-Rani shares his breakthrough story with us about how to build disruptive businesses that challenge the status quo.


Azran Osman-Rani: Co-Founder and CEO of Naluri. He held leadership roles at some of the Asian most prominent companies, including iflix Malaysia, AirAsia X, Astro All Asia Networks, Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange, and McKinsey & Company. Author of 30 Days and 30 Years: The Sprint and Marathon of Breakthrough Performance, he also mentors high-growth companies, invests in technology start-ups, as well as competes in Ironman triathlons.

Azran Osman-Rani is a serial entrepreneur and a strong believer in holistic healthcare. A few years back he co-founded Naluri — a digital health solution taking into account mind, body, and lifestyle factors to address chronic physical and mental health conditions, and act to prevent them.

Naluri is Azran’s first incursion into health and well-being, but certainly not his first experience to democratize access to services long-denied to the mass market. Azran founded the low-cost airline AirAsia X and took the company to IPO six years later. He also launched iflix, at the time dubbed “the Netflix of Southeast Asia,” specifically intended to catch audiences for whom the global streaming platform was too expensive and unreachable. Although those are totally different industries, our guest asserts they answer the same quest: “The industry is just one lens of looking at things. I am looking at it in turn to solve the same problem, and I go deeper and deeper to understand it. Whether it was a highly-regulated intensive business like the building of an airline from scratch or the video-on-demand streaming service iflix, the common problem that I see is how to make services much more affordable, accessible, and convenient in the mass-market segment. I’ve also learned that deep industry experience is critical, but fortunately, all my partners and co-founders have been with that.”

To get every employee in all the businesses in the right direction, Asran advises, everything must be very clear: how to make decisions, how to communicate, how to resolve conflicts — to have everyone “on the same page”. This tactic is called “Google Docs Philosophy”: “Number one — write it down so that each person can see it. But as a Google Doc, it’s edited, it’s a live document, and we change it dynamically. I think that’s the beauty of startups that need to scale because otherwise, you’ll remain a small company. If you really want to scale fast, you should have these foundational elements in place.”

Versatility appears to describe Azran, although he prefers the word “curiosity”: “I’m a very curious soul; my whole life is about wanting to do something different. I enjoy learning a lot of new things, I get bored easily, and I like putting things together.”

The passing of Azran’s father from diabetes and cancer was an eye-opener: “I realized that the whole healthcare system was just focused on his physical health, no one thought about his inevitable depression and anxiety, that someone who has chronic conditions usually goes through.” In 2017, he moved on to found Naluri with Dr. Jeremy Ting, a medical systems expert. They defined the main issues with the current healthcare ecosystem, which Azran described as a combination of “Healthcare 1.0,” which is traditional hospitals and healthcare, and “Healthcare 2.0,” which is telehealth and telemedicine. Both systems, Azran said, are reactive and transactional. “Healthcare 3.0” needed to be more predictive and preventive, multidisciplinary, and outcomes-based.

Geared toward the B2B market, Naluri is tailored to the needs of corporate partners. Primarily serving employers and insurers, the company helps its clients assess the health of their employees or policyholders. As part of employees’ health screening, Naluri quantifies their levels of depression, anxiety, and stress, and conducts a simple physical health assessment: “More than half of our business comes from clients coming to us. We’ve built that reputation, so the organizations understand our value: they’ve seen that the health disorders of their employees are the real cost to them.”

Using the Naluri App platform, a person can connect to a team of health professionals: including health psychologists, dietitians, fitness coaches, holistic health coaches, executive coaches, and even financial planners as well as career coaches: “It all happened during COVID because it was a time when we tripled our growth primarily on the back of employment health needs. We realized very quickly: when the psychologist was helping the employees, 50-60% of the reasons why workers were burnt out, stressed, and depressed, are workplace stress and money. As much as a psychologist can support them, they need actual tangible advice.” These two functions are still used by 20-40% of users.

Azran perfectly understands that they have a lot of work because there is always some kind of challenge: “As an entrepreneur, you should always be on your toes: every year there’s a new entrance in the space. As you grow and track more funding and attention, you will inevitably attract more competition. Or players from China, India, other parts of Asia, or even the US can come to this region, that’s gonna happen. We just have to be sure we can now execute successfully.”

Naluri’s programs are localized to support multi-national organizations across Southeast Asia, through local, registered professionals and support in seven languages: “That’s the kind of geography we understand the best, rather than trying to put ourselves in far-away markets, where we don’t have the local knowledge and relevance to really be outstanding. I don’t think we would enter the American market organically. We’d work with some of the largest insurance partners, care organizations, or other powerful partners, who have regional and even global clients. If they help us to go to other markets, we’d take this opportunity.” In 2023, Naluri will continue to deepen its regional presence in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam: “But I also want to make sure that we deepen in our investment in product development both in terms of various kinds of features and healthcare economics.”

Naluri has raised about 15 million dollars. Did the previous experience help Azran to achieve such a stunning result? “If to summarize all the rounds I’ve made as an entrepreneur, I’ll get 12 of them. Each one of them was really hard. I’m more familiar with a pain to challenge, but it doesn’t get easier. I think 2023 may be the toughest year. Speaking to investors, I pitch like “it’s my third adventure, I’ve been working across several industries, but I’m really passionate about it.” I work with Jeremy (Dr. Jeremy Ting)who has deep industry experience. I think my background counts, especially here. As a founder, you know the heart part of taking the idea, building your first MVP, and getting your first clients, but you also know what it takes to run a thousand-people organization, manage a billion dollars in revenue, and all the challenges and complexity.”

The app comes together with an AI engine that analyses a user’s responses and progress and summarises the data for professional human coaches so they can provide more precise and higher-quality advice, coaching, and guidance: “We are deep believers in human healthcare professionals. We use AI behind the scenes: whatever you type, a machine is analyzing that to detect a distress core.”

Azran is also an angel investor supporting only the founders he knows personally: “I’ve seen every possible business plan, and I know it doesn’t materialize. But I’m interested in who is driving the team and specifically the team of founders. Everybody can bring you to an exciting problem, but are they the right people to tackle it? Talking about Naluri, every investor which comes on board is a person whom we know for at least a month. And sometimes they told us “no,” when we were talking to them for the first time. But we got them updated and built the relationships.”

At the end of the interview, Azran gave some recommendations for startup founders in digital health: “Love numbers, whether you are raising capital from investors or turning a pitch into a client’s perspective plan. Related to it is leveraging networks. You can get introductions or hire people that have got new networks. We are big believers in warm introductions rather than cold calls.”

Our previous episode was with Jonas Koblin: Building a Profitable Bootstrapped Digital Health & Educational Startup.


Alex Koshykov
Alex Koshykov (COO) with more than 10 years of experience in product and project management, passionate about startups and building an ecosystem for them to succeed.
Mariia Maliuta
Mariia Maliuta (Copywriter) "Woman of the Word" in BeKey; technical translator/interpreter & writer

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