Brunei Prince Invests $2M In BookDoc, A ‘ZocDoc For Southeast Asia’

BookDoc, a new entrant to the space of online doctor bookings in Southeast Asia, has raised a seed round of financing which includes a $2 million investment from Prince Abdul Qawi, a member of The House of Bolkiah, the ruling family of Brunei.

Royal families investing in technology startups is nothing new. Saudi Prince is a shareholder of both Twitter, Lyft and Snapchat, not to mention Apple, Fox and TechCrunch parent AOL, but this is the first investment from Brunei’s royalty in a tech startup. The 41-year-old prince, who is seventh in line to the Brunei throne, is an active businessman and is chairman of Brunei Hotel among other ventures.

That big name aside, the round also includes participation from other investors, although neither their identity nor the total size of the round was disclosed beyond the amount that the prince contributed.

BookDoc launched in Malaysia in October 2015 and it recently expanded to Singapore and Hong Kong. The service is not unlike billion-dollar U.S. startup ZocDoc, and regional competitors such as India’s Practo, which just moved into Southeast Asia, and DocDoc in Singapore. Chevy Beh, one co-founder of BookDoc, told TechCrunch that he first became acquainted with the prince through playing polo.

Beh, who was formerly managing director of BP Healthcare Group, said the funding round and valuation are the largest of any seed-stage startup company in Asia. But since neither he nor the company are providing raw figures on account of competitors, the validity of that claim remains unclear.

The BookDoc co-founder did say that the company wants to go beyond merely patient bookings and expand into insurance and offer a marketplace for health services from third parties. Insurance has synergies with the startup’s existing focus on healthcare for corporate companies. Beh said also that the startup plans a rapid expansion across Southeast Asia. It is aiming to be present in a total of six countries by the end of this year, with Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines its targets over the coming months.

“We were not looking to raise [this round] but [found a] good investor and it is testimony to the company to have him involved,” Beh told TechCrunch.

With total fundraising amounting to “a few million” U.S. dollars, Beh said that BookDoc is “not actively looking but if there’s a good strategic partner” then it might be interested.