Telemedicine company Syounika Online snags top prize at TechCrunch Tokyo

As a parent, if your child breaks out with a rash, what do you do? You panic, you search the internet for what could possibly be wrong and the next thing you know is that you’re convinced your child is dying. Syounika Online is a company that’s trying to reduce this problem in the Japanese market — and they’re the winners of the TechCrunch Tokyo 2016 pitch competition.

Happy child, happy life.

Happy child, happy life.

“A trip to a clinic takes a lot of time and can cost ¥6,000 ($60), but there are other challenges than time and money, too,” says Naoya Hashimoto, CEO and founder of Syounika Online. “More than 90 percent of clinic visits are not necessary, and that’s the main problem we are solving. At the clinic, there are per definition a lot of sick children, so if you bring your child to a clinic, they are subjected to infectious diseases.”

The company solves the problem by charging parents (more accurately, parents’ insurance companies) ¥3,000 for a tele-consultation with a pediatric doctor. From the comfort of their own house, using a Skype call or the popular LINE app, parents can send pictures and describe the symptoms. If the issue needs to be escalated, they can bee-line it to the nearest emergency room.

“Most of the time, there is nothing to worry about, and the parents just need to be reassured that everything is OK,” says Hashimoto.

The company is using a B2B strategy for growth, encouraging large corporates to offer its services as a perk, or selling to insurance companies as a cost-saving measure.

“Pediatrics is particularly well-suited to telemedicine,” Hashimoto explains. “Parents in Japan are sometimes shy about explaining what the exact problem is face-to-face. By using photos and text chat, the problem is reduced.”

A big congratulations to Syounika for picking up the TechCrunch Tokyo Excellence award and the ¥1 million ($10,000) that goes with it — and best of luck with future growth and development!