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Meet the CEO: An Interview with Ubie’s Co-Founders, Kota Kubo and Yoshinori Abe

Meet the CEO: An Interview with Ubie’s Co-Founders, Kota Kubo and Yoshinori Abe

  • The journey of Ubie, a HealthTech startup primarily focused on Patient Solutions through the AI-driven medical products, founded in 2017
  • Commendable actions were taken by Ubie to help the fight against COVID-19
Ubie’s Co-Founders, Yoshinori Abe (left) and Kota Kubo (right).
Find Ubie on HealthTech Alpha

Kota Kubo and Yoshinori Abe are the Co-founders of Ubie, a Health Management Solutions startup based in Tokyo, Japan. Ubie believes that medical information can be distributed better amongst patient and healthcare professionals.  From accurately predicting the risk of diseases to supporting medical institutions through AI inquiry, Ubie’s team of innovative minds is commendable. With a strong aim to digitise the healthcare industry by providing AI (Artificial Intelligence)-driven medical services both to consumers and to businesses, Ubie strives to guide society in making informed decisions by providing top medical options.

Kubo’s journey began when he was a Masters of Engineering student at The University of Tokyo, where he wanted to develop a decision simulation that could predict diseases based on symptoms. The reluctance of his professor to proceed with this idea led Kubo to build his own prototype. Spurred by his passion and the potential of the product, he created an algorithm alongside his co-CEO Abe, a medical doctor, which predicts diseases from symptoms by learning from 50,000 pieces of paper data.

As a medical student, starting a business was out of the ordinary for Abe. However, with Kubo’s long-term vision of revolutionising the medical field, Abe decided to join forces with him to build the AI-based algorithm. What started off as a fun project for Abe turned into one with a promising future. Realising that the medical system is underdeveloped, this dynamic duo sought to advance their technology for the betterment of society.

This algorithm created is unlike conventional medical questionnaires whereby all patients answer the same questions. This promising product is an AI-based tool that can get accurate information from users, which improves the accuracy of the prediction of diseases. Both Kubo and Abe were determined to create a meaningful business as they truly believe the potential of this product.

The nature of COVID-19 sparked the shifts in mindsets towards digital health. Ubie is no stranger to witnessing behavioural changes in society as well after the outbreak of the coronavirus. With many acknowledging that hospitals have limited capacity, Ubie saw an increase in the adoption of their solutions for online medical information and symptoms checking.

“Digital health has gone from a “nice to have” to a “must-have”. Innovations in the area of at-home diagnostic equipment will enhance the ability of providers to do remote virtual care. We believe that’s here to stay. Complex care will remain at the hospital but we’ll continue to rely on virtual or home-based alternatives. Our solutions provide lower-cost alternatives, lesser stress on hospital bed capacity and allow patients, including the elderly, to receive more care at home.”

Ubie has seen the influx in workload during these challenging times. However, their motivation and zeal are kept at an all-time high as they know they can meaningfully contribute to society. In addition, new partnerships were formed with telemedicine companies as AI-driven medical questionnaires and symptoms checker go hand-in-hand perfectly, allowing patients to receive care at home. Their desire to accelerate business growth is further fuelled by their recent funding of $18.7 million (JPY2bn) in Series B earlier this month.

Despite Kubo’s tight and overwhelming schedule, he practices self-care and unwinds by whipping up is favourite Tonkotsu ramen at home. It not only helps him to relax, but it also helps spark creativity in him as well.  Kubo strives to continuously widen his extensive knowledge by reading informative books. One of the top reads he shared is What You Do Is Who You Are: How to Create Your Business Culture by Ben Horowitz, a venture capitalist and modern management expert. The lessons imparted on Kubo helped him to utilise both past and present organisational practices, together with advice from executives to build his company culture.

Being well-read, Kubo shared a famous quote that he preaches: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”, by Peter Drucker. Though having key business strategies is imperative, Kubo believes that having an empowering company culture is of utmost importance to ensure organisational success.

Ever since the COVID-19 outbreak, HealthTech startups have been rapidly accelerating and expanding their businesses due to the increased digitization of healthcare systems. With the outbreak scaling, Ubie announced that they have just released an AI symptoms checker and triage system within a few weeks. The commendable effort of Ubie’s engineers and doctors brought such a promising product to life with the aim to help the fight against the coronavirus. 

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Kubo shared that Ubie will be exploring global business opportunities despite facing uncertainties as he believes in courageously taking chances for success. “To show a presence in the global market, it is important to penetrate the local ecosystem. We believe that the Galen Growth HealthTech cohort is one of the great chances to help connect and develop a global business relationship.”

The COVID-19 crisis has enabled others to “self-triage”, an uncommon phenomenon before the outbreak. With society understanding the severity of the virus, many tend to steer away from hospitals unless absolutely necessary. To prevent nosocomial infection and the overwhelming of hospitals, the usage of Ubie’s online screening and triage tool played a vital role in differentiating between those infected with COVID-19 and those with less life-threatening ailments. Having a medical doctor at your fingertips and having symptom checks at home could potentially be the new normal, and Kubo believes that COVID-19 has shaped the future of patient journeys.

About the Galen Growth HealthTech Cohort

The Galen Growth HealthTech Cohort is the only acceleration programme built to scale digital health startups to be the next generation powering healthcare innovation in the New Normal in Asia. In 2020, Galen Growth is working with 25 HealthTech startups which will benefit from Galen Growth’s long-established and unmatched curated community of investors, corporate leaders and innovation teams and other essential stakeholders through our proven multi-channel tools. For more information, visit Galen Growth’s HealthTech Cohort webpage or read this article on the launch of the Galen Growth HealthTech Cohort.

For last week’s interview with Yong Wei Shian, Co-founder & CEO of Advanx Health, click here.

For more Meet the CEO exclusive interviews, click here.

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