Erki Mölder: A visit gives you a huge head start

Erki Mölder, an entrepreneur and investor in the field of health, is hatching big plans in Asia with a risk capital fund operating in Singapore. Their cooperation, which has achieved real results in a just few years, would never have come about if the local fund manager hadn’t happened to chat to a former prime minister of Estonia over lunch and been motivated to set up a partnership.

During a visit to Singapore, Taavi Rõivas, the vice-president of the Estonian parliament and a former prime minister of the country, told local investors and business people about Estonia’s e-success, e-Residency programme, patient portal and other notable strides the country has made. After his speech, he was approached by a local risk capital fund manager, whom Mölder captured in a photo standing next to the former prime minister. This photo marked the start of a close partnership.

“Being part of the business delegation on a minister’s visit can lead to unexpected opportunities,” says Mölder. “A photo with a prime minister is emotionally and symbolically significant in Asia, but needless to say, an entrepreneur won’t conquer the world with it alone. A lot of work has to be done after the visit.”

Since this visit in 2017, Mölder has been back to Singapore three times and shared information with his partners via Estonia’s honorary consulate and its honorary consul, Sonny Aswani. Mölder can’t stress enough how important preparatory and follow-up work are.

“A proper visit gives you a huge head start,” he says. “Otherwise, you could scrabble around there for two or three years without ever finding the right people. A business delegation is a mark of quality for the target country’s entrepreneurs, because they know there’s fierce competition to get in the VIP delegation and that you have to be outstanding to qualify. They know they’ll be making high-quality connections.”

According to Mölder, Asia is a promising region in terms of investing in the field of health, and since Singapore is safe and little affected by corruption, it’s a strategically important starting from which to move on to other countries.

“There are 600 million people in the region who don’t have access to medical care as we know it in Europe,” he explains. “It’s estimated that Asia as a whole needs around eight million doctors, which means there’s not only a lack of accessible and high-quality medical care, but also of opportunities to get yourself checked out. We’re working with European and Asian technology companies to develop solutions that make it possible to keep an eye on the health of individuals and communities in a more effective way.”

Mölder says that business delegation visits help save companies precious time, because such visits are planned correctly and are based on the context of the target country.

“Whereas an official visit, in terms of business development, is like driving on proper highways with the correct road signs,” he explains, “going it alone can be like getting bogged down on dirt roads in villages where there are no signs at all.”

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