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Oyen Raises US$420K in Seed Funding to Turbocharge Growth of Southeast Asia’s Digital Pet Health Insurance Ecosystem

Table of content
  • The round was joined by Hustle Fund and angel investors from global technology companies 
  • Oyen is a pioneer digital-first pet insurance provider based in Malaysia; the funds will be used to enhance the company’s digital platform and cement its market position within the region’s emerging pet healthcare insurance market 


KUALA LUMPUR, 16 June 2021 – Oyen, a digital-first pet healthcare insurance provider based in Malaysia, has raised US$420,000 in a seed round participated by notable backers such as Hustle Fund, alongside angel investors who are former and current executives from Airbnb, Facebook and Rocket Internet. 

The company will use the funds to enhance its proprietary digital insurance platform and reinforce its market position within Malaysia’s pet healthcare insurance ecosystem. To achieve this, the company is aggressively expanding its recruitment in various roles in technology (such as software engineering) and non-technology (such as growth marketing). These efforts will serve as the firm’s springboard to become Southeast Asia’s leading pet healthcare insurer and move towards offering more holistic pet healthcare services to pet owners such as vet medical protection, preventative care and wellness, among other benefits.

“The number of people who have pets for companionship have increased during one of the world’s biggest recent crises, and our platform was specifically designed to alleviate concerns by pet owners – especially new ones – when managing their pets’ medical needs. With the support from our investors, Oyen is now better positioned to expand and enhance its services across Malaysia, while also exploring how we can extend the benefits of our platform to pet owners at the regional level,” said Kevin Hoong, Founder and CEO of Oyen.

Established in Malaysia, Oyen’s pet insurance platform is aimed at giving pet owners greater peace of mind in managing their pets’ medical needs via seamless insurance purchase and claims experience. The company’s services are integrated with a panel of veterinary clinic partners in Malaysia, making it easier for owners to access Oyen’s growing network of vets for quality vet services and quickly seeking medical attention for their pets – especially in case of emergencies. 

Oyen’s objective is to become the region’s category leader in pet healthcare insurance, especially since it is still a greenfield market with untapped potential. The company plans to be the first mover in this space by expanding its pet healthcare network through partnerships with regional insurers and veterinary clinics. This is part of the company’s vision to dominate the pet healthcare space and make it affordable and accessible to all pet owners region-wide. The company is driving towards having 100,000 pets insured in Southeast Asia within the next three years – half of which is expected to come from the company’s first market, Malaysia.

“Southeast Asia is an exciting region with a lot of growth ahead of it, driven not just by accelerating technology adoption across industries, but also startups like Oyen who bring a product-led, customer-centred perspective to traditional products like insurance. We are excited by the growth that Kevin and his team have achieved in Malaysia, and are keen to see the innovations that they will bring to the pet insurance ecosystem – both as an investor and dog-lover,” said Shiyan Koh, General Partner and Co-Founder at Hustle Fund.

Oyen is currently operating in a fast-growing pet care market in the Asia-Pacific, where the regional market’s CAGR (compounding annual growth rate) is estimated to reach US$132 billion by 2027. According to research, the region – including some of Southeast Asia’s largest markets – is witnessing an increase in pet ownership, with nearly 60 percent of people owning a pet at home. This trend escalated even further during the COVID-19 pandemic, with several pet owners noting that their pets are helping them cope with their mental health during the crisis. This subsequently opens up an exciting window of opportunities in the pet healthcare department, mainly insurance, with owners having to deal with pet’s unexpected medical expenses for illness and injury – which can reach up to RM 8,000 (US$1,941) annually.

In Malaysia, Oyen is able to provide the country’s highest veterinary medical coverage, with up to RM 8, 000 (US$1,941) of the amount claimable in vet medical fees, up to RM1,000 in pet burial cost,  and up to RM 50, 000 (US$12,132) in third party liability claims. Through these, pet owners will be able to budget their expenses and improve the personalisation of their pets’ medical needs, rather than needing to rely on their savings – especially with the ever-increasing costs of treatments and veterinary expenses.

After weathering the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic, Southeast Asia’s insurance ecosystem is projected to rebound with greater resilience. This is particularly since, in the region’s major markets such as Malaysia, the life insurance sector is projected to see a CAGR of 30 percent to reach over US$15 billion by 2025, while the general insurance market is anticipated to witness a CAGR of over 14 percent to reach nearly US$20 billion by 2024.

As such – and amid a growing consumer shift towards digitised insurance offerings – Oyen is looking to work closely with industry players and regulators in the region to expand its services to more markets, with a view to introduce services for other consumer insurance segments for people such as home, life and medical insurance.

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👩‍💼 Business
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This giveaway has already expired

This May, Oyen is giving away our Preventive Care Plans (with value up to RM1,650) for free!

Here is what’s up for grabs:

  • 3 Preventive Care Essential plans (value up to RM750)
  • 2 Preventive Care Deluxe plans (value up to RM900)

To win, all you need to do is buy a pet insurance plan and you’ll automatically be eligible!

5 people will stand a chance to win one plan for free!

All winners will be announced on IG Live on 1 June 2022 at 5:00 pm on @my.oyen’s Instagram. 

What are Oyen’s Preventive Care Plans? 

These plans allow you to claim for routine & preventive treatments such as physical checkups, vaccinations, blood tests, de-flea and deworm. 

You can visit any vet clinic in Malaysia, pay first and get reimbursed from us (just like our insurance plans). 

What is the difference between the Preventive Care Plans & Pet Insurance Plans?
Here is a comparison:

To win a FREE preventive care plan, buy a pet insurance plan this May 2022 and you will be eligible*! 

The giveaway period is between:

1 May 2022, 12:00AM - 31 May 2022, 11:59PM

Click here to purchase your pet insurance plan now. Premium starts from just RM32/month. 

*Terms and conditions apply:

  1. This campaign period is between 1 May 2022, 12:00 AM to 31 May 2022, 11:59 PM
  2. The campaign is only applicable to new Oyen Pet Insurance policies purchased during the campaign period
  3. The offer is applicable for all pet insurance plans for cats and dogs (single & group policies; annual & monthly policies)
  4. Each policy purchased will be considered one (1) entry. You can have multiple entries, up to a maximum of 10 (the higher the entry numbers, the higher your chances of winning).
  5. All giveaway winners will be announced on IG Live on 1 June 2022 at 5:00 pm on @my.oyen’s Instagram
  6. This giveaway cannot be exchanged for cash and is not valid in conjunction with other promotions, discount or vouchers unless otherwise stated
  7. Oyen Sdn Bhd reserves the right to update or modify any terms and conditions at any time
  8. In the event of any updates or changes being made, the revised terms and conditions will be shared via email
  9. All other terms and conditions for Oyen Pet Insurance applies
👩‍💼 Business
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If you’re a vet in Malaysia planning your next big move, look no further. You’ve come to the right place. Here’s your ultimate guide on how to start a vet clinic in Malaysia.

According to this report from 2018 by The Star, there was (and still is) a severe shortage of veterinary practitioners in Malaysia, with only a total of 453 private vet clinics for a population of almost 30 million citizens.

With a vet to pet ratio like that, you can’t help but wonder why these numbers are so paltry. With the lack of qualified vets in the country and a need to import vets from abroad aside, many locally trained vets have found it difficult to set up shop.

Be it the hefty startup costs or stringent regulations, we answer the key questions and detail a step-by-step approach to get you off on your journey and a step closer to achieving your dream of opening a vet clinic or animal medical centre.

How To Start A Vet Clinic?

We’ve got you covered. Here are 6 steps on how to start a veterinary practice to help you get organised and on your way to becoming a successful ‘vetrepreneur’.

STEP 1: YOUR BUSINESS PLAN

Have a business plan

As any successful ‘vetrepreneur’ (not a real word!) will tell you, the key to a successful veterinary practice (or any business for that matter) is PLANNING.

A well-structured and mapped out plan will help you keep your tasks and goals in check and guide you on your journey when times get tough (which they will).

1. QUALIFICATIONS

As per the Malaysian Veterinary Council (MVC) Guidelines, all private veterinary clinics, surgeries and animal hospitals must be owned and operated by a veterinarian/veterinary surgeon on the MVC registry. Local and foreign graduate vets need to obtain their Annual Practising Certificate (APC) to practise veterinary medicine.

2. CAPITAL

The first thing you’ll need is FUNDS, and the question on everyone’s lips, How Much Does It Cost To Start A Vet Clinic? Well, here’s a rough estimate:

  • Rent RM2,500-RM8,000

This depends on the area in which you choose to set up shop, and as you can see, the range is quite significant. Alternatively, you could purchase your intended premises and the funds used to pay the mortgage instead. Whichever works better for you.

  • Equipment RM100,000-RM400,000

The bulk of your start-up cost. This includes medical/surgical devices from surgical beds and lighting to imaging and anaesthetic devices etc. Lab equipment can be expensive if you intend to do your own lab work. Alternatively, you could send out your samples (blood/urine etc.) to local public and private pathology labs that run animal specimens.

The cost of kennel facilities (cages, play areas) is included here as well. The bulk of your cost would go to imaging devices like X-ray and Ultrasound machines which aren’t absolutely essential to start off with. Still, most animal medical centres these days have these basic imaging facilities. 

  • Non-clinical Rooms RM20,000-RM50,000                                               

The cost of setting up areas like the waiting room, reception, staff pantries and lavatories fall in this category. Once again, it depends on how fancy you’d like your place to be. Be wise and mindful of your expected clientele when deciding. Know your crowd!

  • Staffing RM12,000-RM20,000

You’ll need at least 1 or 2 clinical (licensed technicians) and 2 non-clinical assistants (receptionists, kennel attendants) to start with. It’s always good practice to have funds ready for the initial three months as business is bound to be slow when you first open. A tough art in its own right, employing staff with the right balance of qualifications and commitment will be key to the initial success of your business.

  • Medication RM10,000-RM15,000

As most vet clinics in Malaysia dispense their own meds, you’ll need a starting stock of medications for use in your clinic and for sale to your pawtients. (their parents will pay!)

  • Office Equipment & Clinical Management Software RM10,000

Your computers, network and management software can cost a pretty penny. Printers, copiers, Microchipping equipment and software should be considered as well.

  • Marketing, Social Media, Signboards and Banners RM5,000

Getting your name out there is key, but be aware of the strict regulations on advertising professional services.

  • Insurance RM5,000

Professional Indemnity (Malpractice) Insurance and Business Insurance is vital and not something you would want to stinge on.

  • Miscellaneous

Alternatively, you could purchase a running practice or a book of clients of a vet who’s closing shop/retiring. This might cost a fair bit more in your starting capital, but you’d save on the trouble of establishing yourself and your reputation, which can sometimes be priceless. 

So there you go. Opening a professional business like a vet clinic can be pricey to start with but equally rewarding in the long run. Thankfully, banks in Malaysia are relatively kinder to professionals regarding business loans and short-term financing schemes. Consider leasing companies for the initial cost of your clinic equipment and renovation.

Your ongoing monthly expenses will include maintaining your inventory of drugs and specialty food. The bulk of this, however, will be for payroll, utilities and marketing.

3. SPECIALITY

Find your niche and build your clientele accordingly. While some vets operate general animal medical centres that see every pet and wild animal (besides humans) under the sun, many vets are specialised in a particular field, such as surgical or 24-hour emergency clinics, mobile vet clinics, etc. 

4. LOCATION

You’ll need to carefully select an area that isn’t saturated with vet clinics and, of course, lots of people with pets living close by.

STEP 2: Establish Your Company

Set up a company for your vet clinic

For Malaysian citizens, choose from one of the following forms of business organisations: 

  1. Sole Proprietorship
  2. Partnership
  3. Limited Liability Company (LLC) where your vet clinic’s name will end with PLT (Perkongsian Liabiliti Terhad)
  4. Company, where your vet clinic’s name will end with Sdn Bhd (Sendirian Berhad). 

Establishing a legal business entity such as a PLT or Sdn Bhd protects you from being held personally liable if you or your practice is sued.

If you’re unfamiliar with the process of starting a company, it’s best to approach a company secretary that doubles up as a tax agent and a company secretariat. They’ll appoint a company secretary, register for business taxes, manage your books, basically all the nitty-gritty bits of starting your own company.

STEP 3: Set Up A Bank Account

Setup a bank account for your vet clinic

This will protect your personal assets and income as well as make filing for taxes a lot easier. Apply for business credit cards for all your clinic-related purchases.

Business accounts and loans often have better interest rates and higher lines of credit, as well as government-backed Small-Medium Enterprises (SME) incentives you could be eligible for.

As mentioned above, using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset (your home, car etc.) protection. This protection is often referred to as ‘the corporate veil’ in business law.

STEP 4: Permits And Licenses

Obtain and renew your Annual Practising Certificate (APC) yearly

All certified veterinarians and veterinary surgeons in Malaysia are registered under the Malaysian Veterinary Council (MVC), which comes under the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) purview at the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries. All qualified veterinarians are granted official registration numbers under the National Veterinary Register.

Annual Practising Certificates (APCs) are required every year. Renewal costs of RM25/year.

To open a veterinary practice, you would require a license issued by the MVC. You can start your application process here.

You will need to have your clinic floor plan approved by the MVC along with various other requirements set by your local city/district council.

A veterinary clinic is generally run out of an office building. Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Fitness (CF), which ensure that zoning laws and government regulations have been met.

  • If you plan to rent, it is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CF. After a major renovation, a new CF often needs to be issued. As in most cases, bare units will be renovated before opening, be sure to include language in your rental agreement stating that rent payments will not commence until a valid CF is issued.
  • If you plan to purchase or build your new vet clinic, You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CF from your local city/district land authority (Majlis Bandaraya/ Perbandaran/ Daerah)

The Guide to Professional Conduct. issued by the Malaysian Veterinary Council, 1992 states that you would need to inform fellow colleagues within your area, as well as the general public, about your intentions to set up shop.

According to local celebrity vet Dr Salehatul Khuzaimah, it is a courtesy call to your colleagues in the vicinity. Vets will exchange operation hours and facilities offered and foster a close and cordial relationship with each other.

Join a National or Regional Veterinarians Association like Malaysian Veterinary Medical Association (MAVMA) and Malaysian Small Animal Veterinary Association (MSAVA). You can advertise your interest in opening up a vet clinic through these avenues.

As per the Guide to Professional Conduct:

  • A signboard may be placed to notify the public of a new vet clinic or surgery. This sign may be illuminated by a fixed light and may display any of  the following words only:
  • Klinik Veterinar (Veterinary Clinic)
  • Klinik Haiwan (Animal Clinic)
  • Hospital Veterinar (Veterinary Hospital)
  • Hospital Haiwan (Animal Hospital)
  • The lettering should not exceed 38cm (15 inches) in height and, not more than two colours for the background and the lettering be used. A directional arrow may also be used to indicate the location of the vet clinic.
  • A plate indicating the name and qualifications of the practising veterinary surgeon may be mounted on the front elevation of the practice. Such plate should contain no information other than the name, letters indicating a professional degree or diploma as entered in the Register, the title "Veterinary Surgeon", the hours of attendance and the telephone number. The lettering on a plate should not exceed 7.6cm (3 inches) in height.
  • The sign must not be fixed at a location that is difficult to view or visit
  • The drawing of animals on the sign or wall of the practice is highly unethical

STEP 5: Get Business Insurance

Just as important as setting up business bank accounts and credit lines, business insurance is a must to safeguard your new clinic. It protects the financial well being of your practice in the event of a covered loss.

There are several types of policies for different types of businesses with varying degrees of risk. If you’re unsure, begin with Public Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that a vet clinic will need.

Other policies you might be interested in include Fire Insurance and coverage against national disasters like floods etc. which can be quite common in Malaysia.

STEP 6: Branding and Advertising

Brand your vet clinic

Your brand is your legacy. It should embody your mission and values. It sets you apart from your competitors and will define your very existence as a vet clinic owner and entrepreneur. With that in mind, take branding seriously. A strong brand is key to a successful business and its steady growth,

Design your company logo and pick a theme and colour palette that suits you. , From your signboards and social media posts to stationery and specialty products, using the same theme throughout your business will leave customers with an imprint of your brand and an immediate connection to your brilliant service and care.

It is worth noting that advertising of professional services is frowned upon within the medical and veterinary fraternity and is clearly stated on Page 7 of the Guide to Professional Conduct, 1992. Similar regulations to signage as stated above apply to your professional stationery, so be sure to take note of these guidelines and restrictions.

The best way to promote your business is by providing top-notch care and for this to spread by word of mouth.

While advertising your services outrightly on social media isn’t advocated, posts offering health tips and guides to care for pets are great tools for educating the community. It also increases public awareness of your very existence, your crackerjack skills, and your irresistible charm.



Dr. Ima

Instafamous and multi-talented vet Dr Ima conducts basic care guides and tips for pet owners on her various social media platforms daily.

Partnering with local businesses can help too. Offer discounts for referrals from your local groomer and pet store. 

Organise an ‘open house’ when you open your doors for business for the first time. It’s a great opportunity to meet pet owners in the area and introduce them to your services and products.

Although not as popular in Malaysia, creating a website for your business can be very helpful in the long run and appear more professional than social media pages and profiles. 

How To Start A Veterinary Practice?

The 6 steps above will set you on the right path to setting up your very own veterinary practice, be it for yourself or for a vet you choose to hire.

The starting salary for a fresh graduate veterinarian at a private vet clinic is around RM3,500-RM4,500.

How Much Does It Cost To Start A Vet Clinic? 

Setting up a basic vet clinic can cost about RM200,000!

Well, from our calculations above, you’ll see that you’ll need at least RM164,500 to set up a basic vet clinic with its bare necessities. Of course, most startup costs can be serviced by business loans and equipment, furniture and renovations covered by leasing companies.

FAQs - Answered by Legit and Successful (still practising) Vets

How much can you charge?

An average vet clinic fee in Malaysia is considered rather affordable compared to the rest of the developed world. The consultation fee for a routine visit to the vet could set you back anywhere from RM20 to RM100, depending on the demographics and nature of the visit. 

To help you gauge what a fair set of charges is, scout your area for acceptable fees for consultation and services. Traditional prescription medications are marked up 2 times cost while chronic-use meds are 1.5-2 times cost.  

Vaccine prices are within a standardised range, and food and specialty care items are set at the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) or marked up slightly.

What happens during a typical day at a veterinary practice?

A typical day as a vet

Depending on the scope of the veterinary practice, standard services such as annual check-ups, lab work, and spay and neuter procedures will be provided at fixed hours during the day. For instance, some clinics will conduct surgeries in the mornings, followed by routine visits and checkups after lunch, followed by slots for vaccinations in the evening. 

Time between patients should be set aside for home visits, staff meetings and educational sessions, and be prepared for the inevitable emergency visits.

How to keep your customers happy?

Keeping both pet parents and pets happy

Pet owners are known to be as protective and caring of their fur babies as they are for their children.  Remind yourself and your staff frequently that a worried parent of a sick pet can be highly sensitive and off their usual demeanour. Being extra courteous and empathetic to their feelings is vital in maintaining a loyal following.

As mentioned above, good skills and great service spread by word of mouth will be your greatest form of advertisement. So, hire friendly, experienced and knowledgeable staff, even if it costs you a little more. When you deliver excellent customer service and high-quality medicine, word will spread quickly.

Also, bear in mind that taking good care of your staff will reap your business rewards as they’ll always have your back and treat your patients as their own.

What are some skills that will help you build a successful veterinary practice?

  • Strong interpersonal skills and great bedside manner
  • Adept observational skills are vital as animals can’t verbalise their complaints
  • Manual dexterity is an important skill to possess, as your patients tend to get anxious and/or aggressive when on your examination table
  • Continuous education and professional development to keep you abreast with the latest in veterinary medicine, public health and local community issues.

What is the growth potential for a veterinary practice?

Veterinary practises that have made a name for themselves within a community have often expanded by opening new branches. It is, however, important to maintain quality standards of service and care by hiring capable surrogates and training a team of experienced staff to be worthy flag-bearers of your company and practice.

Mobile veterinary clinics allow you to reach a cohort of patients outside your local community, expanding your brand at the same time. 

How can you make your business grow?

  • Stock up on specialty products you believe in, such as food, supplements, skin care items, and toys.
  • Offer mobile services and home visits. While premium charges do apply, your customers will be extremely grateful and faithful to you.
  • Link up with your local shelter and do your bit for charity. Pro bono services will always hold you in good stead and reward your practice in the long run.
  • Accept multiple forms of payment, including credit cards, online cash transfers, e-wallets as well as pet insurance,
  • Sign up with Pet Insurance Providers like Oyen and become a part of their vet network

What is the Oyen Vet Network?

A brilliant initiative by Malaysia’s best pet health insurance, you’ll receive referrals by Oyen from insured pet-owners in your area when you sign up for the Oyen Vet Network. You’ll get to focus on offering the best care to your patients without them having to worry about the incurring cost.

By signing up, your vet clinic will receive a prime listing on Oyen.my as well as a premium onboarding kit including flyers, banners and stickers. Attend a free webinar and learn about the company’s products, policies and coverage.

Here’s everything you need to know about Oyen Pet Health Insurance.

In Conclusion

As there is a shortage of private vet clinics in the country, veterinarians in Malaysia are encouraged to take the leap of faith and put their awesome skills to the test. We hope this guide on How to start a Vet Clinic in Malaysia And Its Costs has been helpful. 

All the best on your journey!

While you’re here, check out the 10 best vet clinics in KL and Selangor.

Useful Links

  1. Guide to Professional Conduct. Issued by Malaysian Veterinary Council, 1992.
  2. Veterinary Surgeons (Companion Animal Premise and Practice) Directive 2/2015 Veterinary Surgeons Act 1974.


👩‍💼 Business
- read
  • The round was joined by Hustle Fund and angel investors from global technology companies 
  • Oyen is a pioneer digital-first pet insurance provider based in Malaysia; the funds will be used to enhance the company’s digital platform and cement its market position within the region’s emerging pet healthcare insurance market 


KUALA LUMPUR, 16 June 2021 – Oyen, a digital-first pet healthcare insurance provider based in Malaysia, has raised US$420,000 in a seed round participated by notable backers such as Hustle Fund, alongside angel investors who are former and current executives from Airbnb, Facebook and Rocket Internet. 

The company will use the funds to enhance its proprietary digital insurance platform and reinforce its market position within Malaysia’s pet healthcare insurance ecosystem. To achieve this, the company is aggressively expanding its recruitment in various roles in technology (such as software engineering) and non-technology (such as growth marketing). These efforts will serve as the firm’s springboard to become Southeast Asia’s leading pet healthcare insurer and move towards offering more holistic pet healthcare services to pet owners such as vet medical protection, preventative care and wellness, among other benefits.

“The number of people who have pets for companionship have increased during one of the world’s biggest recent crises, and our platform was specifically designed to alleviate concerns by pet owners – especially new ones – when managing their pets’ medical needs. With the support from our investors, Oyen is now better positioned to expand and enhance its services across Malaysia, while also exploring how we can extend the benefits of our platform to pet owners at the regional level,” said Kevin Hoong, Founder and CEO of Oyen.

Established in Malaysia, Oyen’s pet insurance platform is aimed at giving pet owners greater peace of mind in managing their pets’ medical needs via seamless insurance purchase and claims experience. The company’s services are integrated with a panel of veterinary clinic partners in Malaysia, making it easier for owners to access Oyen’s growing network of vets for quality vet services and quickly seeking medical attention for their pets – especially in case of emergencies. 

Oyen’s objective is to become the region’s category leader in pet healthcare insurance, especially since it is still a greenfield market with untapped potential. The company plans to be the first mover in this space by expanding its pet healthcare network through partnerships with regional insurers and veterinary clinics. This is part of the company’s vision to dominate the pet healthcare space and make it affordable and accessible to all pet owners region-wide. The company is driving towards having 100,000 pets insured in Southeast Asia within the next three years – half of which is expected to come from the company’s first market, Malaysia.

“Southeast Asia is an exciting region with a lot of growth ahead of it, driven not just by accelerating technology adoption across industries, but also startups like Oyen who bring a product-led, customer-centred perspective to traditional products like insurance. We are excited by the growth that Kevin and his team have achieved in Malaysia, and are keen to see the innovations that they will bring to the pet insurance ecosystem – both as an investor and dog-lover,” said Shiyan Koh, General Partner and Co-Founder at Hustle Fund.

Oyen is currently operating in a fast-growing pet care market in the Asia-Pacific, where the regional market’s CAGR (compounding annual growth rate) is estimated to reach US$132 billion by 2027. According to research, the region – including some of Southeast Asia’s largest markets – is witnessing an increase in pet ownership, with nearly 60 percent of people owning a pet at home. This trend escalated even further during the COVID-19 pandemic, with several pet owners noting that their pets are helping them cope with their mental health during the crisis. This subsequently opens up an exciting window of opportunities in the pet healthcare department, mainly insurance, with owners having to deal with pet’s unexpected medical expenses for illness and injury – which can reach up to RM 8,000 (US$1,941) annually.

In Malaysia, Oyen is able to provide the country’s highest veterinary medical coverage, with up to RM 8, 000 (US$1,941) of the amount claimable in vet medical fees, up to RM1,000 in pet burial cost,  and up to RM 50, 000 (US$12,132) in third party liability claims. Through these, pet owners will be able to budget their expenses and improve the personalisation of their pets’ medical needs, rather than needing to rely on their savings – especially with the ever-increasing costs of treatments and veterinary expenses.

After weathering the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic, Southeast Asia’s insurance ecosystem is projected to rebound with greater resilience. This is particularly since, in the region’s major markets such as Malaysia, the life insurance sector is projected to see a CAGR of 30 percent to reach over US$15 billion by 2025, while the general insurance market is anticipated to witness a CAGR of over 14 percent to reach nearly US$20 billion by 2024.

As such – and amid a growing consumer shift towards digitised insurance offerings – Oyen is looking to work closely with industry players and regulators in the region to expand its services to more markets, with a view to introduce services for other consumer insurance segments for people such as home, life and medical insurance.

👩‍💼 Business
- read

Listen to the interview here:


Arvindh: Hey, this is Arvindh Yuvaraj. You're listening to Open for Business and I will be joined in a bit by Kevin Hoong. He's the CEO of Oyen and Oyen is Malaysia's first, fully digital pet insurance platform. Now, at this point, you're probably surprised that such a thing even exists or you're confused as to why pet insurance is even a thing. Both reactions are valid because pet insurance isn't exactly popular here in Malaysia. But the people who have pets, especially cats and dogs, sometimes find themselves with very pricey vet bills. It happens and medical treatment isn't cheap, no matter how many legs you have. So, Kevin founded this platform to tackle and solve those issues specifically.

Kevin, thanks so much for joining us today. 

Kevin: Thank you, Arvindh. 

Arvindh: I want to start by talking about something that you said in a few other interviews that you did, that a lot of people have adopted pets over the last year because of the pandemic and the MCOs and stuff. And Oyen was started with them in mind. So, is it safe to say that this is your main target market? Like new pet owners? 

Kevin: I started Oyen sometime around late last year or rather the idea got incepted late last year when I was just with some of my friends who started adopting pets and many of them are young adults who are working at home. Their companies have policies that require them to stay and work at home. And they decided to get a cat for companionship. So from there as first-time pet owners, they usually have a lot of questions and a lot of them were just exchanging notes about what are some of the tips or what are some of the vets to go to? 

What kind of cat litter should we get, what kind of food they should take? And those were more of the initial phase of owning a pet until you realize that it also comes with the burden of the health care costs. From there, I've gathered all these feedback and realised that, "Hey, wait a minute, pet insurance is such a big thing all around the world. It's a $7 billion worth of premium globally. And it's a growing insurance segment. However, over in this part of the world, it's still not so popular. So, for us, when we look at the trend, like 25% of increased pet ownership during the pandemic.

And I think it makes sense, right? Having pets will help you with your mental stress, will help you stay positive and have something to look out for when you're at home, rather than living alone. And from that people are just getting more and more pets. And for us, we see that as an opportunity. 

We're not just only targeting new pet owners.  Millennials belong to about 30% of all the pet owners. They're existing pet owners today who are also concerned and experienced about the health care costs of their pets. And they know that. They're actively seeking out for insurance plans to cover their risks but today there are no credible options. And that's why we've launched Oyen.

Arvindh: And I guess it works both ways because people who suddenly adopt a pet sometimes don't realize that there's a huge cost that comes with a dog or cat. Check-ups, vaccinations, skincare products, grooming, can get pretty expensive unexpectedly.

Kevin: Yeah. So a friend of mine, her name is Jehan, she has two cats. One of her cats' names, who is currently insured with us, is called Siti Kylie Socrates. When she adopted her cats, she didn't know or anticipate the costs that will come with it when it comes to an unexpected illness. Her cat got a kidney illness and because of that she had to pay quite a hefty amount. So she was telling me, “it would have been great if I had cat insurance, then, then at least I can manage some of those costs.”

She really inspired me. And along with a few other pet owners, friends of mine who have given us a lot of feedback throughout this whole process to launch something that customers really want rather than what the insurance company built from the top down. 

Arvindh: What does Oyen mean by the way? Any meaning behind the name itself?

Kevin: If you are amongst the Malay community, you will notice that Oyen is a nickname for ginger-coloured cats. In Bahasa, the colour orange is oren. So it's a tender and loving way of calling your ginger-coloured cats. But they're also known to be a bit mischievous. They are naughty, they're a bit cheeky but they're fun. They're fun to have around. 

Arvindh: So basically, Garfield. 

Kevin: Basically Garfieled, but localised. 

Arvindh: Okay, so obviously you studied the market before launching Oyen and you saw a gap or pain point that you could tackle. So, what was that gap exactly?

Kevin: We're not the first to launch pet insurance in Malaysia. A lot of companies have attempted it. And I think over the years, the execution, or rather maybe the product design didn't cater to what the customers wanted. We saw this as an opportunity because many products are not successful in the first try. It takes iteration. It takes someone who can execute strategies or plans well. And it's also timing, right? We launched this at the peak of this pandemic and when I look at the numbers, they are actually 1 million cats and dogs in Malaysia. 

In fact, a lot of Malaysians own more than one pet. Some cat owners came to us with 10 pets, 15 pets and they want to insure all of them with us. And what we understand is there's only about 0.01% of cats and dogs insured in Malaysia. There's a big gap for us there to close. It's just how we designed the product to make it simpler and also to make it online and to have a unique branding behind it and personalisation. We have content to reach out to them because a lot of these customers, they want a brand that speaks to them.

It's no longer about one big insurance company selling 50 products that are not customised. We are stepping in here to bridge the gap between an insurance company that has the facility, the capability and the right people to manage the backend, which is the underwriting, the pricing. And then for us, it is about execution, going to market, talking to customers, providing customer service, designing a beautiful website for people to engage with. And from then on, we actually cater to the things that they want out of this pet insurance.

Arvindh: 1 million registered pets with licenses?

Kevin: So, the thing about licenses in Malaysia, between cats and dogs, only dogs are required to be licensed with the local authority.

Not everyone registers their dogs and cats do not need to be registered. The data that I have is from Euromonitor, and these are just the estimates or studies based on the 8 million households and how many of them actually own cats and dogs.

Arvindh: Interesting. Because I used to wonder why we don't have pet insurance here,  why it wasn't as popular. And then I realised that it's probably because of the pet culture we have here, maybe. Do you see that changing? Like, is there more demand now than there was maybe like 10 years ago? 

Kevin: Yeah. So, there's this thing called pet humanisation, right.

People treat their pets more and more like a family member. And I think the awareness of insurance also takes time to develop. I think insurance requires a certain level of financial education in the country. And I believe Malaysia, compared to other Southeast Asia countries, of course, other than Singapore, we're actually quite well versed with our insurance policies. We understand motor insurance now better, we know how to get travel insurance when we travel, even businesses are all getting insured. We are at a point where we reached that maturity in consumers, and also a point where people are treating their pets better and better, especially when you think about the new generation, the millennials, who rather than having kids, they have pets first.

It’s like a try-out on how their parenting skills are before they get their first child. So that's where we see the trend going and we decided that it's time we launch something for this group of growing customers, looking out for the needs for their pets. 

Arvindh: I see. I'm just curious before we continue, will you be insuring other animals in the future? Like hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs, you know, a lot of people have those as pets as well. 

Kevin: We do get that a lot. We had one customer who came in and asked us if we insured sugar gliders. So, I had to look them up. I think I saw them when I was in Langkawi last year. But the thing about insurance is we need to have information about these pets first and typically in large numbers. Insurance is all about having a large pool, predicting the claims number and then pricing it accurately. Globally, the most popular pets are cats and dogs. And also they have a longer life span and easier to manage or predict, whereas for animals like hamsters, maybe goldfish, these are very hard to predict and the data is very scarce. So, not many insurance companies will actually insure more than that. So, for now, we are actually limiting currently to only pet dogs and cats.

Arvindh: So you have an eligibility list before pets can be insured, right? So, not every pet can sign up immediately. Could you tell us about that eligibility? Because it's different for dogs and cats. 

Kevin: For cats to be insured, first and foremost, they have to be between the ages of 12 weeks to 10 years old. And also they need to provide an identification of their pet, which means you need to submit a vaccine report or a vet medical ID.

This is usually issued after you get your pets vaccinated or your cats vaccinated, because it shows proof that you own the pet. Insurance is always about having an insurable interest. If you don't have that interest, then you can't get insurance. Imagine you're trying to insure a car, but you don't have proof of ownership of the car. It's the same concept. 

So the third thing is that you can't insure a stray. You have to insure a pet that lives with you. That resides with you and is in Malaysia. 

Whereas for dogs, similarly, you need to be between the ages of 12 weeks to 10 years old and you have to be microchipped. And on top of that for dogs, they cannot be under the restricted or banned breeds. I think the insurance company just wants to  manage their risks because one of the coverage that we actually provide for dog owners and also cat owners is third party liability coverage.

What that means is that whenever your pet injures somebody else, typically a member of the public and potentially cause them harm and they will need to get medical attention, the cost of the medical treatment will be covered by the insurance company. Those are the key requirements for both cats and dogs. Of course, if you want to read it, you can read it on our website online and that can provide you with more description. 

Arvindh: I want to go back to the eligibility list for a bit and something in that list. You said that dogs have to be microchipped and under a certain age, right? But I'm guessing that other than the pedigree types or the ones that you get at the store, the ones that you buy, I think most local dogs are not microchipped. And I'm not sure if that's even a popular concept here. So, isn't that like a whole segment of the market that won't be able to use your service?

Kevin: Microchips have been around for some time and a lot of people know the benefits of it. Globally, it's very common for dogs or cats to be microchipped. It helps. There are a lot of benefits. In the event where your pets get lost, I think that that really helps the owners to identify them and also it helps you keep track of their (medical) history.

The medical history of a pet can be stored if you have a single data point. Over the years, a lot of societies or even adoption centers, have been promoting and making sure that pets should get chipped. So I think what we're doing here is we are educating the pet owners to see the benefits of this microchipping.

Of course we understand that it's also still a hurdle, but there are long-term benefits to it. And it's only a RM25 to RM50 cost. We have waived the requirement for cats and negotiated this with the insurance company, but we haven't been able to do it for dogs because maybe there's no clear alternative to it yet.

Regardless, we have already helped the 60- 70% of our target audience because there are more pet cats in Malaysia and pet dogs. For the other 40%, we need to continue to educate them about microchipping. What we want to do in the future is potentially bundle everything into our services.

We want to be that one stop location where you come and get your microchip booked and then we can channel you to our vet panels or vet partners. We can even get you to pre-book your vaccines, pre-book all your additional medical checkups, because these are riders. Insurance companies typically don't cover these routine checks because insurance is to protect against unexpected illnesses, not to protect a sure thing, otherwise there wouldn't be need for insurance. 

We can assist in giving you the services as a top-up, as a rider, at a discount. Then it incentivises pet owners to remember to get them vaccinated because most pet owners forget about their vaccine schedules because it's written on a piece of paper.

We want to digitalise the whole journey and to give customers that seamless experience and microchip will come in, in the future, where we can just give them that easy access to get them chipped and to get them insured.

Arvindh: I liked that you mentioned how you are sort of educating the market as well. And I guess if people know that they can get the pets insured, then there's more incentive or there's more initiative to take them on to get them microchipped because before this there are a lot of people who adopt dogs, adopt cats from shelters and from adoption drives.

And I'm guessing that 99% of them won't be microchipped because they're not microchipped from the start, but these adopters are the ones who might need Oyen the most with medical costs.

Kevin: That's right. Maybe one day we will even bundle it into our services and that will make it even better for them. And I think there are a lot of things that we can do in the future to really help this group of people. The real benefit here is to start accumulating data because data would help us to price the plans or to personalise the pricing for each type of dog or each type of cat accurately. And that's essentially what an insurance company does right? We have this large amount of data, we're able to synthesize it and also to not price discriminate. We don't want to charge a 10-year-old dog the same as a one-year-old dog who is healthy and young. Over time, with the right information or identifiers that are accurate, we're able to do more personalisation of the insurance plans.

Arvindh: Speaking of cost, let's talk about revenue for a bit for the company because Oyen is backed by MSIG. And you are the first digital pet insurance platform in Malaysia. So how does your revenue stream work? Where does Oyen's cut come from? 

Kevin: So, to clarify the relationship we have with MSIG. We're actually an authorised intermediary for MSIG to distribute and to promote this product. They are technically our principal underwriter. In terms of revenue, we basically take a cut off the insurance premium, I think is a very standard kind of agency model except we started off as a digital platform. So, we don't have any branches, we don't have any physical agents that are going around and talking to customers. Everything is via social media, via chat and online with us. 

In three years time, we want to insure about 36,000 pets in Malaysia. I don't think that amount is crazy because that's only about 3% of market share. But we do see that this space will grow. Technically we're not a first mover, but we're a first mover from a standpoint of an end-to-end digital experience. So, you can purchase the insurance online, you can ask us questions online, you can get your certificate of insurance directly through an email, and you can submit your claims online and finally get paid directly to your bank account for the approved claims. 

Personally, I've been in the insurance industry for quite a few years and I understand the pain of  customers trying to fill out forms, you know, multiple pages of forms when you need to submit a simple claim and I want to streamline that experience so that people can experience an insurance journey like they have never experienced before. 

Arvindh: I'm going to take a guess here and say that Oyen is more than just a business for you. Like it's slightly a passion project that turned into a business. Is that safe to say, because there's a picture of you and Jon Snow on your website. So, you're obviously someone who loves pets. So forgetting about like maybe the gaps in the market and like the business reasons and stuff. What is the personal reason behind Oyen that got you here?

Kevin: That's a great question and more to my personal experience. The few things that I love. Number one is having experience working in the tech industry for a while. Previously, I was from Airbnb and then subsequently worked with a few companies in the healthcare industry and realised that technology is a great enabler for businesses.

That's the number one motivation. Secondly, it's also my experience in insurance. My family business actually have been in the insurance industry for about close to 40 years so I grew up listening to everything they talk about at home about insurance and particularly in the general insurance space. I've seen how the industry has changed over the years and realised that there's a big gap where insurance companies are lagging behind in terms of innovation, especially with where all the digital banks are going, where all the digital insurance companies are going globally.

We're still trying to innovate at a very marginal level. What I really want is to combine, one, my passion for tech and for pets, and thirdly, also my passion for insurance and see what I can make out of it. Of course, it started out initially as a project, but insurance as a whole is a $5 trillion business. In Southeast Asia, it's about $110 billion. A fragment of that is a significant business for a player.

Over time, it is to marry the use of technology into this business model. Maybe we'll go beyond pets because guess what, who are these pet owners? They themselves will be homeowners. They themselves will be young adults going into their early thirties and going into new jobs.

And there is even more opportunity for us to embed insurance into their lifestyle so that insurance is not just an afterthought, it's something that they think about and they can manage their costs easily and seamlessly with a company like Oyen.

Arvindh: Do you foresee like competition popping up to play in this very niche playground of yours? Because once you create enough awareness and once people know that there is business in this space, you could also create your own competition in the market. They could pop up in time. So, do you foresee that happening?

Kevin: I actually welcome competition because if there is a competition or there are more players coming in, it actually helps raise the overall awareness. And technically speaking, we're not the first player doing pet insurance, we're just doing it in a different way. But where we are right now is we have the edge of being young, being agile and also understanding our consumers. 

I always believe in staying true to building customer experience. When I was at Airbnb, our CEO, Brian Chesky always talked about how it's better to get a hundred customers that really love you than a 10,000 that kind of likes you. So for us right now, if you are an early customer, we want to engage with you, to understand you, to get feedback from you, to build a community because the community is your moat, right? If you have a customer that is truly loyal to you, I think that makes a lot of difference. I think that's number one.

Secondly, what we are trying to do moving forward is to build a very close relationship with our vet partners. More from a standpoint of having them as a service provider to our customers. And we want to develop an ecosystem that will actually support the pet owners and also embed insurance in their experience. 

Meaning, just like human insurance, you have a medical panel. A medical panel is a way where we can sieve out high quality vets that provide good experience or maybe for specific illnesses and to just merge them into our insurance experience where in the future, it can just be a cashless payment. Like, imagine having a medical card for your pet, like, wouldn't that be super cute?

And you can walk into any vet that is under Oyen and don't have to pay a single cent. There are a lot more things where we can build to establish ourselves as a strong player. But if competitors come in, I think we're more than happy to see them in the market. I will only be taking 3% of market share in three years, that's 97% more up for grabs. I think all of us can really contribute to bringing and lifting the pet industry in Malaysia and helping even the region as a whole.

Arvindh: What kinds of challenges are you facing at the moment at Oyen?

Kevin: As a new company, what will start to happen soon is our customers will start filing for claims. Of course, we treat every claim very, very seriously. We want to make sure that we help them process their claims fast. We pay out legitimate claims or rather our insurance company, MSIG, would pay those claims, but we will facilitate that process.

But what we also need to have over time, is data. Currently we have very limited data about the vet costs in Malaysia. But I do see that as an opportunity because the more information we get  from our pet owners and all these vet clinics, the more we can establish, how much does this procedure actually costs?

Is it right for our customer to claim this amount? And also, maybe we can recommend them to a place where it might be more cost efficient to manage certain types of diseases. That's one thing where we will start to preempt and also start to gather more data, but being in the insurance industry for so long, I always believe that providing a good claim service is the most important for us so that we can feed the loop back up to having our customers give positive feedback about us that will eventually be word of mouth to bring in more customers. 

Arvindh: Okay. Just to wrap up. You are a very new venture, so I don't know if it's the right time to ask this, but are you looking at regional expansion plans because I'm not sure what the pet care culture is like in neighbouring countries. Is there space for Oyen there and what are your growth plans for the coming months, the coming years? 

Kevin: Yeah, definitely. At the moment, we are talking to a few seed investors to raise our funding to accelerate our growth because we see the pet space and the insurance space heating up in the next few years. And coming from Airbnb, I do have certain networks and experiences in building ventures fast and also grow fast.

Regional expansion is definitely the play. Malaysia is a good market but there are larger markets out there. I think when you go to countries like Indonesia, the pet numbers, it's just staggering. Of course the pet ownership is also significantly higher in some of these countries.

I think there is certain data that shows that the Philippines has something like 80-90% pet ownership. Indonesia also has about 60- 70%. And majority cats. Hopefully with the wordplay of Oyen because Oyen is also a familiar term in Indonesia, there are plenty of opportunities for us to look into other markets.

But right now we're very, very focused in Malaysia because why talk about regional expansion when you haven't gotten your home country right? The next one to one and a half years, we'll be very much focused in Malaysia to get to that growth number.

I think we are looking at potentially by the end of next year, maybe something like 10,000 pets or so for us to hit. We're super excited about that. And potentially looking into other segments as well for Malaysia. Maybe beyond pet insurance, we could look into home insurance which is also something that is relevant for our customers who may be renters or they own a home for the first time that they don't know how to ensure that place. These are just some of the plans, but going back to my point, the focus is to get every pet insured and growing with our current customers.

Arvindh: Awesome. This has been a very interesting chat. Kevin, thanks so much for your time. 

Kevin: Thank you so much Arvindh. 

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