Settling into his new job in Hong Kong, Joel Neoh has finally found some time to talk to us about his recent career change announced on June 5.
A seasoned serial entrepreneur, Joel stepped away from Fave, the company he founded, back in March, 2023.
“As an entrepreneur, I knew that at some point, I would need to take a break,” Joel told Vulcan Post back in February.
That break lasted for about three months before he was tapped to join Prenetics, a Hong Kong-based and NASDAQ-listed genetics and diagnostic health testing company, as group chief consumer officer (CCO). This break was a lot shorter than what many expected—including Joel himself.
“Three months or even longer, no break is ever enough!” he shared.
During the break, he caught up on rest, went on a couple of trips, and organised some parties with family and friends. Never one to stray too far from the startup ecosystem, though, he also met with many company founders and helped them pro-bono on their journey.
Another person he met up with during his break was Danny Yeung, the CEO of Prenetics. To the everyday person, it might be best known as the parent company behind CircleDNA, where Joel is now the managing director (MD).
Camaraderie that goes back years
“Danny has been a close friend of mine for over ten years, since our journey at Groupon where we were both founding members in the Asia Pacific region back in 2011,” Joel pointed out.
From there, their partnership and friendship grew. In 2014, Joel became an early investor to write the very first investment cheque for Prenetics. In 2015, Danny returned the favour, being the first investor in Fave.
“We chat all the time—almost daily,” Joel shared. “And while most of it was casual, the seriousness started to bake in while having drinks at Stockton, a secret whiskey bar in central Hong Kong.”
Danny also shared about these conversations with Vulcan Post, describing them as “very natural”. Joel would talk about his future travel plans, while Danny spoke of what the future holds for Prenetics and CircleDNA.
“These conversations were many hours long and late into the evening in Hong Kong and when you have two entrepreneurs brainstorming, things get very exciting,” Danny said.
One thing led to the other, and Joel expressed that as the two entrepreneurs left the bar, they both knew they had to work together again on this journey.
“There are very few opportunities that can make a significant impact on millions of people’s lives—and I believe I’ve stumbled across one right now,” Joel said.
A personal reason
Opening up, Joel shared that the events of the past year deeply influenced his perspectives and choices, having lost his best friend, close uncle, and dear colleague.
This forced him to reevaluate his direction, prompting him to step away from the company he founded.
His loss is something he opened up about to Danny. The Prenetics CEO said, “Joel also shared how he had lost many family members due to cancer and that if he could do something about that, then it would be very meaningful for him to do so.”
The experience proved to Joel that there is no true wealth without good health. And through the talks with Danny, he knew that Prenetics and CircleDNA’s mission is to positively transform the global healthcare community.
“Thus, I made the decision to postpone my temporary plans and take on this unique and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Joel said.
Bringing decades of experience to the table
Before Joel joined the team, there was no group CCO or MD, Danny revealed. Furthermore, the Prenetics team wasn’t even looking for these roles at all.
“Both roles were specifically created for Joel as when you have an entrepreneur like Joel, you certainly would create a role just for him to lead up. […] Joel is not someone any company can hire and we are glad to partner with him for the cause.”
He continued, “Now that Joel is in this role, the sky’s the limit and I cannot be more excited for Joel to be at the helm of CircleDNA and also in the group role, working closely together.”
For the past 15 years, Joel has been more focused on building platforms and products for millions of consumers, working in media, ecommerce, and fintech realms.
But in the same time, he has also invested and dedicated time to help numerous healthtech startup founders over the years.
He said, “I am confident as I have been in regular conversations with many healthcare leaders from across the world. I like to think of them as my new mentors.”
One of those mentors is Danny, of course.
“Joel has great consumer insights,” the CEO pointed out. “He really understands the problem we are trying to solve and can come up with solutions to match it.”
He also shared Joel is great at the details and at ensuring that the proper unit economics in the business are sustainable.
Despite being new to the industry, Joel has obviously spent many years honing his entrepreneurial skills.
Joel will be taking the lead on broadening CircleDNA’s reach into the domain of preventive and personalised healthcare management.
Prenetics as a whole will be working to “reinvent the preventive healthcare landscape” through its focus on consumer health and genetics, technology for early cancer detection, and targeted therapy for cancer treatment.
Featured Image Credit: Prenetics