Sharon Li & Vanessa Chen: Empowering employees to be their healthiest and most productive selves

“People sometimes think the emotional and professional are conflicting, but what we believe is when people love their organization, the emotional value will actually make them productive. It will make them give their full self to the organization and make the organization grow for the long term.” —Sharon Li, co-founder and CEO of CHOYS


Ali Fern

Ali is a member of our Business Development team focused on bridging relationships between Antler, startups, and external partners. She brings experience from her previous roles in philanthropy, technology, and data. Based in New York, Ali enjoys reading, long distance running, and spending time with her dog.

Ali is a member of our Business Development team focused on bridging relationships between Antler, startups, and external partners. She brings experience from her previous roles in philanthropy, technology, and data. Based in New York, Ali enjoys reading, long distance running, and spending time with her dog.

As the pressures and stresses of the world and everyday life intensify, employees carry a tremendous amount on their shoulders when they come to work every day. Many employers understand the connection between wellness and productivity, but lack the tools and expertise to take care of their employees’ well-being—table stakes for many GenZers in their job searches.

Enter CHOYS, a Singapore-based insurtech company that Sharon Li and Vanessa Chen founded in 2022 to empower organizations to take care of their employees holistically—from a physical, mental health, social, and financial perspective. The team raised its first funding round from Antler in Singapore and recently received a non-dilutive Rising Entrepreneurs grant from Microsoft for Startups. The grant will enable them to improve their user journey and user experience. 

Powered by data analytics, the company’s platform serves a digital Chief Wellbeing Officer, creating a benefit experience for every employee based on their personal needs. The goal of their holistic wellbeing subscription service is to create a more human, work-life culture that enhances employee impact.

“What we really want to do is transform the relationship between employer and employee,” Sharon explains. “We want employees to love their workplace, love what they do, love their team, love their boss, love their organization. As Sigmund Freud said, love and work are the cornerstone of humanness.”

Before founding CHOYS, Sharon led the Innovation Mindset team within the Chief Technology Office at Barclays, partnering with startups, universities, and governments to incubate innovative fintech solutions. A qualified Chartered Global Management Accountant and ranked in the Tech Women 100 and the Women in Fintech Powerlist in 2021, Sharon’s inspiration for founding CHOYS was deeply personal.

“My mom is a chemical engineer and inventor herself, and she got cancer in her physical workplace. And that obviously had a big impact on me. Since I was very young and I always knew I wanted to do something about it.” 

The pandemic only increased Sharon’s resolve.

“One of my best friends had to leave the organization because of a mental health issue, and that's in the virtual workplace. That suddenly made me realize that although our workplace has evolved a lot from physical to virtual, the well-being support hasn’t changed that much. We haven't really fulfilled the personalized needs of employees.”

Before launching CHOYS, Vanessa’s experience working at several tech companies and founding her first startup—a mobile solution for tourist refunds—showed her how much workplace culture shapes people.

“The workplace is such a big part of all of our lives,” she observes, “yet the way employers take care of employees really hasn't changed much in the past 30 years, right?”

A passionate proponent of diversity, equity, and inclusion, Vanessa explains, “90% of employers want to improve their employees well-being, but only 19% actually have a plan implemented due to lack of expertise and tools. The current solutions are difficult to navigate, expensive for employers, and fail to meet the evolving needs of a multi-generational and multinational workforce.” 

In a post-pandemic world, when work-life bleeds into home-life and balance is harder to achieve, Vanessa and Sharon are more energized than ever about their mission. What motivates Vanessa most of all?

“Knowing that our product could potentially help change workplace culture and also make people healthier, make their family healthier, and in a way really change society and make people's life better. And it really puts a smile on my face.”

Strength your organization and empower your employees with CHOYS’ Chief Wellbeing Officer.

Learn more about Antler’s partnership with Microsoft for Startups to support women founders everywhere.

Read Antler’s second annual ESG and Impact Report to learn how VC firms can build diverse teams and create sustainable value from the outset.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get the latest news and views from Antler’s global community

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Must-read articles from Antler

Browse our collection of founder stories, industry insights and latest startup successes from Antler Australia

See articles
5 min read
Introducing Canada's Next Big Thing: A blueprint for future entrepreneurs

Exciting news for entrepreneurs ready to leave their mark: We've launched a pivotal initiative that spotlights the diverse opportunities within Canada's thriving industries.

Our report curates pivotal problem statements from Canada's leading tech visionaries, founders, and VCs, offering aspiring entrepreneurs a pathway to impactful innovation.

Discover 20+ big opportunities pinpointed by top Canadian minds, spread across six fast-growing industries. Each challenge is an invitation to create and innovate—leading the way to the future.

We hope it will serve as a roadmap for aspiring founders ready to build tomorrow's solutions today.

5 min read
Invest in women: fast-track progress

Making progress a certainty—our north star goal at Antler—can’t happen if driven and visionary people aren’t firing at all cylinders with the support they need to tackle the pressing problems of our time. We’re marking International Women’s Day by asking women founders and team members in Antler’s global community why women are essential to progress.

5 min read
How to secure venture capital as an underrepresented founder

There is growing recognition that diverse founders and diverse teams generate more innovative solutions, ultimately building stronger businesses in the long run. Read Antler in the UK portfolio director Sarah Finegan's recent article in Startups Magazine, offering 10 tips on securing venture capital as an underrepresented founder.

5 min read
From day zero to greatness: Magnus Grimeland on the Capital Allocators podcast

How can the world tackle the increasingly complex problems of our time? With a new global infrastructure backing the most driven founders. Listen to Antler founder and CEO Magnus Grimeland discuss this—and why we're building Antler—on the Capital Allocators podcast.

5 min read
Antler expands into Queensland, Australia

Antler is charting a new course for innovation by expanding our presence in Australia. We are launching in Queensland and partnering with the Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC).

Supported by the Queensland Government's Queensland Venture Capital Development Fund (QVCDF), the partnership is poised to transform the state's innovation sector. With a focus on bridging the early-stage funding gap, Antler and QIC are committed to attracting and nurturing the nation's top talent, driving forward Queensland's position on the global innovation stage.

5 min read
Bridging startups and industry leaders to drive purposeful innovation

As Jeff Bezos once said: “What’s dangerous is to not evolve.” While most business leaders understand that stagnation is fatal, for a host of reasons established companies often struggle to innovate—purposefully and powerfully.

Antler’s Business Development and Collaborations Group helps global corporates drive innovation excellence through high value-generating collaborations with Antler’s 1,000+ (and growing) global startup portfolio. In our collaboration with Investa, a leading Australian real estate investment manager and developer, we are connecting them to our global community of founders and the cutting-edge solutions they are building.

Read more about the powerful outcomes that happen when ambitious startups and industry leaders come together.

5 min read
The next wave of innovation: 27 industry trends set to define 2024

What will innovation look like as we move deeper into 2024? What are the biggest industry trends that will define the coming year?

We asked our global network of Antler Operators—founders, sector leaders, CxOs, and VPs from companies including Roblox, Airtable, Shopify, Spotify, Affirm, DoorDash, Uber, Hubspot, and more, who offer 1:1 advice to Antler portfolio companies, giving them extra firepower to help fast-track their growth.

5 min read
Antler leads $5.1M pre-seed funding for 37 startups across Southeast Asia

This marks the highest number of pre-seed deals completed in a single round in the region.