Chinese home fitness startup Fiture raises USD 6 million from Sequoia Capital China

The fitness industry has taken China by storm and it’s known for being able to produce hardware at low cost.

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Chinese fitness startup Fiture has just completed its first round of financing, raising RMB 42 million (USD 6 million). The investment was led by Sequoia Capital China, the storied VC firm that once also invested in the likes of Didi, Alibaba, and Meituan.

Fiture’s new financing will be mainly used for the development of hardware, software, and content, the co-founders of the company Tang Yuxi and Fu Qiang said in a statement.

Fiture is one of the latest Chinese startups giving consumers an intelligent fitness experience in their own homes.

Combining hardware, AI, and downloadable content, Fiture aims to turn your living room into a private athletic studio. Its product line consists of two devices. The first is essentially a TV-like screen hung on a wall, equipped with adjustable arms, handles, and such. This all-in-one equipment is focused on all-body physical strength training via self-study fitness courses.

The second device resembles a mirror with an interactive display. Its content is designed for aerobic training, yoga and pilates classes for which you only need a mat.

Fitness and the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle is growing in popularity among Chinese consumers. Coupled with the constant development of AI technology and its applications in many sectors, it was only a matter of time before these two concepts came together in an intelligent fitness product.

AI comes to a play in monitoring the users’ progress and giving feedback.

Cameras installed at the top and bottom of the screen monitor and identify the user’s gestures and posture. Thanks to the intelligent computer sensor, and in combination with the user’s data, Fiture’s devices can give real-time fitness movement correction, fitness postures safety, as well as real-time feedback.

Using the recorded data, the devices provide users with customized training courses and diets, reportedly developed by top personal trainers in professional recording studios, to fit the user’s skill level and needs. The company does not yet specify whether there will be further pricing for individual lessons or if it’s package-based.

The startup is still in the testing period and plans to launch its products, each rumored to be priced at more than RMB 10,000 [roughly USD 1,400], at the end of this year.

Not the first to do so

The pioneers of devices in this category come from the US. Fiture’s screen-like device resembles Tonal, founded in 2015, which is also a TV screen-like device combined with a machine for full-body workouts and smart fitness guidance. It costs nearly USD 3,000 [roughly RMB 21,000] and requires a subscription for USD 49 per month. The company has just raised more than USD 90 million in its latest round of funding.

Fiture’s mirror-like device seems to be inspired by a New York-based startup called Mirror. It was launched last year in September and sells for USD 1,500  [roughly RMB 10,500] with a required subscription of yoga or pilates classes priced at USD 39 per month.

The fitness industry has taken China by storm in the past few years, with the fitness market seeing a flood of exercise-focused apps and devices.

Although it is not a first tech-based fitness product to hit the Chinese market, Fiture’s devices are among the few that are applying AI technology to deliver personalized workouts.

Other companies employing intelligent technology, such as image recognition solutions, include MyShape, Fitmate, and CoachAI.

Popular apps, such as Codoon, Joyrun, Keep, and Daily Yoga, deliver online training courses, track user’s data and exercise progress, and allow users to join live streams from fitness trainers.

The home fitness industry is also of interest to some Chinese tech giants. Xiaomi, which is chiefly known as a phone brand, has recently launched its latest lifestyle product—the WalkingPad, a foldable treadmill. It was introduced this month as a cheaper and lighter alternative to a popular device called XiaoQiao, which is produced by Shanghai Wen-Jia Industrial.

In 2017, more than 54% of the Chinese population was in the unhealthy range, or less than a healthy state, according to the report released by the State Council. At the same time, the value of China’s fitness industry grew at an average annual rate of 10.4% between 2013 and 2018, according to the data by IBISWorld.

Whether Fiture’s products will enjoy popularity among Chinese consumers is yet to be seen. First reactions from Chinese netizens are mixed. While some praise the attempt to bring a professional gym into homes, others criticize that the latest models of fitness products on the market have been “blindly copying” American counterparts. Some netizens have questioned if the founders really understand the specifics of the Chinese market.