Keep, a Chinese sports technology company, recently completed a US$127 million Series D financing round backed by Tencent Holdings, Morningside Capital, Tencent, GGV Jiyuan Capital. Goldman Sachs led the round, according to a report by our parent 36Kr.
Media reports indicated that Keep has impacted the internet fitness sector in China and is reportedly among the largest and most valuable firms in the space following this latest round. Prior to this, it had raised up to $60 million over five funding rounds. Keep will continue with its development of a content-oriented sports platform and aims to develop an internet-driven sports ecosystem, according to Wang Ning, the CEO of Keep, at a press conference in March.
Founded in 2014, Keep offers free fitness training videos and shareable workout records – essentially functioning like a fitness trainer in your pocket – which targets a broad user base ranging from young students to elderly, in contrast with other O2O gym platforms for gym users.
However, in March 2018, it commenced its foray into the gym space, having launched its first gym in Beijing, and added a smart running machine that supports twelve other languages such as Spanish, German and English to its list of hardware sales items like sportswear & other fitness equipment.
The number of Keep users has very quickly grown since inception, growing to 60 million users by October 2016, and further increasing to 140 million as of July 2018. The company claims to have an estimated 2 million international users.
China’s nascent sport & fitness industry – the one Keep is in – is brimming with opportunities, with a forecast of the industry tripling to exceed $725 billion in value by 2025, up from $216 billion back in 2016, according to The Economist.
Keep isn’t the only player in the Chinese sports & fitness sector, with examples of other fitness apps that include Yodo Run, Codoon, Hotbody, Joyrun, Daily Yoga, and Pacer.
Despite the firm being at the pre-profit stage, investors are optimistic about its prospects. Li Hongwei, the Managing Partner of GGV Capital, attributed this to the willingness of the younger generation to pursue healthier lifestyles.
In a statement, she explained: “We choose to participate in this Series D round because of the gradual pursuit of the healthy lifestyle of the new generation of young people in the trend of consumption upgrade. ”
“After three years of development, the company has evolved into an ecosystem that focuses on content, covering online courses, communities, communities, offline hardware and gyms. We believe that in the next few years, Keep will have the opportunity to become a lifestyle necessity for young people,” she adds.