Shenzhen-based new tobacco startup YouMe raised a RMB 73 million (USD 10.65 million) Series A financing round at an unknown valuation, reports tech news outlet Iyiou.
Founded by former Apple manufacturing employee Chen Chaoxian, and with an R&D team made up of Xiaomi and Huawei alumni, YouMe produces non-combustion-based cigarettes and tobacco oil, taking after leading new tobacco manufacturers IQOS and Juul.
YouMe’s product line includes the Suorin e-cigarette device — a Juul copycat available in overseas markets and among the top-three best-selling e-cigarette devices in the US.
Now the company is turning its attention homeward. In April, it launched the YouMe Jingyangbao (clean cigarette device), a “heat, not burn” device similar to IQOS products that vaporize regular cigarettes at 315℃, giving smokers the same dose of nicotine and a similar tobacco flavor profile as conventional cigarettes, but without the combustion and smoke.
As the world’s largest tobacco market, China presents a substantial opportunity to homegrown companies like YouMe. The country is home to 350 million smokers, and yet e-cigarette penetration stands at less than 1%, far lower than the 13% in the US. New tobacco is a rising industry in China, with sales reaching RMB 40 billion (USD 5.8 billion) in 2017, and growth wavering between 20% and 30% ever since, according to data cited by Iyiou.