Indian fitness wearable firm GOQii heads to Japan, aims for 10-mn user base

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After tapping the casual fitness enthusiast market, fitness wearable company GOQii has now chalked out an aggressive strategy to channelise its investments to launch new devices and get into newer geographies.

In late November, the four-year-old start-up, founded by Vishal Gondal, raised around $33 million from a clutch of investors, including Japanese conglomerate Mitsui & Co, which has previously backed hospital chains Columbia Asia and IHH, a Malaysian hospital chain that had acquired Fortis Healthcare earlier this year. 

Gondal is planning to take GOQii to Japan through Mitsui, as well as the store partnership with Rohto Pharmaceutical, over the next year. "Japan is a huge opportunity for us outside India. They have an ageing but healthy population with completely different needs and high healthcare costs. So, we're excited to enter there," said Gondal. An angel investor himself, Gondal had previously founded gaming company Indiagames, which was acquired by Walt Disney for around $100 million in 2011.   

GOQii is also seeking to launch a local presence across Japan and Malaysia through Mitsui as the Japanese firm has a large presence in these regions. Till date, GOQii has raised around $43 million from the likes of crypto investment firm Galaxy Digital, Denlow Investment Trust, DSG Consumer Partners, NEA, Edelweiss Financial Services, Cheetah Mobile, and Vishal Shekhar Sharma and Ratan Tata in their personal capacity, according to data from Crunchbase. 

At present, GOQii works on a fitness tracking and consultancy service model where users pay for an annual subscription to have their vitals tracked through the wearable bands. The company is also launching three new smart devices targeted towards cardiac care and diabetes care integrated with preventive doctor consultation called 'GOQii VitalECG' and 'GOQii VitalGluco', respectively. GOQii also announced 'GOQii RunGPS', a GPS and multi-sport activity tracker that is targeted at the running community. It is equipped with built-in GPS, heart rate monitor and can also track steps, distance, calories and sleep. These devices will go to market between January to March 2019.

"Currently, a bulk of our user base is between 30-50 years of age... who are into preventive healthcare. Now, we're expanding the market to an older demographic with the vital smart devices series. These are devices that even doctors are suggesting patients use for regular health monitoring," added Gondal.

The company plans to ramp up its one-million-odd user base to 10 million over the next two years. Gondal said that scaling the consumer business is a higher priority than breaking even at this point. Last financial year, the company (India) reported a loss of around Rs 200 million. In FY18, the Indian arm of GOQii reported total revenue of Rs 114.3 million, marginally up from Rs 110 million reported in the previous financial year. 

Based on a Stanford Study released in 2017, Indians are among the world's laziest and take just 4,297 steps a day. In order to get Indians active and make health a priority, GOQii announced the launch of its 'Bharat Kadam Chunauti' (India Step Challenge), a 100-days national step challenge.

The company is also seeking partnerships with public health services across the country, apart from expanding existing partnerships with insurance providers and private healthcare providers.   

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