Business

Chinese investors like clone makers: PICOOC picks up $21M Series B

Above: PICOOC's Latin is a smart scale much like the Fitbit Aria.

Image Credit: PICOOC video
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PICOOC, the Beijing, China-based health-tracking device maker, has finished a Series B round of funding that raised $21 million, led by existing investor Gobi Partners and joined by Tencent and JD.com.

The company’s flagship product is Latin, a Fitbit Aria-like smart scale. The team was developing a couple of more products when I visited it last September.

The scale is sold for RMB449 ($72) on JD.com and has joined JD+, the smart hardware incubation program run by the leading Chinese online retailer.

JD+ offers services ranging from Cloud storage to marketing support and also makes investments in some products they think promising. Before PICOOC, JD had invested in Broadlink, a Smart Home WiFi solution developer and consumer-facing product maker that has reached deals with smart device maker Xiaomi and Chinese traditional home appliance manufacturers.

JD also has a site devoted to smart hardware, launched much earlier than Amazon’s, that boosted sales for many such as Misfit Shine.

PICOOC isn’t the only product in China that is similar to Fitbit Aria. Another well-known player, RySmart, has not only cloned Aria but also some other Fitbit products.

Like what has been happening in China, investors don’t care whether they are copycats. RySmart has disclosed a Series A round of funding for an undisclosed amount. It is rumored that investors in RySmart include Cai Wensheng, the legendary Chinese angel investor.

Earlier this month Fitbit’s own products officially landed in China. Like everyone else, Chinese or not, its products are available on JD.com and FunTalk retail stores — so it’s equally convenient for Chinese users to purchase. Also, Fitbit ones are sold in Apple retail stores.

The core competence of Chinese products is always price. Fitbit Aria is more than twice the price of Latin and Ryfit, the scale made by RySmart. I heard that those Chinese players were to lower their prices even further.

But when it comes to health products, it’s hard to say price is powerful at all. There’re at least two mentalities in China in favor of Fitbit: (1) The higher the prices, the better — particularly when it comes to medical and healthcare products; (2) High-tech brands from Western developed countries are generally better than the local ones.

This story originally appeared on TechNode.


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