GoQii Gets $13.4 Mn In Funding
Moving into China now, GoQii will partner with hardware providers such as Xiaomi and set up the coaching system that makes up the core of the service
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It’s typical for those who use fitness trackers to dump them unceremoniously after a period of use. Quickly bored with counting steps and measuring heart rate, users lose steam leaving their trackers dead in the drawer. “Which is why thinking of fitness trackers in terms of hardware is the wrong approach,” says Vishal Gondal, CEO and co-founder of GoQii Inc and of Indiagames.
GoQii is a wearables startup but with an offering that has an important element – coaching. The GoQii fitness band itself is incidental and the coaching solution works with other fitness devices such as FitBit. Now, the startup has received $13.4 million or Rs 90 crores in Series A funding from leading global venture firm NEA (New Enterprise Associates). Other investors include China’s Cheetah Mobile, Great Wall Club, DSG Consumer Partners and others. It plans to strengthen its success in India and move into the US and China markets. Gondal will not disclose how many users GoQii currently has in India other than that they are “huge” but says that a million is the company’s next milestone. “There are many cheaper bands available,“ says Gondal, “But still people choose our offering because of the unique solution it offers. In India we have totally validated the coaching model and we now want to scale.”
The GoQii band itself is free and it’s the coach that a user pays for, approximately Rs 3,000 for a 3-month period or around Rs 6,500 for an annual package. Each user is assigned a coach who uses the data recorded in the GoQii app to give suggestions, advice and goals. The coach is available on chat as well as via video conference when required.
GoQii is pilot testing its service in the US with around 1,000 users and is now ready for the consumer launch in Q1 of 2016. In the US, it is the Apple Watch, of course, that is very popular. Does this pose a challenge to GoQii? “We already do work with Apple’s HealthKit,” says Gondal, “Our focus is just not the hardware and in India we have had a hardware base because there were not very many others providing it, but in other markets we may not have the hardware at all and focus on the service. Other apps can connect to our platform and the data can be accessed by the coach who can then help the user.”
Many other fitness trackers are doing algorithm based coaching or giving tips, but the coaching model is rarer and Apple, according to Gondal, has not partnering with any other provider for such a service, giving GoQii an opportunity that is potentially quite large. While there are active users who are self-driven and keep up both exercise and diet without any assistance, there are also passive users who are concerned about their health but need constant motivation and prodding to get down to doing what they must. GoQii coaches are also able to give highly personalised advice that is difficult to get from any automated solution or artificial intelligence, such as assessing a slight injury and being able to tell the user whether to exercise or take a break, for instance. “An algorithm can tell you, for example, that you’re not walking these past few days, but it can’t figure out that you’re not feeling very well. Your coach can and will probably advise you not to walk,” says Gondal.
Moving into China now, GoQii will partner with hardware providers such as Xiaomi and set up the coaching system that makes up the core of the service. This will mean scouting for local experts and fine tuning the service for cultural differences.