iFit, a Taiwanese fitness startup and online community (not to be confused with the fitness tracking app iFit), has raised $900,000 in seed funding from Cherubic Ventures, a venture capital firm that focuses on early-stage companies in Taiwan, China, and Silicon Valley.
The company plans to use the funding to expand overseas and begin making branded products, including wearable tech devices. iFit’s goal is to become the “leading fitness community in Asia.”
The size of iFit’s seed round is unique because there are relatively few early-stage venture capital investments in Taiwan. Its background also stands out because iFit started in 2012 as a Facebook fan page. Since then, it has transitioned to a paid site with 500,000 members. More than 20,000 are based in Malaysia, where iFit says it acquired users through viral marketing and plans to set up an office by the end of this year. After Malaysia, the company wants to target Chinese speakers in Indonesia.
Last year, iFit says its e-commerce business hit $2 million. Its goal for 2014 is to make $3.5 million in revenue and grow to two million registered members. Its marketing tactics include creating content about exercise and weight loss in the form of illustrated cartoons for members to share on their social networks.
iFit’s future growth strategy include a “multi-screen” experience with content for its site, mobile apps, fitness audio books, bi-monthly magazines, and fitness TV shows. It also plans to gameify its site so members can compete against each other. The company, which is run by married couple Alice Chen and Ming-Yuan Xie, already sells branded home fitness equipment and energy snacks targeted to women. The startup is currently working with fitness companies to create more branded products and seeking a wearable tech partner.
In a statement, Chen and Xie said they had received offers from several VC firms: “We feel that Cherubic Ventures can provide us more than just capital, but also strategy and expertise that can steer us in the right direction and help us become a global company.”