It started in China with shared bikes. Then came umbrellas anyone can borrow just by scanning a code with their phone. Then it was karaoke booths in malls. And now here we are with shared gym pods in the middle of the street.
A Chinese startup is now rolling out its “public gyms” in the capital, Beijing, just two months after the business was established. It’s aiming to have 1,000 of them across the city by the end of the year.
Misspao has already secured two rounds of undisclosed funding, reports Yicai today, with Matrix Partners among the investors. The young business is purported to be worth US$15 million already.
Its gym pods, no bigger than a generous toilet cubicle, contain a treadmill, screen, air-con, an air purifier, and a few other small fitness accessories.
So if you want an intense workout with weights and all those other hellish contraptions gyms actually have, then you’ll have to sign up for a proper, pricey gym.
You find a workout pod in the same way you get an Uber – with a dedicated app. Then you scan a QR code to activate that pod.
Users of Misspao’s public gyms pay for their time in the way pretty much everything is paid for these days in China: using Alipay or WeChat to scan a code.
It costs just US$0.03 per minute, though that might be an early promo price.
The system is a lot like the automated karaoke booths that started popping up in Chinese malls earlier this year.
China’s recent boom in app-based services that involve sharing/renting hasn’t always gone the way startups have planned. A couple of bike-sharing services have shut down after nearly all their bikes were stolen or damaged, and one umbrella startup was brought to its knees after pretty much every single brolly vanished.
Like those other startups, Misspao faces the same challenges: huge expenses, tiny fees, and the ever-present risk of malicious damage.
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