A Chinese unicorn-to-be without a Chinese brand/domain
April 27, 2019 (Sat). In this age of the internet when you can 'travel' to any country in an instant, traditional thinking may not work. For example, do you need to translate everything into Chinese when selling to Chinese consumers? Today's story may surprise you.
Neo Wang (王宁) was a fat boy. At college, he decided to lose weight by trying various exercises. It's tough but he succeeded, and he also discovered why many had failed: gym membership cost, inconvenient gym location, travel/shower time, and boredom when exercising alone. So, Neo combined his IT skills and fitness experience to develop a free app so that anyone can exercise – with fun and with new friends.
He launched the app in 2015. It became an instant hit and was translated into 18 languages. Today, the app has more than 160 million subscribers, including 10 million users outside China. What is its name? "Keep". "Keep" is also the English and Chinese brands of the startup and apparently the massive number of Chinese users can remember the English name. The brand inspires users to keep exercising and keep fit.
When the Keep app was launched, Neo invested about $10 to register GotoKeep.com. Early this year, Chinese news reported that Neo had acquired Keep.com, which many speculate to be worth 7 or even 8 figures. Keep.com is now the corporate domain of the startup.
What are the implications? First, you need a brand-matching .com domain to become a global player. Also, simple English words are acceptable in China and short is good as it still enables short sub-brands – for example Keep's product brands KeepKit, KeepLand, and KeepUp. Finally, the next generation of Chinese companies still prefer .com and they are willing to pay big money.