Alibaba Group is indirectly moving into lifestyle and fitness with the Alibaba Taiwan Entrepreneurs Fund II leading an RMB 100 million B Round in gym operator Space Cycle, which describes itself as a premium boutique fitness brand. The fund helps entrepreneurs expand via the Alibaba ecosystem and the money will be invested in new studios and Space Cycle’s online platform and offline-to-online presence.

The Space Group has been running yoga studios in China since 2005 and Space Cycle moved into mainland China last year and has six studios in Beijing, Shanghai and Taipei. As has proved popular in the US, Space Cycle uses technology to mix entertainment with group fitness. The gyms stream specially devised playlists from music platforms in Greater China, studio software controls lighting and sound and even video-mapping. Instructors are also trained in how to use music in classes and engaging with users via social media.

The Alibaba Taiwan Entrepreneurs Fund is a not-for-profit project set up in Taiwan in 2015 to support local young entrepreneurs and graduates. The initiative provides access to investment capital and mentorship. The intention is that the entrepreneurs use this support, then through the Alibaba ecosystem gain a foothold across the Straits on the mainland and the rest of the world.

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Frank Hersey

Frank Hersey is a Beijing-based tech reporter who's been coming to China since 2001. He tries to go beyond the headlines to explain the context and impact of developments in China's tech sector. Get in...