Hong Kong’s Fitkat is a fitness band & app with dedicated SoS button
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Photo Credit: Screenshot - Fitkat

The Fitkat Founder says the gadget kills the 10-12 second window period to alert people by mobile phone when you’re in an emergency situation

e27

Fitkat is a Hong Kong-based fitness-tracking startup developing both a physical band and custom app. The band, which will also include a dedicated SoS security button, is due to go on sale in early January following an appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The band will go on sale for a budget price of US$69.99 — that’s nearly half the cost of established players in the space such as Fitbit and Jawbone.

Cracking WhatsApp

Founded by Indian entrepreneur and China veteran Chirag Jagtiani, who has a software background at places like Accenture and Samsung, the NFC-enabled Fitkat does everything you’d expect from a fitness tracker today, including counting steps, calories, and idle time.

fitkat-band“The extra features we’ve added into Fitkat are caller ID — which none of the major [fitness trackers] except Fitbit have now — as well as notifications for email and WhatsApp. Most have WeChat or Line [notifications], but we’ve been able to crack WhatsApp,” Jagtiani told e27.

SMS and social network notifications are also available, with the caller ID feature allowing the user to see when they’re receiving an incoming call on your smartphone — though calls cannot be handled from the band as such.

Jagtiani has previously founded a successful wearables startup called spotNSave, which is a security band aimed at keeping the wearer safe and secure. This is where the idea for the dedicated SoS button came from, but now Fitkat is incorporating activity tracking as the primary function.

“We have two buttons on the device. One is a multi-function button that allows you to change the mode on screen so you can check your steps, calories, water intake, etc. The other button is a dedicated emergency button that sends a notification to five of your guardians notifying them that you’re in an emergency. The SMS or push notification will also contain your location,” Jagtiani said.

The app will be able to calculate required calorie and water intake on a daily basis, helping users hit those goals. After all, fitness and health isn’t just about burn, burn, burn. A big focus for Fitkat has been on creating a beautiful looking app that people will want to use every day.

Fit for Asia

Main markets for Fitkat in Asia will be Hong Kong, Singapore, India and Thailand (where it plans to open an office on January 8), with sales channels either through Amazon or Flipkart. The band will also be available directly from Fitkat’s website, which Jagtiani said worked well for sales with spotNSave.

“You have to tap [the SoS button] twice in quick succession; we made it accident proof… The countries we’re really aiming at, like India, we see the crime rates are actually quite high. When people are taking their jogs and happen to be wearing [the band] on a daily basis, if they think they are in an unpleasant situation they can just press the button,” Jagtiani said.

“When you’re in an emergency, you have a window of about 10-12 seconds when you need to pick up your phone, unlock it, make a call to someone and tell him/her where you are. To save all that trouble, once your device is paired with your phone, you just double tap it and automatically get help — five people know your location,” he added.

The fitness tracking space is competitive, with big brands such as Nike being forced to discontinue its FuelBand due to lack of demand. Fitkat is trying to focus on the software and app side as much as a quality hardware product, which Jagtiani believes in many cases still hasn’t been done right.

“If you’re only strong on hardware and your software sucks, then it’s purely based on luck… [But] in my case I’ve put in a lot of effort getting the software right, because that’s where the major [need is]. To be safe, both have to be done really well,” he said.

Jagtiani is not too worried about budget competitors in the Android Wear space, for example, where price points are quickly being driven down, especially from Chinese OEMs. Fitkat could potentially partner with them by offering licenses for integration so that both can benefit.

Ultimately, Fitkat sees itself as a Big Data company in the future. Health insurance is one sector that could be very interested in what the startup may one day have to offer in terms of data and metrics.

“After a few months, once we have the users, it’s all about data. We want to build ourselves as a data mining and software solutions company… Our core focus for now will be on growing the user base so we can get investors,” he said.

The startup will be looking for a sizeable seed round in 2015 worth anywhere between US$1-3 million. To date it has been self-funded off of the back of spotNSave’s success.

This post was originally published in e27

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Michael de Waal-Montgomery

About Michael de Waal-Montgomery


Michael is e27's Hong Kong-based correspondent for Southeast Asia. He is a British journalism graduate who has previously been published by The Next Web, South China Morning Post, Shenzhen Daily, Guangzhou Morning Post and The Nanfang.

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