The Chinese demand for plastic surgery is so big that people probably speculate as to whether it’s been pumped full of silicone
A Beijing-based startup that’s a marketplace for plastic surgery and a social network for nip-and-tuck recipients secured a hefty $50 million financing round on Monday. SoYoung – be advised before you click, the homepage has some boobs – is now valued at upwards of $460 million, and the startup saw WeChat parent company Tencent take an interest in its latest round.
News of the fundraising was reported by Bloomberg, which says the site manages some 60,000 plastic surgery orders in China each month.
A sizable market
The Chinese demand for plastic surgery is so big that people probably speculate as to whether it’s been pumped full of silicone.
According to the BBC, the industry is valued at more than $60 billion and is expected to double by 2019. The field used to be dominated by Korean firms offering surgeries to vacationing Chinese tourists – an elite group who could not only afford the surgery, but also the visa. More recently, a wave of Chinese plastic surgery outlets have opened throughout the country.
SoYoung follows in the footsteps of Yuemei, a similar startup that got series A funding last year.
Both companies help plastic surgery seekers find clinics across China, share reviews, and serve as social networks for people interested in such operations.
On SoYoung, the social aspect has a big appeal. Users upload daily post-surgery photos, develop profiles, and browse other users’ results, oftentimes asking for tips.
Take this profile spotted on the front page. At the top, the user – named “Pig Beauty,” from Hangzhou, who had a nose job – rates her surgery 5/5 for satisfaction, and 1/5 for swelling, pain, and scarring.
Users can check out where she got the surgery, see other people who have had similar procedures there, and leave comments. Although I admit I didn’t browse every entry on the site, those that I did see all featured very positive comments.
Learning from Alibaba
The company’s website bares more than a passing resemblance to Tmall, Alibaba’s upscale version of Taobao. Except instead of small icons of TVs and smartphones, the navigation menu has small noses and boobs.
Some of the products listed on SoYoung are frighteningly cheap, sold through flash sales that expire on tight deadlines. Injectable face cream for 70 bucks? I’d read those reviews pretty thoroughly.
According to Bloomberg, SoYoung is aiming to use its hefty new investment to enlist hundreds of clinics and thousands of doctors onto its service. Based in Beijing, the startup already has users there and in Shanghai, but is looking to expand. Tencent will use WeChat to reach out to potential users throughout the country via targeted ads – but it might be some time before you can order plastic surgery through your favorite chat app.
Editing by Steven Millward
This post was originally published on Tech in Asia.
Featured image credit: Wikipedia