[THE INVESTOR] Bagel Labs, a Korean startup that revolutionized the old-fashioned tape measure two years ago, is back.
It’s called PIE, the firm’s second-generation smart tape measure, succeeding the feature-packed model Bagel.
“It’s more simple, stylish and accurate than its predecessor,” said Bagel Labs founder and CEO Park Soo-hong, as he showed the brand new red device at the firm’s office in Pangyo, south of Seoul. “PIE makes measuring body sizes ‘as easy as pie.’”
Consumers can use PIE to measure their body size and transfer the data to its complementary smartphone apps, where they can track and analyze body changes for fitness and health purposes. “The scale doesn’t tell the whole story. The weight can fluctuate but measurements of waist or other body parts can provide more exact results on the workout progress.”
Bagel Labs founder, CEO Park Soo-hong poses with Bagel tape measure
On May 16, PIE made its debut via crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, with a starting price of US$39. Within 24 hours, it had hit its goal of US$30,000.
“We are very excited,” said Park. “Hopefully, we can sell more than 10,000 units with this one.”
His confidence is rooted in large part, due to the proven record of the first product. Bagel was a surprise hit, especially in the US and European countries where more people enjoy DIY projects. It raised US$1.35 million on a Kickstarter campaign since its launch in June, 2016, selling more than 28,000 units in over 100 countries.
Park thinks Bagel was popular because it solved a critical pain point. The idea came from his own experience.
“For a long time, I used tape measures for my studies and work, and I thought how inconvenient it was to make the measurements, then write them down, then measure again,” said Park, who studied mechanical engineering at Johns Hopkins University and received a PhD from University of Cambridge.
‘Then I realized a digital tape measure could change all this, and make lives much easier. That’s when I left my job.”
Park worked for four years at Samsung Corning before establishing Bagel Labs.
Despite his initial success, the 33-year-old CEO says there is still a long way to go. “Our goal is to innovate the way we measure size.”
Bagel Labs' PIE tape measure
Park believes body measurements will become prized data in the future, especially in the fashion business and e-commerce as more and more people shop online. So the information is crucial for both customers and retailers.
With the data, Bagel Labs wants to create a new platform.
The company has partnered with a Japanese online apparel shop, where users receive a digital measuring tape upon joining the website and use the measurements to shop, helping them find a perfect size, while the firm can drastically reduce the return rate. Bagel Labs is also in talks with Korean fashion company Handsome, a unit under Hyundai Department Store, to provide body measurement services for customers.
Ultimately, he hopes to create a generic login tab, with which people can use Bagel Labs account to log into other fashion websites, just like Facebook, Google, or Kakao and Naver here. “Users can tap into their body measurement data from Bagel Labs to shop online at other websites,” said Park.
Bagel Labs is seeking to raise up to US$ 2 million in Series A rounding within this year. It had already received 100 million won (US$92,400) of angel funding from FuturePlay, and another 300 million won seed round from a KOSDAQ-listed IT firm.
“Fundraising will start within three months, after the sales figure for PIE comes in,” said Park.
By Ahn Sung-mi (email@example.com)