ROV startup Chasing closes Series B raise, bets big on pool cleaning robots

According to market data, global swimming pools have sprung up in large numbers over the past few years, contributing to a boom in pool cleaning gadgets.

Chasing (潜行创新), a startup making remotely operated vehicle (ROV), has completed a Series B+ round of funding for tens of millions of yuan, backed by Zhengxi VC, Chinese tech media outlet 36Kr reported today.

Founded in 2016 in Shenzhen of southern China, Chasing is committed to developing consumer-grade and corporate-oriented underwater drones.

Its product line consists of drones for entertainment and fishing purposes as well as cleaning robots that operate beneath the water surface.

They can be found in a wide array of applications such as underwater filming and photography, aquaculture and underwater rescue, ship hull inspection, scientific exploration, environmental test and hydroelectric power.

Deal tracking services count five financing rounds closed by Chasing in the past, which roped in investors such as Shenzhen Capital Group, Huaize Zhongzhao Angel Fund, TopoScend Capital, Nanshan SEI Investment and Plum Ventures.

Boom in pool cleaning gadgets

According to market data, global swimming pools have sprung up in large numbers over the past few years, contributing to a boom in pool cleaning gadgets.

Sales of such cleaning equipment is concentrated in Western nations, where private ownership of pools tends to be high relative to elsewhere in the world.

A study by CIC, a market intelligence provider, shows that the swimming pool cleaning market worldwide was valued at US$10.25 billion in 2021.

The United States took the lion’s share of the market, with an industry size of US$4.618 billion.

The global market size is forecast to expand to US$15.28 billion by 2026, CIC says.

Products of varying sizes

Eyeing the enormous market potential, Chasing and a dozen other domestic players like Sublue (深之蓝), QYSea (鳍源科技) and Youcan Robot (约肯机器人) have doubled down on this segment, shelling out funds on R&D efforts.

In Chasing’s case, it has come up with pool cleaning and disinfection robots customized for different scenarios.

For instance, it rolled out cable-driven and cordless robots that vary in size, catering to larger commercial pool or smaller family pools.

It even released a product that is so small that it can be carried around where one goes and is thus considered suitable for beginners in waterborne activities like swimming, snorkeling or scubadiving.

Zhou Changgen, founder and CEO of Chasing, estimated that these products will hit the market in large numbers beginning this year.

80% of entire revenue

With the proceeds it generated from previous sales and fundraising, Chasing looks to scale up production further by building a 530-million-yuan (US$74.27 million) production base in Ganzhou, a city of eastern China’s Jiangxi Province.

Upon completion in late 2025, the plant will become operational and churn out power storage batteries and cleaning robots for home use.

Zhou expected the annual capacity to total 100,000 storage batteries and 200,000 robots. He explained that the company has shipped its products to more than 100 countries and regions across the globe.

Revenue from abroad now accounts for 80% of the firm’s entire income. Despite the emphasis on overseas expansion, Chasing has bet big on the domestic market, whose potential cannot be “underestimated.”

“In 2023, our domestic business volume jumped 50% compared to a year earlier, given current figures, the revenue is projected to continue to surge in 2024,” said Zhou.

He added that compared to overseas markets, China’s demand for ROVs has appreciably picked up in areas such as emergency rescue and hydroelectric power.

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Ni Tao

Ni Tao is the founder and editor-in-chief of cnrobopedia. Prior to cnrobopedia, he had a full decade of experience with a major state-run English-language newspaper as a tech reporter and opinion writer. He is also a communications specialist, having provided consultancy services to established firms like Siemens, Philips, ABinBev, Diageo, Trip.com Group (Nasdaq: TCOM, HK: 9961), Jianpu Technology (NYSE: JT) and a handful of domestic startups. A graduate of Fudan University, he writes widely about China's business and tech scenes and other topics for global publications including South China Morning Post, SupChina, The Diplomat, CGTN, Banking Technology, among others, and tries to impart his experience to students at Fudan University Journalism School, where he is a part-time lecturer. When he's not writing about robotics, you can expect him to be on his beloved Yanagisawa saxophones, trying to play some jazz riffs, often in vain and occasionally against the protests of an angry neighbor. Get in touch with him by dropping a line at nitao0927@gmail.com.

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