What products that were complete knock offs made more money than the original?
This is the tale of Ninebot.
Like many of the most successful companies in China, Ninebot wasn’t the birth child of invention. It didn’t come from identifying a problem and developing an innovative solution.
Rather, it was much simpler:
“Ooooh! Look at that shiny thing! So cool!”
Pauses to think.
“You know what? I bet I could make the same thing here in China… but just a little cheaper. Maybe even improve it a bit…”
I’m just glad they didn’t slap a Hello Kitty on it.
Look familiar? Segway thought so too.
It launched a lawsuit in response, but without much conviction. Segway had a much bigger problem on its mind, because, well… Segway was very, very lame. Mostly due to:
- Repeated accidents (George W Bush crashed in one)
- Association with lazy/entitled people (Ever seen Mall Cop or Arrested Development?)
- General bad luck (Segway’s owner died running his Segway off a cliff… Seriously.)
Meanwhile, Ninebot was making money hand over fist. China ate up the Segway concept, and begged for more. Soon, Ninebot was rolling out whole new product lines.
Uh, I mean, Ninebots.
Ninebot even secured 80 million dollars in funding from Xiaomi, a China electronics giant and its products began flying off the shelves. Ninebot was doing so well, in fact, that they decided to go a bit crazy and…
They bought Segway. The entire company.
Needless to say, not only is that a giant middle finger to the original company…
…that’s also the coolest way to get rid of a lawsuit.