Fast-Growing Startup Transforming the World of Diving

Fast-Growing Startup Transforming the World of Diving

What you need to know

10 questions with Deepblu.

Deepblu is a Taipei-based startup overhauling the experience of divers worldwide. Co-founder and chief executive James Tsuei (崔典楨) discusses the company’s rapid growth and the challenge of shaking up an industry that is stuck in its ways.

The News Lens International (TNLI): Can you briefly describe what Deepblu does?

James Tsuei: Deepblu is about utilizing innovation and technology to revolutionize diving experience and enhance the diving lifestyle. Our products are the cloud-based ocean and diving social platform and COSMIQ dive computer that focuses on diving athleisure and services relating to marine and ocean industries.

TNLI: What is the origin of Deepblu? How long did it take for you to launch your product since establishment?

Tsuei: It started when I first met my two co-founders whom at the time were working on a dive computer prototype that could work and “sync” with a smartphone app to create digital dive logs. I saw the product as the perfect starting point to build and grow an Internet social network platform that could bring divers around the world together, and hence Deepblu was created.

It took us about six months from getting the COSMIQ from prototype stage to production ready. We launched in April this year at the ADEX expo. However, our Deepblu online platform, which first started out as a utility app for our COSMIQ Dive Computer with some social media functions, has been a work in progress; and we are very excited to launch the 2.0 Deepblu platform Beta this December. It will include major enhanced features such as a news aggregator for divers, activity feeds from dive buddies and dive industry celebrities or NGOs they follow, a digital dive log archive that has thousands of photo and video integrated media-rich dive logs, an online discussion forum community and a whole new way for divers to explore dive site information as well as plan out their dive trips which we call Planet Deepblu.

TNLI: What is the target market in terms of age and nationality?

Tsuei: We target divers and ocean enthusiasts worldwide, by revitalizing dive experiences and offering divers and people that are passionate about the ocean an online home to create meaningful relationships and interact based on their core interest – the ocean.

TNLI: What is the current status of the company, including the scale, employees, user numbers and their nationalities?

Tsuei: We’re a fast growing company and have tripled in size in the past six months. Our plan is to surpass 100 people by next year. Most of our staff (from admin, HR, engineers and industrial designers) are certified divers from Open Water to Instructor level. We’re a motivated, international collective of minds driven by a desire to make a positive, revolutionary contribution to the diving industry and ocean conservation. Our users have quickly grown over 10,000 from scratch in a little over seven months and our target is to reach 200,000 users by end of the next year.

TNLI: Do you have any competitors in Taiwan? What makes Deepblu different from other waterproof device businesses?

Tsuei: We don’t think of ourselves as competing with or against anything or anyone. At first glance, Deepblu might appear to be a hardware company making dive computers, but in reality we are taking a few elements from that market and combining them with our abilities in the tech and Internet industries to create an entirely new approach and direction. Deepblu is much more focused on data, the diving community and the Internet, rather than hardware itself. We feel that all devices will continue to evolve and create its own space in the diving industry, but our focus is on creating an online community for divers.

TNLI: What does Deepblu regard as its most successful achievement up-to-date?

Tsuei: I think it would definitely be the great amount of encouragement and positive feedback we have received from our users validating our direction in doing things differently in the diving industry is the right one. These range from appreciation from our app users on how quickly we implement their app improvement suggestions into new release updates, to COSMIQ customers giving us thumbs up for how quickly we handle customer service cases; also how quickly we implement new COSMIQ Dive Computer functionality through our “Over The Air” firmware updates completely free. The diving industry being a vertical niche, in my opinion, has evolved very slowly in many areas leaving the end-users or customers with the short end of the stick. Our goal is to bring change to all areas we are involved with so we can help advance the overall customer and user experience.

TNLI: What have been the biggest challenges for Deepblu so far? How did the company solve the problems?

Tsuei: It’s not easy to overhaul an industry with strong ties to how things were yesterday instead of what things can be like tomorrow. But I would say the biggest challenges we have encountered is recruiting because it’s not easy to find the right talent fit that also has previous experience in diving. Whether it is an experienced programmer or a marketing team member with a past life in social media and at the same time has a strong passion for the ocean. So we have a company program to sponsor any new recruit that isn’t a certified diver to get their license and experience why the rest of us are so passionate about what we do.

TNLI: How does Deepblu promote itself in the foreign market?

Tsuei: We’re a diverse group with an international background, so penetrating foreign markets comes naturally. We’re now working on localization of the platform in multiple languages in order to better serve the international market. Also, the power and advancements of digital marketing and technology have been considerable assets to our development.

TNLI: How does Deepblu plan to grow in the future and achieve in the long-term?

Tsuei: We’re a very young company and are just about to roll out our main product, the Deepblu platform, so there is plenty of room for long-term growth as long as we continue with the momentum and drive that has brought us to where we are today.

TNLI: What are the company’s most exciting upcoming products or plans?

Tsuei: We just announced a string of new additions within the Deepblu ecosystem – our Deepblu 2.0 online platform is a social network aimed to connect the diving community. The all new COSMIQ+ Noir and Lumin lines product roll out, as well as our cooperation with William Winram as our brand ambassador and working with his NPO – The Watermen Project, to promote shark conservation.

Editor: Edward White