Manu Jain hints at setting up R&D centre for Xiaomi in India in the near future

20th Oct 2014
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First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

-Mahatma Gandhi

Whether you love them or hate them, Xiaomi cannot be ignored. The ‘startup’, which is into its fourth year since inception, has disrupted the mobile market in a phenomenal way. When the company was in its infancy, many people were amused with what Xiaomi was trying to do -- sell high-end smartphones at almost 50% of their market prices with zero investment in marketing and no brick and mortar stores. But the scenario has changed drastically now and almost all of Xiaomi’s strategies seem to be working out for them.

Shradha Sharma, Founder of YourStory, had a Fireside chat with Manu Jain, Indian Head of Xiaomi at the TechSparks Grand Finale held at Leela Palace on October 18, to discuss about topics like scaling up, Xiaomi’s marketing strategy, and future plans.

What is Xiaomi?

Though Xiaomi is well known now in India, there are still widespread misconceptions about what Xiaomi is at its core, with many considering it to be just a phone manufacturer. Manu Jain, addressed the elephant in the room and reiterated what Hugo Barra had confirmed earlier toYourStoryXiaomi is a mobile technology, internet technology & e-commerce company, not so much a handset company.

Market Validation

Xiaomi’s philosophy is to build what they think consumers want, not what they want to sell.

Manu Jain went on to explain how Xiaomi had taken a public poll of sorts, which included opinions from the general public as well as their MIUI forum and figured out what kind of features their audience was looking for in their devices.

To Xiaomi, being a fan centric company matters more than being a brand centric company.

Demand and supply

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Though Xiaomi smartphones have sold like hotcakes -- getting sold out within seconds on Flipkart -- the company has faced some flak from customers who have not been successful in purchasing their phones.

Manu Jain stated that Xiaomi had sold approximately seven million handsets in the year 2012 and will be selling 60-70 million in 2014. It is currently selling about 100,000 phones a week in India, which is a staggering 10x time growth since they started India operations. They are still ramping up rapidly to meet demand.

Q&A session with the audience

The Q&A session with the audience was really entertaining with questions being fired from left, right and center.

One gentleman joked that even though he was unable to book the elusive Mi3 he was somehow able to get his hands on the Xiaomi power bank, which was a consolation prize for him.

Another audience member had a business proposition for Manu Jain and asked if he could place an order for 1000 Mi3 devices, which he needed for his development projects.

Future Plans

Manu Jain hinted that Xiaomi is currently planning to set up an R&D centre here in India and also exploring the possibility of manufacturing their phones in India.

“We are a startup with a small lean team based out of Bangalore. Our plans change frequently on the basis of feedback that we hear from Mi fans,” said Manu Jain

Here is the list of top 30 technology companies that showcased at TechSparks. For complete Techsparks coverage, click on#tsparks

A big thanks to all the sponsors and partners for supporting TechSparks 2014 – Sequoia CapitalAWSIntelDSOAVerisignStanford IgniteTargetIntuitBrand Capital and Ola.

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