Chinese smartphone brand OnePlus is releasing its OnePlus 2 phone in India on Tuesday and is expecting it to be a runaway success. I caught up with Pete Lau, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of OnePlus, earlier this month during RISE in Hong Kong. RISE is a tech startup conference organised by Ci Labs, the team behind Dublin-based annual startup event Web Summit.
Pete, who worked with Oppo Electronics for about a decade, launched OnePlus in December 2013. Headquartered in Shenzhen, the electronics manufacturing hub of China, OnePlus has quickly risen to become a top smartphone brand. India is said to have contributed 7% of OnePlus’ overall sales in 2014 in just one month of operations. No wonder then that Pete says India is a very important market for OnePlus. Excerpts:
YS: How big is India in your scheme of things?
Pete: India is one of the most important markets for OnePlus. Last December, we entered India and we found there are so many OnePlus fans already in India. That was much more than we expected. Next year, India will be the biggest market in the world. So it is very important.
YS: What specific plans do you have for India?
Pete: We will work with Foxconn in India this year. We will manufacture phones in India for the Indian market. Apart from China and Singapore, India is the first location with our office. We want to convert Indian consumers into high-end phone consumers. That is what we will do.
YS: Will you look beyond Amazon to sell in India?
Pete: We will continue our exclusive relationship with Amazon in India this year. We have not decided about the future.
YS: How different are Indian consumers from others?
Pete: A good product can speak globally. But we did find the black OnePlusOne very popular in India and almost nobody wanted to buy the white one.
YS: How will you expand in the future?
Pete: We have sent our product managers to India to understand what we can do specifically for the Indian market. We don’t think we need to build every app by ourselves. The important thing is to build a platform for developers to build app for our consumers. The platform will remain the same globally but content can get created specifically for each market.
YS: Why did you launch OnePlus with a global focus?
Pete: We were born international. We wanted to be a respected international company. That is why the name OnePlus.
YS: When you started OnePlus, did you think it would turn out to be the success that it is today?
Pete: There is still a long way to go. It is still early days for us.
YS: What advice would you give an entrepreneur who is just starting out?
Pete:When I launched the company all I wanted was it to become a respected company. It is very easy to be famous but very hard to be respected. Secondly, we care only about the product. The entrepreneur should only focus on the product and building the company.