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China’s fastest growing unicorn APUS has its sights set on India

Sindhu Kashyap
20th Dec 2016
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While the ‘tigers’ of the world appear to be in slumber, the Chinese dragons have been bullish about targeting India. Players like Baidu, LeEco, and now APUS are looking at India as a strategic global market.

Last year, APUS Group was in the news for launching a $45-million investment fund for early-stage startups in India.

This June, the company claimed to have reached revenues of $15 million. With over 920 million users worldwide, APUS has a strong user base in India, Southeast Asia, South America, Africa, and Russia. This accounts for over 95 percent of its user base outside of China.

According to the 2015 APUS Global User Report, APUS witnessed a 250 percent increase in users between January and December 2015. By the end of 2017, APUS aims to have 1.5 billion users on its apps across the world.

Founder-and-CEO-of-APUS---Li-Tao
Founder and CEO of APUS Li Tao.

Increased India focus

Early this November, APUS Founder and CEO Li Tao had come to India, and in his chat with YourStory, had explained how the company is looking to grow and expand its operations in India. He had said,

“One of the purposes of the visit is to increase partner interactions in India. It is one of our largest markets, and we feel there is a need to focus deeper into India.”

However, India, he feels, has a long way to go. China has deeper internet penetration. Nevertheless, there are a lot of similarities between the two markets.

Growing similarities

“Both nations have a huge population of over 1.3 billion and the economic growth is fast — China is at 6.5 percent and India at 7.8 percent. It, therefore, makes sense to focus on India as much as China,” says Li Tao.

APUS has over 50 million users in India, and with further development and focus on India, the number of users is likely to increase.

“From this coming year onwards, APUS is looking at building a global APUS ecosystem. In India, specifically, we intend to use our technology, products, and capital to help the local companies grow. The focus is more on content and services for the next two years. We will also focus on startups that are in the content domain,” adds Li Tao.

Li believes that there will be a growing usage of smartphones in developing countries. Secondly, the team is now focused on acquiring new smartphone users rather than educating old users.

Building an APUS ecosystem

“Thirdly, our products fully meet the requirements of users who often find their Android smartphone complicated to use, or running slowly after a period of use. The APUS user system is simpler and easier,” says Li. In content systems, the team is focused on news, videos, apps, games, and other services. The team is also aggressively looking at local services like payments, e-commerce, and O2O services.

The idea, Li says, is to provide the user with a great internet service. Once he or she is connected, they can consumer news, videos, games, manage social media, and buy and pay online. This, he adds, has already been executed successfully in China, and the idea is to replicate this in the India market.

Li shared that APUS User System is a suite of products which includes search, messenger centre, booster, browser, and APUS Know. The all-in-one service that it provides to users means it has high stickiness, which is important for it acting as a gateway (or portal) for traffic.

At present, the company is valued at $1.5 billion and has received $116 million in two rounds of investments. The names of investors include Chengwei Capital, SIG, Qiming Venture Partners, Redpoint Ventures, and Northern Light Venture Capital.

In the first stage of its revenue strategy, APUS partnered globally with Facebook, Amazon, Yahoo, Twitter, and Google to drive engagement and monetisation on its platform. Working with Huawei and Meizu in China, APUS has partnered with unicorns including InMobi and Ola in India and Yandex in Russia.

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