Book Title: Xiaomi: How a Start-up Disrupted the Market and Created a Cult Following
Author: by Jayadevan PK.
As a fan of Steve Jobs and the iPhone, Lei Jun, the co-founder of Xiaomi, could clearly see that smartphones were the future. He launched the Xiaomi brand in Beijing in April 2010 at a time when the smartphone industry the world over was in upheaval. Just about three years earlier in 2007, Apple Inc had disrupted the industry with the launch of the iPhone. Lei had initially launched the brand in the form of an Android-based operating system called MIUI.
Within years of its launch, Xiaomi earned for itself prime position as a distinguished Chinese brand. Its high specifications and low-price feature immediately hit a sweet spot among the price-sensitive yet brand-conscious consumers in China. By 2013, barely two years after it sold its first smartphone, Xiaomi shipped 10 million devices. In 2014, Xiaomi became the largest selling smartphone in China. It was the time when Lei realised that time had come to enter new markets.
For the international operations, he roped in Hugo Barra as vice-president of Xiaomi Global. Barra had worked as vice-president of Android product management at Google in the US.
The company had started making news outside China ever since Barra joined Xiaomi. But the name Xiaomi itself proved to be a source of confusion among non-Chinese users. For those who were unfamiliar, it was hard to pronounce. Thus, in 2014, Xiaomi’s founders decided to shorten its name to Mi as a way to increase brand awareness. Mi, they said, was shorthand for Mobile Internet. For global aspirations, the company first entered the Singapore market and the rest is history.
In June 2014, Xiaomi hired Jabong co-founder Manu Jain to head the India operations. It sold its first 10,000 handsets in just two seconds on Flipkart. As demand grew following the two-second sellout, Xiaomi chartered planes to transport inventory from China to India.
In August 2015, Xiaomi set up its first manufacturing unit in India in Andhra Pradesh. In late 2019, it claimed that nearly 99 per cent of the phones it sold in India were made in India.
In July 2019, about nine years after it was established, Xiaomi became the youngest debutant on the Fortune 500 list. It was no small feat for a company outside of the Silicon Valley. Driven by the philosophy of ‘Innovation for all’, Xiaomi has created a cult following as it offers high-end features at relatively low prices.
Eleven years down the line, Xiaomi has become a household name. As of November last year, Xiaomi was the world’s third-largest smartphone brand, selling in over 80 countries. In the first six months of 2020, Xiaomi sold goods and services worth over $15.7 billion and reaped a profit of $862 million.
In this highly engaging book, the author, Jayadevan PK, reveals the story of how a startup scaled up and became successful by remaining customer-centric and working on the feedback. It is an essential read for students, startups and young entrepreneurs.