Xiaomi eyes ru­ral In­ter­net star­tups

The Pak Banker - - COMPANIES/BOSS -

BEI­JING: Lei Jun, the founder and CEO of Xiaomi Corp, says China's ru­ral ar­eas are bust­ing with op­por­tu­ni­ties for in­no­va­tion and en­trepreneur­ship in the IT in­dus­try.

Speak­ing at a news con­fer­ence in Bei­jing on Mon­day, he added that the com­pany also has a great de­sire to de­velop the coun­try's vir­tual re­al­ity tech­nol­ogy sec­tor.

"In­ter­net busi­nesses run from ru­ral ar­eas will be the next big thing af­ter the mo­bile In­ter­net and will bring China golden op­por­tu­ni­ties over the next 10 years," Lei said.

High­light­ing what he called the coun­try's grow­ing num­ber of "uni­corn com­pa­nies"?the tech star­tups val­ued at more than $1 bil­lion each, he said the ex­pand­ing 4G net­work has al­ready con­nected many pre­vi­ously re­mote ar­eas via smart­phone, the use of which is be­com­ing com­mon­place across the coun­try, even in the re­motest ar­eas.

"This means the coun­try­side can skip the pop­u­lar­iza­tion of PCs al­to­gether, and move di­rectly into the mo­bile In­ter­net era," said Lei, whose com­pany has de­vel­oped much of China's best home­grown smart­phone tech­nol­ogy.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port by the China In­ter­net Net­work In­for­ma­tion Cen­ter, there are 195 mil­lion In­ter­net users in ru­ral China, or 28.4 per­cent of the na­tional to­tal. That equates to one In­ter­net user in ev­ery three vil­lagers.

"China has a large ru­ral pop­u­la­tion. As the In­ter­net be­comes an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant part of th­ese peo­ple's lives, it also pro­vides op­por­tu­ni­ties for in­vest­ment, en­trepreneur­ship and em­ploy­ment," said Lei.

As a lead­ing an­gel in­vestor, Lei said he has per­son­ally in­vested in sev­eral ru­ral start-ups which base their busi­ness on the In­ter­net. And th­ese star­tups are de­vel­op­ing fast.

He gave one ex­am­ple of a firm, set up just a year and a half ago, which has a monthly rev­enue of more than 500 mil­lion yuan ($76.8 mil­lion).

The in­spi­ra­tion be­hind many in­no­va­tions, he said, has been find­ing ways of nar­row­ing what he called the ur­banru­ral gap, the most com­mon be­ing the de­vel­op­ment of mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tions spe­cially de­signed for young peo­ple liv­ing in the coun­try­side, who of­ten have dif­fer­ent needs for their smart­phones than those in cities.

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