Leading Xiaomi’s Global Ex­pan­sion

Hugo Barra Vice Pres­i­dent, Xiaomi Global

HWM (Singapore) - - THINK - BY SID­NEY WONG

What chal­lenges do you ex­pect to face set­ting up op­er­a­tions in Sin­ga­pore? Be­ing an e-com­merce com­pany with a high touch re­la­tion­ship with our cus­tomers, we had to set up our lo­gis­tic ca­pa­bil­i­ties. We are work­ing with UPS and FedEx to ship our prod­ucts di­rectly from Shen­zhen to con­sumers.

Set­ting up our call cen­tre and walk-in re­pair cen­tre were also chal­lenges. Find­ing the right part­ner for the re­pair cen­tre and train­ing of the staff took a lot of time. Build­ing a so­cial me­dia pres­ence from scratch on Face­book for Sin­ga­pore is an­other key chal­lenge.

As Sin­ga­pore is our first non-Chi­nese mar­ket, we spent a lot of ef­fort lo­cal­iz­ing the prod­ucts since MIUI was cus­tom de­signed for users in Greater China. There were some fea­tures that we had to tweak, add and re­move.

Over­all, it was very chal­leng­ing as we wanted to es­tab­lish our op­er­a­tions faster than any other com­pany would and we did it in less than two months with a very small team. As Xiaomi ex­pands, is the model of col­lect­ing feed­back from users and is­su­ing weekly up­dates still sus­tain­able? It is ab­so­lutely sus­tain­able. We are go­ing to have a sin­gle in­ter­na­tional build and into that build, we will have fea­tures that are lo­cale-spe­cific. I ex­pect most fea­tures to be global, and we are go­ing to make cer­tain tweaks and launch cer­tain fea­tures for par­tic­u­lar mar­kets.

We may want to test a new fea­ture in a mar­ket and then see the re­sponse be­fore mak­ing a de­ci­sion if it is ready for ev­ery­one. We are go­ing to ex­per­i­ment a lot and we try things all the time. At times, we tried and failed mis­er­ably. We will have to cor­rect them quickly. Has Xiaomi ever con­sid­ered ven­tur­ing into the tablet space? We cer­tainly have con­sid­ered it, but we have no an­nounce­ment on this. We are think­ing of tablets and many things. We only launch a prod­uct when we know we are go­ing do a re­ally good job at it. Un­til we get to a point where we have some­thing ready, we are not go­ing to launch it.

For ex­am­ple, Redmi is the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion we built. We ac­tu­ally built an­other de­vice all the way to the end, but de­cided it was not good enough and scrapped it. How do you de­scribe the ex­pe­ri­ence of work­ing in Xiaomi for the past few months? Xiaomi is a new kind of com­pany that the world has not seen yet. You can de­scribe it in many ways, but the fact that the com­pany has 8 founders is ac­tu­ally quite spec­tac­u­lar. Each of the founders is run­ning a startup within a collection of star­tups, and they run in­de­pen­dently as fast as they can.

I have never worked in a com­pany that can build hard­ware at the speed of soft­ware, and never seen a com­pany in the world that can lis­ten to mil­lions of people and act on their feed­back. I am very im­pressed and shocked in a good way, and all my ex­pec­ta­tions have been ex­ceeded. What are your thoughts on Google sell­ing Mo­torola Mo­bil­ity to Len­ovo? I do not have spe­cific thoughts on it, but I do know that it was chal­leng­ing for Google to op­er­ate in a way where they could po­ten­tially be com­pet­ing with other part­ners. I am not sure of ex­actly why they did it, but Len­ovo ac­quired a pretty amaz­ing as­set as the new Mo­torola team is very strong.


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