Hugo Barra and Xiaomi, the $10 billion startup (Startup Asia preview)


Hugo Barra (left) and a fan girl.

Hugo Barra, VP at Xiaomi Global, will take the stage at Startup Asia Singapore 2014 this coming May 8. As a geek, you should have heard of his name. An ex-Googler, Barra took the tech media by storm in August last year when he announced his transition to Beijing-based hardware startup, Xiaomi.

The focus of this fireside chat with Barra isn’t all about his switch from Google to Xiaomi, though. More importantly, what we want to learn as entrepreneurs is how Xiaomi, a company which only released its first smartphone in August 2011, has managed to scale from zero to a US$10 billion company. To put that number into perspective, Xiaomi is worth two times more than Blackberry today.

(See: Founder Lei Jun Talks About Xiaomi, China’s Disruptive Phone-Maker )

As co-founder and CEO Lei Jun told me two years ago, Xiaomi is probably one of the fastest startups to hit the US$1 billion annual revenue mark. Just recently, its 24-hour flash sales hit about a quarter of billion dollars, a number which few companies could match. In February this year, its smartphones – Redmi and Mi3 – were also ranked among the top ten best selling smartphones in the world by Counterpoint.

Despite all the big figures and wins, Xiaomi has its own set of challenges. The Chinese startup is constantly figuring out how to build a sustainable business model as its smartphones, smart TVs, and set-top-boxes are sold at near-cost. Xiaomi also faces challenges in its expansion as it tackles the ever-fragmented Asian markets.

That’s the gist of my upcoming interview with Barra. Hear it all at Startup Asia Singapore 2014.

If you haven’t got your Startup Asia Singapore tickets yet, you can still get them now. There’s a 10 percent early-bird discount until April 24 with the EarlyBirdApril code.

Editing by Terence Lee
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