Chinese smartphone and appliances maker Xiaomi Corp. plans to launch at least six smartphone models in India this year, open 100 exclusive stores, release more new product categories in the near term and build out a big, non-smartphone business from its new range of televisions.
In an interview, Xiaomi global vice-president and India head Manu Kumar Jain said the Chinese firm, which has been a prolific investor in India’s rapidly-growing start-up ecosystem in recent times, will look to write a mix of small and large cheques to acquire stakes in software and internet start-ups over the next 12 months, while increasing the pace of its investments over the next few years, as part of its broader strategy to invest $1 billion in Indian ventures.
“Our journey in India has just started. We can achieve a lot more on every front,” said Jain, who was elevated to a global role last year.
Under Jain’s watch, Xiaomi has crossed $1 billion in revenue in India and is set to cross the $2-billion mark soon, although Jain declined to give a time frame on when the company expects to hit that milestone.
Jain did not specify how many start-up investments the company will make over the next 12 months, but the company’s five-year target suggests the Chinese firm will look to back an average of nearly two dozen start-ups annually over the next 4-5 years.
So far, Xiaomi and its sister company, Shunwei Capital, has backed 10 internet start-ups in India, with the most recent being investments in ShareChat and KrazyBee.
“I really hope we can increase the pace (of investments) and invest in a lot more companies,” said Jain.
“India is changing drastically. We really believe that India will become hugely digital in the next five years and we want to help promote that. We would want to increase the pace of investments to support these Indian companies. In India, we started with smaller investments...but if there’s a need, we can do bigger ticket sizes.”
In a November interview, Xiaomi founder Lei Jun had pledged to invest at least $1 billion in 100 Indian start-ups over the next five years to create an ecosystem of apps around its smartphone brand.
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