Vietnam’s leading mobile content distribution platform, Appota, has been able to secure funding and expand operations in a very short time. One of the few successful startups from Vietnam, it was fostered at the incubator Topica’s Founder Institute, in 2011. it has successfully raised funds in Series A and B financing rounds in the past two years.
The company, which is now eyes the ASEAN region and has opened an office in Indonesia, believes that one should “Think Global, Do Local”.
Duc Nguyen – Appota’s head of communications, spoke to DEALSTREETASIA about the firm’ s journey that began with the founder’s passion for technology.
The persistence in the field led him through six failed startups and various development stages as an entrepreneur; finally, attracting immense investor interest in the new venture.
Excerpts from the interview:
Take us through the journey of Appota.
Appota began because of founder Do Tuan Anh’s passion for technology and mobiles. Today’s success has been built on the lessons learnt from the earlier failures in the tech field. For example, in 2003, Do Tuan Anh founded GSM Forum, one of the biggest tech forums back then, which was then converted into a company specialising in mobile phones repair service that did not do so well. In 2006, he developed GDS, an application store for mobile phones but the business struggled to survive. After several such attempts, he joined Topica’s Founder Institute in 2011 where Appota took shape and was finally started in March 2012, with 12 people. The firm took more than half a year to develop Software Development Kit (SDK) and Application Programming Interface (API). It was the first firm in Vietnam to penetrate the market for mobile gaming platform.
Where is the company right now?
In July 2012, we hit five million user mark. Just 15 months after that, the number tripled. Not to mention the multi-million dollars series A and B we have secured from foreign investors over two years. Though we cannot disclose more details about the investments, it is something that we are really proud of. We are proud to be the priority choice of investors both domestic and foreign, when it comes to app and gaming platform in Vietnam.
How did Appota attract investors? Is the firms actively seeking both domestic and foreign investors?
We normally approach investors in four ways. Firstly, Appota is active in the networking events, conferences, private meetings, business & startup meetings both at the national and the international level. For example, we have attended the Global Entrepreneur Conference 2014 in Malaysia, Global Mobile Conference 2014 in Singapore, Startup Asia Toykyo 2014, to name a few. In our opinion, that is the best way to connect with the community, peers, and investors.Secondly, after we establish connections with potential investors, we update them occasionally on our business and our plans. In return, they provide feedback for our products and future plans. Thirdly, we focus on building and nurturing a very close relationship with our partners and customers. Trust is the most important factor when we deal with partners or customers and we try our best to never let them down. Fourthly and most important for a startup, is to have a well-defined prospect and take every step carefully towards. It is crucial for investors to know if they could “exit” when investing in a startup; so it’s our job to gain their trust with a strong business model and development strategies.
How has the business been for the first nine months of 2014?
The first nine months of 2014 have seen increase in revenue and growth. We have just opened a branch in Jakarta, Indonesia. We started to expand abroad with mobile games such as Captain Strike, Magic Stamp, which are the first two Vietnamese games to penetrate international markets. Our revenue has clocked an almost 200% growth for the first three quarters, compare the same period, last year.
Who are Appota’s biggest competitors?
We do not use the terms rival or competitors. Every single relationship in our business is either partner or colleague. Appota has always help the startup/tech community and young entrepreneurs. We invested in JOY studio to bring the game Captain Strike to the world. We give out 10 scholarships at Topica’s Founder Institute each year to motivate the founders. Next year, we will focus on building up a startup ecosystem, keep on researching and developing our existing products and services so that we can do better in the market. Our slogan “Think global, do local” will be with us when entering new markets in Southeast Asia.
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