“Where the heck can I get that invite,” people wondered, when the “flagship killer” entered the mobile phone market. Impatient demand and intentionally limited, invite-only supply made the OnePlus One an immediate phenomenon. Sparkling from Shenzhen and China, there is something exceptional behind this company – Carl Pei, for example.
They thought they would sell 30,000 to 50,000 smartphones during the first year. The end result? Over 1 million devices sold in 2014. Compared to Apple and other giants, it might sound modest at first. But when you realize the company was only one-year-old and didn’t officially advertise its first phone, you start to understand the hype around OnePlus. In addition, their Co-founder and Head of Global, Carl Pei, was a 24-year-old university dropout.
Brought up in Sweden, and now living in Shenzhen, Carl Pei is a true minimalist. He only lives in Airbnbs, wears the same t-shirt everyday (he has nine of those though) and dreams of changing the world – one mobile phone at a time. After dropping out from the Stockholm School of Economics, he moved back to China. One day, during a cup of coffee with his friends, they realized there wasn’t a clear number one Android phone in the market. None of them were good enough for themselves to use. So, they started building one.
Both the company and Carl have been globally-driven, and very successful already at a young age. But, in addition to controversial and provoking marketing, what has generated all the OnePlus hype around the world?
Well, their tagline might as well be Always Listen – i.e. they really understand their customers. After the invite-only launch of their first phone, word-of-mouth has remained as the key metric for OnePlus. “One metric that we always look at when we do product development is NPS (Net Promoter Scores): out of 100 people, how many would recommend it minus how many would not recommend it,” Carl says, and gives an example: “I read the Android subreddit and the OnePlus subreddit every day.”
Especially the early-adopters are important for them. According to Carl, those who buy your product in the very beginning are the ones who take the greatest leap of faith, so they should earn your deepest respect. When you sum up their customer-centric attitude and a high focus on product development, you result with the basis to build success on. When spicing it up with the Never Settle, their real slogan and brand mantra, you discover what OnePlus is all about:
“Throughout history, the underdogs are the ones who have really disrupted other people. They are under the radar, and suddenly they come up and change the game.”