A Q&A with Yodo1 co-founder and CEO Henry Fong. The Beijing–based company was founded in late 2011 and raised $2 million in Seed funding at the end of June from the Chang You Fund.
SUB: Please describe Yodo1 and the value proposition you offer to game developers.
Fong: Yodo1 helps Western game developers distribute and monetize their mobile game in China, which is now the world’s largest and fastest-growing market for iOS and Android devices. Our API platform helps developers quickly localize their games for the Chinese gamer, while our experienced in-house production and distribution team makes sure they’re widely available in the huge but fragmented China market, and that they’re optimized to make as much money for the developer as possible.
SUB: Who are your target users?
Fong: Western games developers looking to monetize their iOS and Android games in China.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Fong: Probably The9’s mobile publishing division. At the same time, we’re confident that no one else is really offering the full suite of services we have for the China market.
SUB: What differentiates Yodo1 from the competition?
Fong: Our open platforms philosophy means that games developers gain the broadest distribution and promotional reach when working through Yodo1. Instead of forcing gamers to join a closed network in order to play our games, Yodo1 partners with the leading social networks, third party app stores, mobile carriers and gaming media in China to bring our games to the gamer. Yodo1 also has its own games review and sharing platform called YoPing which allows smartphone users to easily discover, share and directly download games for both Android and iOS devices. Incredibly, there was no major cross-platform discovery site for Chinese smartphone gamers before YoPing, so we think it’ll become their go-to place to find the latest games.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Fong: Yodo1 was founded in late 2011 by a group of savvy entrepreneurs with decades of experience in helping Western technology companies expand their business and accelerate their revenues in Asia. A couple of us also have deep experience in game development, having worked for major publishers like EA, Konami, SEGA and THQ. The founding team has helped over 60 western technology companies grow their revenue in key Asian markets such as China and Japan, while at the same time protecting their brand and intellectual property in markets that are often disrespectful of IP rights and rampant in piracy.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Yodo1? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Fong: It was less of an ‘aha’ moment but rather the discovery of a number of major industry trends converging in what we believe to be a ‘big bang’ that led us to the Yodo1 business model. The adoption of smartphone devices had been accelerating rapidly globally and what caught our attention was how it was disrupting the traditional games distribution model and creating a new billion dollar industry in smartphone games and apps. We then honed in on where the growth prospects were the biggest and most rapid which led us to China, which already had the second largest install of smartphones globally and set to grow by 100 percent-plus this year. Billion dollar markets that are growing at triple digits are a rare find in any industry and that’s why Yodo1 is here.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Fong: Growing fast enough to keep up with the demand from western games developers. Yodo1 has grown from nine people in January 2012 to over 70 people in July. Finding the right talent that is willing to move and grow as fast as we are has definitely been the biggest challenge we have.
SUB: You recently raised $2 million in Seed funding. How do you plan to use the funds?
Fong: The funding enables us to scale our production and operations teams so that we are able to help more western games developers monetize in China even faster. Demand for Yodo1 services has been astounding and the funding will allow us to partner with more game developers and bring more great games to Chinese game players.
SUB: Do you plan to raise more outside funding in the near future?
Fong: Yes. Dozens of high quality game developers have contacted us about helping them to publish and distribute in China since our PR launch one week ago and the flow has not slowed to date. We have lots of exciting new products and partnerships scheduled in the coming months and I’m sure these will lead to additional developer interest in Yodo1’s capabilities.
SUB: What are your goals for Yodo1 over the next year or so?
Fong: Yodo1’s mission is to bring the best smartphone games from around the world to the Chinese gamer. In the next year, we aim to be the most trusted partner that leading games developers will choose to help them distribute and monetize in China. At the same time, we hope to establish Yodo1 as a brand that represents high quality smartphone games in China so that gamers proactively seek out Yodo1 published games in the market. In fact, we have several partnership and platform announcements coming very soon, so stay tuned.
Yodo1 – www.yodo1.com