I remember perfectly where we were exactly one year ago today.
Seven of us, the whole of the OnePlus Global team at the time, sat around one computer and watched as OnePlus.net went live for the first time. A press release was sent, our forums went up and just like that, OnePlus was born.
Anyone who has ever been involved in a startup will have a good idea of what this year has been like for us. It’s a constant sprint. Your colleagues become family. Every day you put out fires, celebrate small wins and try to remember to soak in all that’s happening around you.
As you all know, since the inception of OnePlus, we have enjoyed successes but also experienced roadbumps. As is usually the case, we kept learning while moving forward, and are a lot wiser now than a year ago.
1. Know what problem you’re solving
We started OnePlus with a simple idea in mind, create legendary products and treat customers like friends. We thought we could build something better, but knew we could never tackle the giants of the industry by sticking to the status quo. We chose an uncertain business model and made some risky decisions to help us survive (hello, invite system). It’s a brand new way of thinking about things, but we’re confident that as long as we’re solving a problem for users, we’ll continue to grow.
2. Find your community
We launched our company in December and announced our first device in April. We didn’t have the time or resources to convince the general public to buy our phone, and it wouldn’t have been effective if we did. After all, it takes a certain kind of person to buy their phone online from a brand new, unproven company.
So, we identified our core audience and did everything in our power to reach you. Knowing that early adopters and true tech enthusiasts are the ones brave enough to take a chance on a device like this, we pushed our story and vision in blogs specifically related to the industry. Slowly, we saw you joining our online forum and engaging in discussions about phones, technology, and even daily life. One thread showed up early: the Random Nonsense Club (hey, RNC!). They’re still going strong and have forged strong friendships, chatting about anything you could imagine. Groups like this showed us that the OnePlus community would be something special.
At first, the community was small. But it was always enthusiastic, well informed and a remarkable source of feedback. Our forums are much larger now (over 400k registered members) but our goal is the same: stay as engaged and transparent as possible.
3. Be confident
We’ve often been called arrogant or cocky. We know why. But we also know that if we hadn’t made waves fast, we may not have survived. With just four months to build momentum and attention before launching the One, we rallied people around the slogan “Never Settle”, a phrase that hardly lowers expectations.
We posted graphics highlighting the issues we saw in the market; we heralded the incredible design and specs that our phone would feature; in short, we made huge promises months before we could back them up with a physical product. It was risky, but it made people listen and demonstrated just how strongly we believed in what we could do for users.
It’s one thing creating a product you really like, and another thing to have the market agree. Lucky for us, the you guys loved our first product.
4. But own up when you’re wrong
We’ve certainly made our fair share of mistakes. When we do, we work to fix them as fast as possible, because actions speak louder than words. Other issues, like production volume, can’t be improved with the snap of our fingers. But we think it’s important to admit when we’re wrong and stay as transparent as possible. We’re never going to be perfect, especially as a young company facing new “firsts” every day, but we’re continuing to learn and improve.
5. Stay human
Everyone at OnePlus works extremely hard. For a full year, we’ve been averaging 12 hour days, six days a week. When you’re sitting in front of a computer that much, surrounded by the same people every day with to-do lists stacked around you, it can be difficult to keep perspective.
We decided to host fan gatherings to stay connected to our users, but also just to get a chance to hang out with like-minded people. At our fan gatherings, we have the privilege of hearing great feedback about OnePlus and indulging in long discussions about our shared passions. We’ve gotten to meet people from all over the world and make amazing new friendships that we know will last beyond any job or product lifecycle.
This is also the reason for the weekly updates we write on the forums. You’re as big a part of building this company as we are, and we want you to know exactly what we’ve been up to each week. Just a couple days ago, we also launched our Vine account to further increase the dialogue with our fans.
6. Service is the key
If we could go back to the beginning and start all over again, the number one thing we’d change is how quickly we grew our support team. We simply didn’t scale it as quickly as we needed to to offer all our users a positive experience.
Our top focus is our product and our users. Prioritizing our users means prioritizing the level of support we offer, and that’s where we’re placing most of our resources at the moment. In the past month, we’ve doubled the size of our team and will keep hiring until we can provide the users the level of support they expect and deserve.
7. Have fun
You may be picking up on a theme: this year was hard. But it was also incredible. Just a few of the things we’ve had the honor of celebrating:
– Launching a brand new company
– Launching a brand new device
– Two trending topics on Twitter at launch
– 140k+ applications for Smash the Past
– 400k+ forum users in one year
– Expanding to our first new country, India
– Almost 1 million Facebook fans in one year
We also try to have fun at work. Office culture is very important to us, especially given that we work as much as we do. In the last year, we’ve adopted a puppy, built a game room, learned a Bollywood dance and thrown a bunch of parties. Tonight, we’re having another party in Hong Kong to celebrate a year gone by and what’s ahead.
8. Keep ‘em guessing
This year was incredible, but now it’s time for what’s next. We won’t try to replicate 2014; we’ll try to be better. We’re growing, evolving, hiring and building brand new products – all kinds.
We can’t tell you much…yet. But we promise big surprises for 2015.