China Paradigm interviewed Thomas Meyer, co-founder of Mobile Now Group to talk about critical insights and new opportunities in the mobile industry in China, share some knowledge about best social commerce practices for WeChat and tips to succeed as an entrepreneur in China.
Thomas Meyer, a mobile innovation specialist in China since 2009
Graduated from Toulouse Business School, Thomas Meyer has started his career in Japan. This is where the story began: working as an operator there he discovered the power of QR codes, recovered mobile wallets and code screen phones with rich media content.
Then working for large agencies, communication and innovation agencies around the world, first helping evaluators then helping handset manufacturers, he started to dive into the mobile industry in China.
In 2009 he created Mobile Now Group, a full-service mobile development studio with a focus on branded apps and games.
Today Thomas Meyer is a respected authority on mobile marketing in China: with his deep understanding of the Asian market, he has pitched and worked for 500 key clients across Asia Pacific, Europe, and the US.
Mobile Now Group, a mobile company in China delivering excellent branded apps and responsive websites
Mobile Now Group provides consultancy as well as development across all the key mobile platforms in China, with a team of 50 people from business consultants, strategists, technologists to user experience wizards, designers, developers, and testers. Over these last 10 years, Mobile Now Group has worked on 100 different projects.
Mobile Now Group has been a fairly avant-garde and visionary company, that has been able to see, before many others, the potential of the mobile market in China, as Thomas Meyer explains:
‘’When I start Mobile Now, it was tough to envision that people would use websites less, that they would be using mobile phones more, but it’s Apple and Android that made us believe that was possible back there. And it’s true; I started Mobile Now super early in China just when iPhones were not really selling officially yet.’’
How to catch the opportunities in China’s mobile industry?
For our guest, the answer seemed pretty simple: you must always remain user-centric. Observing, analyzing and understanding users is the most important thing because they are the ones who dictate mobile trends in China. When Thomas meets his customers, he always makes a short speech about what mobile innovation means for users today, what they expect. The goal is to make its customers understand how essential this user centrism is.
On top of that, you have to be very agile from a technology perspective. As an innovation agency, you need to be super curious about everything you see.
Wechat super apps: This is why Wechat is so dominant in China
According to Thomas Meyer, Wechat is like a portal of services. Indeed, WeChat has built an app that is an operating system for building services on top.
« Wechat is not just a social network, it’s my mobile wallet, it’s my postal services. I buy my train tickets through WeChat; I buy my groceries through WeChat. »
Recently, Mobile Now Group has worked for Pizza Hut and delivered a whole Wechat experience they called a super app, that is to say, an app that offers all of the functionalities you would expect when interacting with Pizza Hut. Ordering, delivering, booking a table, finding the closest restaurants, pre-ordering your food, paying, everything is set up for the client to save time.
And this growing demand changed the game: as mobile design and development studio, Mobile Now Group is often asked to build Wechat mini-programs and not native apps (like iOS or Android apps) anymore. For Thomas, this simplifies the way they work because WeChat provides them on this API with all the tools that enable them to build quickly smart mobile services that can be deployed and shared really easily over social networks.
Entrepreneurship in China: Tips when working in the Chinese mobile industry
- Compose a complementary and curious team across the country
Thomas Meyer explains why he wanted to expand in different cities across China:
The reasons are to access talents that are not always available in one city and to have a deep understanding of China’s mobile industry.
Many different skill sets are needed when starting a mobile company in China and you have to find them. This is also a perfect way to ensure that you stay relevant to a large market like China.
‘’A Chinese person from Shanghai and a Chinese person from Beijing on Hangzhou, Dali and Changsha, think very differently and live very differently and it’s essential for us to stay in touch with the different type of cities. And I think we are in a sweet spot where we understand the China market and can deliver on the China market but also on an international team.’’
- Find the right partner
Finding a partner to start a company in China is a must. According to Thomas Meyer, it’s all about empathy. You have to find someone who has the same vision as you, and especially someone who will have it for a very long time.
« I don’t know what advice to give to find the right partners, I think it’s a matter of feeling, it’s a matter of trusting, it’s a matter of complementarity and skill set, so there’s also a rational side to it. »
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