When it launched in May, Evernote’s separate Yinxiang Biji service for China attracted a flood of interest from domestic users. Since then, user adoption has continued to be”better than expected”, says the company’s China GM Amy Gu.
The Next Web stopped by the Yinxiang Biji offices recently to see how the team has been getting on. Gu, a graduate of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business with experience in both Silicon Valley and China, said the service, which now drives Evernote’s second-fastest growing market, has received good feedback from Chinese users and has seen steady growth.
The space draws upon Evernote’s unique company culture and the Silicon Valley startup feel. Most of the team works in a open space that includes a foosball table, and the conference rooms are cheerily named after Evernote products like Hello and Skitch. Meanwhile, the Yinxiang Biji team has a new neighbor in the form of a new Evernote office across the strait in Taiwan, where the company has launched a partnership with carrier Taiwan Mobile.
Evernote isn’t in a rush to grow its business, but it is a fast-moving company on the product side, offering a steady stream of software updates. China’s no exception. Yinxiang Biji’s API opened up to developers just last month. Gu said a number of developers have expressed interest in the API, including the Hong Kong-based Everclip team that won gold at the recent Evernote Trunk developer conference.
The executive highlighted several strategies that Yinxiang Biji has taken to reach the Chinese market. For instance, she and her team put together a fun viral video to recruit the China office’s eighth hire. The video was a success, bringing in more than 2,000 resumes without extra HR costs. One of the team members was even recognized on a plane recently because of the video.
I asked whether Evernote is worried about local competitors, but Gu says she’s more concerned with gaining customer confidence than beating rivals. “Our business is a slow business, so it has to take a lot of time by gaining users trust and having them be comfortable with using our product. It’s more of a trust business and trust needs a really long time to build,” she said.
Though Yinxiang Biji may be a new product, Evernote has been building up trust in China for four years. Prior to the service’s launch, it had already attracted more than a million users in the country.
Gu did, however, quote Evernote CEO Phil Libin as saying that paper is the company’s biggest competitor. It’s not above working with its rival, though. Evernote recently partnered up with Moleskine on a Smart Notebook, a physical notebook with nifty tricks, such as smart stickers and OCR-optimized paper patterns, that tie it in with Evernote’s software.
Yinxiang Biji has been promoting the new project on Sina Weibo by polling users about their favorite 100-year-old classics, a reference to both Evernote’s mission to build an enduring company and Moleskine’s own legacy.
While social media and viral videos have been successful tactics for the team, they’ve also turned to more traditional methods: face-to-face meetups that are part focus group, part fan club. Chinese Evernote users are apparently equally excited to learn new ways to put the service to work for them, as they are about sharing their own tips and tricks for it.
If you hang around China long enough, someone’s bound to mention its 5,000 years of continuous history. Evernote’s goal to hit 100 years might seem like a moment compared to China’s past, but at least it seems off to a good start here.
Images via TNW, Evernote