BLOCK71 Singapore Entrepreneur Feature — Aptoide

In this week’s Entrepreneur Feature, we speak to Tiago Alves, the VP for Asia Pacific for Aptoide, a start-up aiming to offer an alternative to the Google Play store.

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Tiago Alves, Vice President of Asia Pacific for Aptoide

Aptoide is one of the largest Android app stores. When you buy an Android phone, it comes pre-loaded with Google Play where you can find your favourite apps and games. We offer an alternative to Google Play.

2. What is Aptoide’s secret sauce?

There are several reasons as to why people install Aptoide on their phones. One of the reasons is that a lot of people in emerging markets like India and Indonesia, they’re getting a smartphone for the first time. They click on Google Play and the first thing that Google asks is “What’s your gmail?” or “What’s your Google account?”. They don’t have an email address because the smartphone is their first digital device. So they go and search how to install Candy Crush or Clash of Clans or Facebook without Google Play. If our SEO is good, they’ll find our website and they’ll install Aptoide. In the case of Aptoide, we don’t ask anything from the user. We don’t ask for your name, your email address, nothing. You just have to install Aptoide and you can download apps. Another strong driver of people coming to Aptoide is the apps or games they cannot find in Google Play. A good example is ourselves. We haven’t been in Google Play since 2013.

3. What’s next for Aptoide?

In early 2016, we raised a Series A round and with that round we expanded to Singapore and opened an office in Shenzhen. During that same period within the last two years, we doubled our user base from 20 million monthly active users to 40 million monthly active users. For the future of Aptoide, we decided, instead of raising a Series B round, we went for an ICO (initial coin offering). Last December, we raised $17 million to support this new protocol we call AppCoins and that’s where we’re focused right now. We’re developing the first ever blockchain protocol for app stores and we are not aware of any other store like Aptoide that is doing the same.

4. What are some of your greatest challenges?

For Aptoide, the biggest challenge so far has been to pivot. When you’re looking for investors, they look at the people behind the company. An example I’d like to give is how we used to make money from Google ads. In 2014, without any warning, Google shutdown our Google ads account with no reason at all. We had to be cool, not get nervous, and built our own advertisement platform. What was amazing is that it doubled our revenue once we started using our own ad platform and that made us break even 6 months before time. The biggest lesson is, if you’re in a hard situation, don’t give up, there’s always a way out.

5. What were some of your best memories at BLOCK71?

I’ve been with BLOCK71 for the last 3 years. As you can see, I really like to be here. In terms of best memories, it’s the companionship. I really like BLOCK71 because I feel it has an Asian local feeling to it. When I go to have meetings in other co-working spaces in Singapore, they’re full of foreigners like me. I don’t want to be surrounded by other foreigners or expats, I want to be surrounded by Southeast Asian start-ups and people, and that’s the best thing for me at NUS.

6. What are some of the call to actions you have?

Right now, Aptoide is looking for Android developers. If you have an Android game or app, please reach out to me at and I’ll introduce the AppCoins protocol to you. If you do integrate the protocol, we will feature you in our editor’s choice and we will give more downloads to your app or game.

Watch the full video interview with Tiago from Aptoide here:

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NUS Enterprise nurtures entrepreneurial talents with global mindsets, while advancing innovation and entrepreneurship at Asia’s leading university.

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