BLOCK71 Singapore Entrepreneurs Feature — Aptoide

In this week’s Entrepreneurs Feature, we speak to Tiago, VP of Aptoide, the largest independent Android app store, which allows one to setup and manage their own Android Store. After leading a successful Series A round, Tiago is now VP Asia Pacific at Aptoide, leading the business in the region and preparing the future Series B round. He is a regular attendee and speaker at tech events (Echelon, Tech in Asia, GMASA, GOAB, RISE, etc). Before joining Aptoide, Tiago spent 12 years at Portugal Telecom where he had several technology-related roles.

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1. What is Aptoide and how did the idea behind it come about?

Aptoide is the second largest Android App Store in the world (after Google Play) with 200 Million active users in 2017. There are many reasons why people install Aptoide (even though Google Play comes pre-installed in most Android phones) but the main ones are:

(i) looking for Apps that are not available in Google Play;

(ii) they don’t have a Google account (many first time users of smartphones don’t even have an email address);

(iii) they want to use older versions of a specific app or game (once you update and app in Google Play you cannot rollback);

(iv) they want to share apps and games with friends without an internet connection (Aptoide has a pier-to-pier offline functionality).

The idea came from our CEO, Paulo Trezentos, when he was doing his PhD in Computer Science and decided to do his thesis around a decentralised App Store, inspired by the YouTube model, in which the content is uploaded by the users (instead of a central entity like Google Play or iTunes). He first allocated a USD 200k budget to the project and once it got traction, he decided to raise a USD 1 million seed round from Portugal Ventures.

2. What differentiates Aptoide from its competitors?

That we have about 300,000 power users that constantly upload new Apps onto our platform, is something very unique and difficult for our competitors to replicate.

3. Where do you see Aptoide 5 years from now and how do you plan to take it there?

We don’t believe in monopolies and it has been our vision since the beginning to offer a viable alternative to Google Play when it comes to the app distribution business. We hope that 5 years from now, we live in a world where users and developers can have a choice when deciding where to download or distribute their apps respectively. To achieve this vision, we have recently launched the AppCoins project to become the first ever app store to embrace the blockchain.

4. What are some of the greatest challenges in the course of your entrepreneurial journey and what did you learn from them?

When I first arrived to Singapore, I tried to address all SEA markets at the same time. So I was travelling like crazy around the region trying to get B2B partners. But very quickly, I found out that it took several trips to the same country to seal a deal and it was impossible if I kept trying to do it in all countries concurrently, as I started to drop some balls. So I decided to address one country at a time. I started with Indonesia and kept going to Jakarta until I got a few deals. Then I moved on to Malaysia and so on until I had partners in all major SEA countries.

5. What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

I spent several years working for a big Telco company and I always felt that I was at the wheel of Titanic, i.e. even if I turned the wheel really fast the ship kept moving straight. It was frustrating since I would come up with good ideas, work very hard on them, only to encounter a lot of red tape, meaning that it took a great deal of time to implement project. But with a startup, it is like you are in a very small sail boat, i.e. as soon as you move the wheel, you immediately impact the course of your company. I feel that my actions in Aptoide really matter and have an impact on the future of the company — there is no bigger rewarding feeling than this.

6. If you could talk to one famous entrepreneur, who would it be and why?

I would love to sit down and chat with Jack Ma. I think it’s just amazing what he was able to accomplish despite coming from such a humble origin. I believe that “resilience” is the most important factor of an Entrepreneur’s personality and Jack Ma’s life is full of examples where someone else would simply give up but he just kept going (e.g. 4 consecutive years of trying to gain access to University studies in China or being rejected from 30 different jobs).

7. What was your most memorable moment in BLOCK71 Singapore?

Being responsible for raising Aptoide’s Series A round has been the most rewarding moment so far because I felt I positively impacted the future of the company and its employees for several years. It was memorable since the next day, I had a written note and a bottle of champagne from another hot-desker congratulating me and I still keep that note on my desk for inspiration.

Are you an entrepreneur working on a cool product and looking for more than just a co-working space ? Do apply for a hotdesk here and become part of the exciting community that we offer at BLOCK71 Singapore.

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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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