Interview with a CEO: UMi’s Heaven


umi zero ceo interview

Over the next few months we will be interviewing CEO’s bosses and company executives from Chinese smartphone makers. To kick things off we speak to UMi CEO Heaven.

We managed to catch up with UMi CEO Heaven during our last trip to Shenzhen. We managed to sit him down for a few moments out of his busy schedule to speak to him about UMi, how he got in to the smartphone industry and more.

GizChina: Tell us what your name is and your position.
Heaven: My name is Heaven, I am the CEO of UMI Technology Limited. I mostly in charge of the whole product line planning, product designing and manufacturing.

GizChina: Interesting name choice. How did you come by it?
Heaven: Well, it was my first day at English class and I was running late. When I arrived in class the English teacher caught me and asked my my name. I answered “I haven’t”, but the teacher miss heard as “Heaven”, and so it stuck.

GizChina: How did you get in to the smartphone industry?
Heaven: I’m a lover of digital products. Ever since smartphones came out I’ve been crazy about them, buying the latest models as soon as they came out. After I graduated from University I decided to move to Shenzhen after hearing about the huge Electronics industry here. Obviously I was lucky get into a cellphone company and start my smartphone journey.

GizChina: You created UMi, what can you tell us about your company?
Heaven: The name UMi reminds a lot of people of Xiaomi, I do not deny it, but the meaning of UMi is unique to us and how we feel about our products and customers. As the name sounds, UMi represents ‘you’ and ‘I’. The fans and UMi as a company. I wanted to create a company that cares about it’s fans and customers, with a product and design mindful of what our fans want. We try to create a beautiful experience of a product that belongs to you.

I used to spend a lot of time on forums, sharing ideas about gadgets and reviewing technology. I found that most companies weren’t so interested in the experience between themselves and their fans, so I decided to start my own called UMi.

GizChina: Recently UMi launched the Zero. Is there anything significant behind the name choice?
Heaven: This goes back to 2 years ago when I started UMI. At that time we were mainly focused on the Chinese Mainland market. We launched the UMi X1, X1 Pro, X2, Cross and even worked created a software to help root your phone and install alternative UI to the phones. It was a huge learning process and in that time we faced large problems.

The X1 was a huge success and took us all by surprise we struggled with our supply chain with the X1 in terms of lead time of material supply but somehow we survived. When the X2 launched the demand was even bigger and we had a huge delay with shipping and that caused a lot of canceled orders. Besides not being able to control the supply chain and production lead time, we were working with different solution company who could offer only very limited software upgrades on our phones which is why all the devices including C1 cannot upgrade to lollipop 5.0.

While we strived to keep ahead in China, which was our main market at the time, we left our overseas markets to the hands of our resellers. We trusted our resellers and did not have a direct contact with our oversea fans. Obviously the resellers did not care about our brand and our fans but only making money. Which caused further issues for us.

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With the UMi Zero we decide to take our oversea market back and run it by ourselves in order to take care more about our fans and offer better service. We also have better control of our supply chains now and are working on new UI’s for the Zero.
It was a huge challenge for us and it felt like we were starting from Zero again, and that’s where the name came from. The UMi Zero represents a fresh start for UMi, a chance for us to do better.

umi zero review

GizChina: Some have asked why you choose to launch the UMi Zero without LTE. Can you tell us why?
Heaven: There are a few reason for this. We believe that in its current form LTE is sill in its infancy. We didn’t want to launch the Zero at a higher price with a feature only a small percentage of customers would actually use. Also, as we are a smaller manufacturer, adding LTE would have delayed release of the Zero and fans would have to wait longer.

umi zero review

GizChina: The UMi Zero costs $200, but so do a lot of other phones. What features make the Zero stand out?
Heaven: There are 3 main features of the UMi Zero which you cannot find on a single other phone for $200. The Samsung Super AMOLED full HD display, 13 mega-pixel Sony Camera and, beautiful alloy chassis.

GizChina: As you have already mentioned, UMi is a smaller phone maker, how do you plan to compete with larger companies?
Heaven: Well our goal is not to compete with any other mobile companies, but bring the best smartphone experience to all our fans who share the same dream as ours.

GizChina: What can we expect from UMi in the future?
Heaven: In the coming months we will open a dedicated UMI forum for all our fans to share their ideas and opinions with us, so that we can grow together.

GizChina: Do you have plans to set up offices outside of China to serve international customers?
Heaven: Yes, we are planning to start from our 3 biggest markets, Spain, Germany and Russia to provide more professional local service.

GizChina: When can we expect the next UMi phone?
Heaven: Let’s look forward to it together by the next summer.

GizChina: Can you give us any information about the next UMi phone?
Heaven: Well the next phone, certainly will improve the lead time issue.

umi zero ceo interview

GizChina: Do you have any words of advice for readers who would like to enter the smartphone industry?
Heaven: You need to have faith in yourself. Even if you fail once it doesn’t mean you will keep failing. What matters is you pick up where you left and work with it and to do better.

GizChina: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions.
Heaven: Thank you for interviewing me. I hope this helps to have a whole new understand about us.

The UMi Zero is available from today for $199.99 via Aliexpress, and you can find out more news from the company via their official Facebook page.

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18 Comments

  1. Adam Irvine
    December 16, 2014

    I like it… 🙂

  2. Adam Irvine
    December 16, 2014

    I like it… 🙂

  3. carlos
    December 16, 2014

    I own Umi Cross bought in November 2013 it fell on the ground many times also on the screen and proved that it is very well made.Battery holds up to four days and I would love to own another Umi phone. Dear Heaven you are on a right path.

    • Ivan Budiutama
      December 17, 2014

      pun intended?

      • carlos
        December 17, 2014

        No…the phone is good and works as it should.

  4. carlos
    December 16, 2014

    I own Umi Cross bought in November 2013 it fell on the ground many times also on the screen and proved that it is very well made.Battery holds up to four days and I would love to own another Umi phone. Dear Heaven you are on a right path.

    • Ivan Budiutama
      December 17, 2014

      pun intended?

    • carlos
      December 17, 2014

      No…the phone is good and works as it should.

  5. carlos
    December 16, 2014

    I own Umi Cross bought in November 2013 it fell on the ground many times also on the screen and proved that it is very well made.Battery holds up to four days and I would love to own another Umi phone. Dear Heaven you are on a right path.

    • Ivan Budiutama
      December 17, 2014

      pun intended?

  6. John
    December 17, 2014

    Are they the next Xiaomi, or perhaps Vivo is?

  7. Guest
    December 17, 2014

    Are they the next Xiaomi, or perhaps Vivo is?

  8. babou
    December 19, 2014

    the worst phone Ihave had umi x2
    never again umi phone

  9. babou
    December 19, 2014

    the worst phone Ihave had umi x2
    never again umi phone

  10. Mohd Shafaq Rafi
    March 13, 2015

    The built of this phone is excellent, but one rather prefers or performance also. A lot more phones with the same configuration are out these days. If only UMI cares to remove the heating issue and releases a full fledged update removing all other flaws like gesture, smart screen, touch response, I have to tap hard to go to the home screen. Cam quality too does not appears good in comparison to other 13 Mp camera devices. I hope all will resolve with Lollipop update.

  11. Mohd Shafaq Rafi
    March 13, 2015

    The built of this phone is excellent, but one rather prefers or performance also. A lot more phones with the same configuration are out these days. If only UMI cares to remove the heating issue and releases a full fledged update removing all other flaws like gesture, smart screen, touch response, I have to tap hard to go to the home screen. Cam quality too does not appears good in comparison to other 13 Mp camera devices. I hope all will resolve with Lollipop update.

  12. Ali Awad
    June 6, 2017

    A Message to UMI CEO

    Dear Heaven

    I hope your media department will deliver this email to you, we got in touch with UMIDIGI sales representatives Gary, and after that we got switch to Milton after we complained about Gary slow performance.

    We have requested Gary an exclusive authorized agreement from day one after we did our research in market and we approved 50K$ budget for the first Quarter we spent around 40K$ out of it so far to build UMI a brand positioning in the market.

    We ordered samples who took too long to arrive with wrong invoice description and a used paper to photo invoice over so samples got stuck in customs for fraud description, after releasing the samples we went to market and we inform sales team about potential clients to find that one of the Sales people Jack contact or receive inquiry form one of our clients and send them back wholesale prices and start negotiating
    with them directly.

    I’m sure Heaven as CEO of UMIDIGI didn’t approve this action and not his only concern is to move stock for one time and destroy UMI reputation in our country Jordan especially that we passed on this client due to his bad reputation and the fraud he commit in our market by screwing up investors for over 6M$.

    I hope you understand that we are not worried about the 40K$ we spent so far, we are looking forward to protecting UMI name even if you guys decide to select another partner to represent UMI in our country.

    Our plan was to penetrate all MENA region country by country and to build long term relationship with UMI last for even, I’m sure that UMIDIGI CEO have good morals and ethics and worked hard to build UMI and will not allow such actions inside his company.

    Always Yours

    Ali Awad
    CEO
    WeStream Media Inc
    10 Emile Habibi Street
    Ramallah – Palestine
    Cell: +970 595 33 55 66
    Cell: +962 777 55 66 33

  13. Ali Awad
    June 6, 2017

    A Message to UMI CEO

    Dear Heaven

    I hope your media department will deliver this email to you, we got in touch with UMIDIGI sales representatives Gary, and after that we got switch to Milton after we complained about Gary slow performance.

    We have requested Gary an exclusive authorized agreement from day one after we did our research in market and we approved 50K$ budget for the first Quarter we spent around 40K$ out of it so far to build UMI a brand positioning in the market.

    We ordered samples who took too long to arrive with wrong invoice description and a used paper to photo invoice over so samples got stuck in customs for fraud description, after releasing the samples we went to market and we inform sales team about potential clients to find that one of the Sales people Jack contact or receive inquiry form one of our clients and send them back wholesale prices and start negotiating
    with them directly.

    I’m sure Heaven as CEO of UMIDIGI didn’t approve this action and not his only concern is to move stock for one time and destroy UMI reputation in our country Jordan especially that we passed on this client due to his bad reputation and the fraud he commit in our market by screwing up investors for over 6M$.

    I hope you understand that we are not worried about the 40K$ we spent so far, we are looking forward to protecting UMI name even if you guys decide to select another partner to represent UMI in our country.

    Our plan was to penetrate all MENA region country by country and to build long term relationship with UMI last for even, I’m sure that UMIDIGI CEO have good morals and ethics and worked hard to build UMI and will not allow such actions inside his company.

    Always Yours

    Ali Awad
    CEO
    WeStream Media Inc
    10 Emile Habibi Street
    Ramallah – Palestine
    Cell: +970 595 33 55 66
    Cell: +962 777 55 66 33