"Taiwan has some people that don't believe we can sell our phones. But I said if I just sell one phone I will succeed. If one person uses it, then he will participate, and then his friends will too," he said. "Every user becomes your R&D, every user becomes your sales, every user becomes your friend, that's the company we want to make."
Xiaomi, however, is still considered a small-scale handset vendor in its own home country, and largely relies on online sales to sell most of its smartphones. In 2012, the company had less than a 3 percent market share, according to research firm IDC. But demand for Xiaomi phones remains high. In recent weeks, the company, which gets its phones made by contract manufacturers like Foxconn, has been fulfilling 200,000 to 300,000 orders for its latest Xiaomi handsets, but still about 2 million customers are waiting online to buy them.
The fervor for Xiaomi products has often been compared to Apple's popularity. But Lei insisted that the company was following its own path.
"We are very different from Apple and Samsung," he said. "So please don't describe us as an Apple copycat. We are not."