Hong Kong based Stepcase was founded by Leon Ho in 2007.  Its iPhone photo community, Steply, has over 7.5 million users. In comparison, one of the most popular Android photo app, Camera 360, has about 6 million users.

“When iPhone first launched, its camera was not very good, especially when taking photos at night or when your hands shake.  We developed a simple app to detect hand shake.  I remembered it was Christmas when it launched.  In 1-2 weeks,  the free app recorded over 100,000 download,” said Leon Ho.

After that, Leon and his team knew photo app is the way to go.  They develop their own apps  and they also open their platform for other developers.  So far, there are about 10 apps on Steply – five from the Stepcase team and five from third parties.   “A total of 7.5 million users have downloaded Steply’s apps – 4 million for our own apps and 3.5 million for the third party apps.”

In the future, Leon hopes to have more and more apps on Steply’s platform.  “I hope to have multiple apps, each providing a different function,” said Leon.  As all the apps are targeting for the same type of users – those who like to take photos with their iPhone, there is significant cross-marketing effect among the apps.  “There is a simple app, called ‘Label box‘, launched on our platform.  Its function is to add label to photo.  In just 25 days, it recorded 1 million download,” said Leon.

Although Steply is developed in Hong Kong, its users are mostly from oversea. “Only 20% are from Hong Kong.  The others are from overseas, including, 15% from Japan, 10% from Korea, 10% for China and 10% from the U.S.,” said Leon.

Before founding his own company, Leon had worked for Red Hat, a major Linux distribution vendor, for 6 years in Australia.  “I was heading a team of software engineers to localize Red Hat Linus into Chinese, Korean and Indian version.”

He also founded a blog, called Lifehack (www.lifehack.org), which discuss about the technique you can employ to improve your life, e.g. How to start eating and living like a human.  Lifehack has over 1 million visitors a month and it is earning a healthy profit from advertising.

Author of Red Wired: China's Internet Revolution, the first book to completely survey the nature of China's internet. (http://redwiredrevolution.com/) She previously was the lead China technology reporter...

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