NEW YORK (
is striving to become the next
, according to Peter Vesterbacka, the company's chief marketing officer.
"Disney is a good role model for us," he said Thursday at Business Insider's Ignition Conference in New York. "They're doing a lot of things we want to do."
To create a brand as iconic as Mickey Mouse, Rovio is looking to expand outside of its mobile game business, which hit 500 million downloads in just two years.
plush toys, Christmas stockings and iPhone cases. The company is also looking to get into apparel, said Vesterbacka, who donned a red
sweatshirt during the conference.
"A lot of people's first exposure to the game is not through the game but to t-shirts and books," he said. "We don't care how people first discover
This merchandise makes up about 10% to 20% of Rovio's overall revenue, the company told
Film is another area Rovio is looking to break into.
In July, the company hired former Marvel Studios chairman David Maisal -- who produced
The Incredible Hulk
-- to adapt
into a full-length movie. Rovio also purchased an animation studio in its native Finland as part of this strategy.
"We want to be the first brand with a billion fans," Vesterbacka said.
To achieve this type of growth, Rovio is focused squarely on one place: China.
"In the last 10 weeks I've been there (China) four times," he said. "Our first office outside of Helsinki was opened in Shanghai."
is also the most copied brand in China, Vesterbacka said, but it's something the company has embraced.
"We look at fake
products and we pirate the pirates," he said. "We make a lot of those into official merchandise -- there's a lot of cool innovation happening there and they're making products we never thought of."
Rovio plans to open its first retail stores in China this year to counter the dozens of unlicensed outlets that have sprung up.
"We're only getting started here, there's not a sense of accomplishment," he said. "Disney is a $60 billion business."
Written by Olivia Oran in New York
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