Home to unicorn companies such as Gojek, Tokopedia, and Bukalapak, Indonesia is a promising launchpad for startups. But what makes the country so appealing to entrepreneurs?
According to Herman Widjaja, CTO of Tokopedia, “Indonesia is the country with the highest transaction value in Southeast Asia. The digital economy in the region also continues to grow in double digits, with e-commerce and online media sectors as the largest contributors. This growing potential for the digital economy acts as a catalyst for the booming startup scene.”
This year, we introduced the e27 Luminaries initiative as a way to celebrate the unsung heroes of the Southeast Asian tech startup ecosystem. We reached out to selected companies to nominate individuals that they felt have made a significant contribution to their success throughout the pandemic.
Far from being a one-hit-wonder, Indonesia almost dominated the e27 Luminaries list with a total of 14 startups. This proves that the local startup ecosystem is filled with players that are resilient enough to face the challenges of a pandemic.
Here are the companies that have made it to the list:
A fintech startup that uses Open Finance API platform to provide infrastructure and data products with financial institutions to create “seamless and personalised” experiences for consumers, who can benefit from their data. The startup is currently still in its beta phase and is also a part of Y Combinator’s Winter 2021 startup batch.
One being asked how Oloan rode out the challenges, he said, “I emphasized to the team the importance of communicating, especially when working remotely. I also introduced online collaboration tools to better track and manage work processes. This helped increase efficiency while reducing miscommunication. At the end of the day, it’s a matter of adapting and the team did well to roll with the changes,”.
Luminary: Victor Oloan
Role: Senior Engineering Manager
His impact: Building the platform from scratch amid a pandemic
A financial wellness platform that aims to improve the long-term financial health of employees and companies by providing them with financial education, and other financial management tools.
Saragih said that putting the mission first and doing honest communication to the team about the intentions, and showing vulnerability was a crucial part of passing through the storm because “it’s the fears and anxieties that we all share, which draw us closer”.
Luminary: Ade Yuanda Saragih
Role: Country Head for Indonesia
His impact: Leading the company’s operation in Indonesia throughout the challenges put forth by COVID-19.
A super app that was initially started as a motorcycle ride-hailing company but has since expanded to different verticals, like digital payments, food delivery, logistics, and many other on-demand services. It has recently announced its merger with fellow Indonesian unicorn Tokopedia.
Luminary: Severan Rault
Role: CTO (Chief Technology Officer)
His impact: Enhancing the platform and maintaining strong leadership
A B2B e-commerce platform for FMCG wholesalers, manufacturers, and retail businesses. Through its platform, traders can connect to meet and transact online with wholesalers and mom-pop retailers of all sizes.
Luminary: Andre Widjaja
Role: Chief of Business Development
His impact: Building the company’s sales and BD team and preparing it for expansion.
A one-stop solution for people in the creative industry who want to create their own audiovisual products. In addition to building a platform for voice-over talents which the startup began with, it has also expanded to include background music.
Luminary: Punto Adhil Dewanto
Role: Admin Staff
His impact: Establishing and running the company.
Jala Tech is transforming the shrimp industry by offering a vastly improved management system. The goal of the company is to get farmers to make decisions based on actual data. To do that, its system provides water quality monitoring, planning, and reporting tools, complete with a decision support system so that farmers can initiate the right treatment at the right time, based on data that has been collected and analysed.
Luminary: Christine Kombong
Role: BD Executive
Her impact: Helping the company’s community of shrimp farmers.
Brings together SMEs and lenders online under a single platform so that the former who have historically been underbanked by traditional financial institutions can borrow easily from the latter.
“Stand in your customer’s shoes. In KoinWorks, we know that COVID strikes hard for SMEs especially during the first hit, we are trying to understand their financial dilemma and craft a solution to reduce their stress and let them think about how to bounce back. So as COVID is the norm now, businesses are growing bigger than they are before because it’s just another lesson learned for their entrepreneurial journey,” said Jonathan Bryan CMO of Koinworks, on successfully enduring the pandemic.
Luminary: Jonathan Bryan
Role: Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)
His impact: Managing to maintain brand position amidst a challenging time.
A fashion tech startup that cultivates mycelia (a type of fungus) along with sawdust to make a substitute for animal-based leather. Its designed process consumes far less water than the traditional animal-based leather-making processes.
Luminary: Jean Rosy Tency
Role: Head of HR
Her impact: Keeping the company’s morale high throughout the pandemic period.
A mobile app payment system that ensures that financial transactions are simple, instant, and secure. The platform provides its users with access to payments, transfers, cash-in/out, rewards, asset management, and investments.
Luminary: Jason Thompson
His impact: Leading and growing the entire company.
An e-commerce platform for beauty products and a subsidiary of Social Bella, an integrated beauty-tech company that focuses on developing “a scalable and sustainable” online and offline ecosystem for beauty and personal care. One of its major goals is to empower customers to use local brands.
Luminary: Ngoc Phungbich
Role: Chief Business Officer
Her impact: Driving successful expansion to Vietnam.
An agritech startup that focuses on bridging farmers to a wider market. Its business lines include TaniHub (an e-commerce platform for food and agricultural products), TaniFund (a P2P lending platform for farmers), and TaniSupply (a unit that works on improving agricultural supply chain).
Luminary: Astri Purnamasari
Role: VP Corporate Services
Her impact: Establishing a strong and robust company culture.
An e-commerce giant that aims to build a super ecosystem where anyone can start and discover anything. The company works with various marketplaces, logistics, payments, and financial technology businesses, while also providing more than 500,000 payment points across Indonesia.
Despite the uncertainties that lied ahead, Tokopedia under the leadership of Widjaja made significant improvements to their technology.
One such example is how the team built a system capable of detecting unusual-priced healthcare products during the early phase of the pandemic after they noticed the rise in price and demand of such products.
Luminary: Herman Widjaja
Role: SVP and CTO
His impact: For his work in building a culture of innovation and teamwork as #OneTokopedia
A digital payment infrastructure company that enables businesses to accept digital payments without the need to implement integrations with individual providers. It has since expanded its services to include services such as fraud detection, lending, and tax management.
Luminary: Sujinun Jutakorn
Role: VP of Sales
Her impact: Leading the sales team and securing winning sales during the pandemic
Zenius is an edutech startup that targets all education levels, from elementary school to senior high with public university test prep. The cost to subscribe to its online course starts from US$12 to US$46 per month. Zenius is said to already have a library of 80,000 educational videos.
Luminary: Rohan Monga
His impact: Leading the introduction of new products to the market.
Image Credit: rohiim ariful
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