A Boost for Indonesian Tech Start-Ups
During a gathering of local tech start-ups in Jakarta last month that saw entrepreneurs discuss the business outlook for 2012, a troubling theme emerged.
While the trends emerging from Indonesia’s tech industry were exciting, including new developments in music distribution and gaming, many of the country’s tech start-ups were failing.
Of course, the risk of failure defines a start-up. Indonesian technology entrepreneurs, like their peers around the world, are eager to roll the dice and try to realize the potential of the country’s market. Broadband Internet use has reached 30 million people and there are now 200 million activated mobile phone numbers in Indonesia, and it’s growing.
But Indonesian entrepreneurs need more than just the courage to gamble on a start-up if they hope to compete with global businesses.
Enter Ryu Kawano, a Harvard Business School student, and Aldi Haryopratomo, a Harvard Business School alumnus, who hope to bolster the local technology business community. The young entrepreneurs have initiated a two-day event called “BOOST: From the Valley to Indonesia,” where speakers from Silicon Valley and Japan will share their insight and experience. The event is scheduled to take place next Tuesday and Wednesday at InterContinental Hotel Jakarta.
The conference will discuss some of the typical problems facing start-ups, such as how to value a new business, as well as how to develop a product and market and finance it.
Boost aims to share knowledge with and increase networking among existing tech start-ups in Indonesia to provide the tools to expand their companies. The conference will be divided into a general lecture as well as a closed workshop.
Keynote speaker Akimitsu Sano will reveal how he grew his recipe community start-up, Cookpad, and took it public. Sano will offer tips to blossoming start-ups and discuss initial public offerings.
The list of scheduled speakers also includes Brent Hurley, the co-founder of YouTube, and Ian McFarland, who worked for Friendster in the early days of social networking and is now the chief technology officer at Digital Garage.
There are also scheduled speakers from the Indonesian technology industry, including Andy Zain, a founder of MobileMonday Indonesia, Antonny Liem, the CEO of the investment firm Merah Putih Incubator, and Nanda Ivens, director of Edelman Digital, a prominent Indonesian digital consultancy.
Tokyo-based venture capitalist Tatsuo Tsutsumi of GREE Ventures Partner, a leading investment firm in Japan, is also scheduled to talk at Boost. Tsutsumi has been studying Indonesian start-ups, and has suggested entrepreneurs study company benchmarks.
“Basically, Indonesian start-ups already have their own business ideas,” he said by e-mail. “By studying the United States and Japan’s Internet businesses, they can take a short cut and avoid failures,”
Tsutsumi emphasized that start-ups should not worry about their revenue at the early stages. “Problem identification and market size are more important,” he said.
As a venture capitalist, Tsutsumi expects start-ups to be able to explain a few basic things, such as the problems they confront and the corresponding solutions, who should settle the problems and the potential users or clients. These are the fundamental questions that Tsutsumi asks start-ups in Japan and China.
“If they can answer these simply, I would consider investing,” said Tsutsumi, who has more than a decade of experience in early stage tech investments.
Tsutsumi, who heads an overseas division of GREE, said the company planned to expand into the Indonesian markets this year. In fact, GREE is interested in a business alliance with Indonesian start-ups. His sponsorship of the Boost conference is also a strategy to introduce his venture capital firm to the Indonesian Internet community.
Ryu and Aldi emphasize that Boost is a nonprofit event, and prefer to call themselves volunteers. In fact, none of the speakers will be paid for their time. In return, however, Boost will pay for the cost of their trip to Jakarta along with a short excursion to Bali.
Aldi and Ryu call Boost a conference of entrepreneurs and investors for entrepreneurs and investors.
“We are basically using our networks from Japan and Silicon Valley, and none of these speakers are being paid to speak at Boost,” Ryu said.
“This is to promote Indonesia to the international tech community,” Aldi added.
The Boost general lecture will be open to the public for an admission fee of Rp 1 million ($110) for two people, while the workshop will be limited to 40 selected start-up groups handpicked by the Boost organizing team. A pre-event at Binus University on Monday featuring Hurley of YouTube will be free to the public.
Ryu said he expected the conference to be a useful networking event for Indonesians. He hoped it would end with further collaboration between the speakers and participants, and increase the survival rate of Indonesian start-ups.
And we’re back!! This is our first post in 2012, and I am so excited about this year, aren’t you? Here’s a good article to start your year with (I can’t say “day” as it is already mid of January). How many are you are technopreneurs and living in Indonesia? Do check out the event mentioned in the article above as I think this would be a great place to learn and build up your connection and network with the right people or the right groups. What kind of resolutions have you made for 2012? What kind of businesses you’d like to build in 2012? What’s your prediction of 2012’s economy? What would be the “main guy” in the year? please don’t think that the world will end in 2012 and you don’t feel like doing anything because you think the world is gonna end anyway. Share your thoughts with us!
And hey, if you’re going to the event, let’s meet up! I’ll see you there!