July

Just like that, the first half of 2015 has passed us by. Not sure about you, but I really feel like the time is getting faster and faster. They say that from age 1-20 it feels super long but once you hit 20s, it starts to get fast. I’ve been super thankful and grateful of what has happened or what I did so far in 2015:

Looking back, I felt like I have done tons of things and these are only the highlights of what is a great year so far. I’m really looking forward to the second half of this year where things can only get even better. In fact, I’m starting to remind myself of my New Year’s resolution such as losing weight (I’ve started going to sports club – did 15 laps of swimming today) and also writing more, and reading more (I want to finish all the Game of Thrones books by end of year).

How was yours?

Turning 23

So I just turned 23 last week, 12th of April, to be exact.

And – I just realized that the reasons grown-ups doesn’t really celebrate their birthdays anymore is that the older you get, the reality hits you even harder. All of the expectations and responsibilities are getting bigger and heavier as you go older. It just started hitting on me.

Ever since I turned into my 20s, I have this expectation that I set for myself. I’m going to settle down when I turned 30, and which by then I can focus more on my family instead of working my ass off all week and missing out on the family time like a lot of dads did. With that being said, it’s like a clock ticking or counting down on me. “7 more years, Josh, 7 more.”

Some of my friends laughed me off and said “Dude, you’re only 23, don’t be so tough on yourself” or “I can’t even remember what I was doing when I was in my early 20s, probably playing and slacking off, cheer up”. But, comparing myself to rich or successful young people pushes me to pressure myself even further. Which sometimes, either stressed me out or my body just can’t take it and turned sick.

I also realized that time is moving even faster and you just have less to no time nowadays. Which, in turn, making all your time seems much more precious to you. I picked which meetings or events I would attend, I picked which friends or groups that would value my time more, I picked which TV series that I’d watch. Picked being more selective.

The past 3 years of my life in the 20s has been nothing but awesome. I hope my 23 is going to be even more awesome. Thank you for being part of my life and see you around!

Two Hours

You can name it 120 minutes, 7200 seconds, or whatever. That’s how long I would spend nearly every day on the road. If we do the math, I would spend 60 hours per month and 720 hours per year. Which equals to one month per year. This is not exactly a complaining post, I know a lot of people who would spend 3, 4, or even 5 hours per day commuting from and to Jakarta on the weekdays.

I’m just imagining a better Jakarta, with all the MRT and better TransJakarta, which would allow us set our schedule without being late. Which would get all the employees be on the office on time, and wouldn’t be wanting to go home earlier to get ahead of the traffic. Would allow us to do or get more opportunities. To be honest, sometimes I cancel or postpone my meeting if it’s around the peak hours. OR if it’s really important, I would stay over at the meeting place until 8 or 9 just to stay out of the crazy rush hours.

To be honest, I’m not surprised that jobseekers nowadays are putting location to top of the consideration beside salary and benefits. I know a friend who was doing an awesome job at a startup, but she decided to move just because she felt tired and exhausted commuting to the office and having less energy to work. Now, she’s working in an office 10 minutes from her house and she’s doing even better there.

So, how many hours do you spend commuting per day? And what you’re doing when you’re commuting? (let’s say if you’re not driving)

Creating a Productive Weekend

There is a good reason why people say TGIF or Thank God it’s Friday. The next two days (after Friday) are the break or a breather from our routine. Some are spending it with their family, some partying with friends, some having a date with their girlfriend or boyfriend. For me, I realize that after I made the decision to start my own company, it is a pitstop. I spent most of the weekend getting more sleep or catching up with TV series or K-Dramas.

But then it kinda hit me that time is moving even faster. This kinda scares me, and to be honest I didn’t do anything productive while I’m at home on the weekdays, most of the time I got home exhausted and after reading some articles/Tempo/watching one episode of anything, I sleep right away. I felt like I need to do something more on the weekend.

It doesn’t have to be related with the work (in my case, Talenta), although sometimes I spent Sunday night preparing what to do over the week, I leave it nearing the end of the day. I decided I want to do or at least start to do these things:

  • Read books. I’ve always read a couple of pages here and there over the weekdays. Weekend is supposed to be the time where I can do much more than just a few pages.
  • Writing. Whether it’s a blog post like this or regarding the tech industry, if I can do one post per weekend, that would be cool. Or it can be in a form of newsletter (Jon Russell inspired me to do one for Indonesia)
  • Podcast. I’ve always been wanting to do a podcast but there’s always a reason to delay (no time, didn’t have any proper mic, etc) but this year let’s just start with whatever equipment I have and do it on a bi-weekly period.
  • Working out. Time is limited on the weekdays. I should make more time to exercise on the weekend.
  • Doing a YouTube channel. With the video consumption rate going nowhere but up, there is so much opportunity to actually do a quality/niche and get traction in the current market. Moreover, Google Indonesia seems to be promoting more and more local content producers.

How about you? Do you have any plans to make your weekends productive?

Branding an Enterprise Software

We are at the last phase or stage on our product building and we’re going to launch our public beta very soon (Excited!). With this in mind, we recruited a Sales team and also someone who is more or less experienced with branding. I realized that most enterprise software nowadays act just like consumer apps. They have a “character” or a brand.

To be honest, I wasn’t thinking about it at all before I brainstormed with them. All I can think of is building, building, and building the product and just sell it to as many companies as I can. I was totally reminded on the past few days that in fact, we ARE selling to humans too. We sell to the HR managers and the founders of companies – although we are a B2B/Enterprise Software.

I’m quite unsure how many of you reading this will be on the same journey of building an enterprise software but it is an interesting question when people ask you “How do you want to brand your enterprise software?” – to which I answer “I want to be the Uniqlo of HR software – simple, affordable, but they have an awesome quality”.

Slack and or HootSuite is a B2B software that I am quite inspired in terms of branding, how Slack is perceived as cool, awesome, and simply the best communication tools out there (at least for me). While HootSuite has this friendly owl as its mascot. One of our sales staff also mentioned Zendesk’s Buddha to which she said “I might not remember what Zendesk is, but I definitely remember the Buddha”.

So if you do have experience in branding an enterprise software, would love your feedbacks or probably share it to your friends?

On Growing

As I have just posted this morning on Facebook, as per January, we are a team of 15:

teamtalenta

Except our intern, everyone is here. More than half of us are focusing on the product side. We just recruited a few people on the Sales team too, getting ready for the launch. I hope this is just a start of something bigger. There’s a lot of excitement for sure, but lots of responsibility too.

If you think I magically recruited 15 people out of thin air, you’re wrong. I would say that this is what thousands of messages on LinkedIn, hundreds of interviews, and a lot of e-mails get you. Recruitment is a full-time job, and as a founder (moreover, solo founder), this takes most of your time (except product).

In fact, I’d love to say to any founders, soon-to-be founders, or bootstrapping founders. IF you think, creating awesome product is hard, try scaling the team. Even William from Tokopedia has hinted of hiring abroad thinking how hard it is to hire/recruit here. Doing startup is hard, convincing other people to join your journey is even harder.

All the best for Indonesia startup founders in 2015 and would love your take on recruitment in Indonesia if you have different opinion (perhaps you can hire tens of developers in 1 week? – we’d love to be your client).

Tokopedia Funding and its Effect For Indonesia Startup Ecosystem

So, Tokopedia has just raised $100m funding by Softbank and Sequoia. Who is Tokopedia you ask?

A little background (if you’re from Indonesia you can skip this): Tokopedia is the leading e-commerce startup in Indonesia on a C2C marketplace model. Its tagline is the biggest online shopping mall in Indonesia, meaning that most of the shops in Tokopedia are small and medium businesses that actually are depending on Tokopedia on their livelihood. Sounds familiar? Yes, you can say Tokopedia is like Indonesia’s Taobao. Even its CEO has often said that he see Jack Ma as his role model.

So far the startup has raised multiple round of funding from East Ventures, CyberAgent Ventures on 2011, Netprice on 2012, Softbank Ventures Korea last year. As it still operating on a free transaction model, it has little to no revenue thus has to depend on the funding and they have raised almost every year if you keep track on them

Now that we have put that away, my take on how this would effect the Indonesia startup ecosystem:

  • This proves that funding rounds and the money that is going into Indonesia and generally Southeast Asia are getting bigger and bigger. As Justin Hall famously called here: The Rise of Holy Shit Money in SEA
  • E-commerce is very close to a tipping point/mature period. I predict that Tokopedia won’t be the last e-commerce that has raised a whopping round. My prediction Traveloka will raise a mid to high 8-figure-round too soon. Followed by other verticals.
  • As e-commerce matures, VCs and investors will start to invest in other business models as well. Next wave can be on the B2B/Enterprise/SaaS startups.
  • This one is more of a hope: as startups are getting more attention and success stories, we will see more and more people start a startup or at the very least, increasing value for startups as a place to work at.
  • This is truly is the time to start your business as the money that is going into Indonesia are really getting bigger and bigger – it is huge. Though it doesn’t mean you should start a startup just for the sake of it.

What do you think? Tweet me @jshkvn and let me know your opinion

P.S. Congratulations to William and Leon. You guys have always been my role model ever since I first met you guys!

Independence in God

Taken from 2 Corinthians 3:17

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

The true independence or freedom is indeed when we are in God. We are free from the punishment of our deadly sin, we are free from the devil that is trying to get us each and every day, so if you feel trapped and scared, receive freedom in God. Because only in Him, you receive a true and eternal freedom.

Happy Independence Day, Indonesia!

 

Why We Need To Work a Little Bit Harder

Don’t work too hard. Have a work and life balance. Enjoy life. These are some of the things you see in blogs or websites lately advising us to do less work and have more time off, and disconnect. I’m not saying that it’s wrong or false, all of these are really really good, but when you apply this advice to our country, Indonesia? I personally would say that it’s a bit misplaced. Why?

Indonesia has a very laid back culture. There, I said it. This is something that we all admit. We tend to or prefer to have more meetings than to do the actual work. We really, really, like to hang out and chill in a cafe or a bar with our friends. Lunch hour is literally an hour because we spent more time talking than actually eating. Again, there’s always two sides of coin to everything, but we certainly not a country that you can describe as “hard working”.

This culture has made a lot of foreign companies or management teams coming from abroad, surprised or sometimes, dumbfounded. Because we ask for a higher salary, yet sometimes we arrive late and always waiting for 6pm to come sooner so we can just go right away (in Bahasa Indonesia we call this “teng-go”, when the bell rings, we just go). We have a tendency to “work slowly” or in Bahasa Indonesia “Santai aja/Selow aja”  and when the deadline came, sometimes miracle happen and you “finished your work” (you can define the meaning of the quote).

Obviously, this stereotype doesn’t apply to everyone or the whole country (it applies to me too), if you are working hard already, that’s awesome. And if you say “work smart, not work hard” – yes, but can you apply that to the whole work force? Some might not be able to do the former, but I believe that everyone can pretty much do the latter.

But, but, we have potential, a huge one, in fact our nation is predicted to be in the top 10 of global economy in the future. If you have been reading about Indonesia over the past few years, we have been hearing, writing, mentioning, talking, pitching, about Indonesia potential for quite a while now. This is what I am afraid will happen: that we will be complacent, that we will keep saying we have potential but we never know when it will unfold. Why? Because we are not working hard enough.

I tweeted that almost two weeks ago and I really meant every words of it. If you see Japan’s successes, and now China and Korea too. It was all built on a foundation of working hard. In fact, it’s not a surprise anymore that you heard about people getting sick or even worse because of overworking. They eat their lunch quickly, and get back to work right away. Even in Korea, there is a culture where students in the university would take a gap year or sometimes more than one year, because they know, once they graduated, there is no “life” anymore for them. But if it isn’t for hard work of that tens of millions (for China it’s hundreds of millions) of people, I don’t think they will be where they are right now. Alibaba’s $150b valuation? All because of hard work. (Please do watch Crocodile of the Yangtze to prove my words – it’s an awesome documentary)

Another thing that has been mentioned about Indonesia is that right now and for the next 20 years, Indonesia will have a golden generation because of our demographics. Again, this is a potential not a sure win. What if you have tens of millions of young people or generation but they are not skilled worker, they prefer to post pictures to Instagram compared to learning something new like coding or a new language, they prefer to read 9gag over “thick books” (Even Harry Potter is too much to read). The potential bubble will be burst and we might have more unemployment rather than a productive young workforce.

That is why I think in this post, as someone who wants Indonesia to succeed and exceed all the prediction (like you do), I would love if we can work just a little bit harder. It doesn’t have to be in a form of staying over in the office one more hour without doing anything, but it can be reading more books, it can be learning to code, it can be learning new skills or languages. I think rather than speaking to all the people, I’d dedicate this post to people who are between 15 years old-30 years old. Because the next 20 years will be on us, not on anybody, but on us.

This isn’t even specifically for tech/digital/internet industry because if we go there, we have two potential here: either we own our market by having locally made products/company founded by Indonesian succeeding or we just sit in our comfort zone: Googling everything because we just don’t want to think, liking pictures or stalking on Facebook, posting what you’re doing on Twitter, scrolling and double tapping on Instagram, and updating your sleeping hours on Path –  resulting in a scenario where we only became a market for foreign companies. I wish that Indonesia will not be the latter, but the former.

If this post offended you, it’s good, it means that I hit the right target. If this post resonates with you, please share it to your social media. If you have opinion, would love to hear it on the comments or tweet me: @jshkvn – I prefer not to hear a quick reply or comments such as but we want to enjoy life OR but we have to have a work and life balance.

How Baptism Changed My Life

Disclaimer: I think this post might be too religious for some, so if you think you can’t read something around that topic, I guess you can stop reading.

Today at the church our pastor, Handoyo Santoso, preached about how we should stay strong or persevere until the end. From Alpha to Omega, and he quoted this from Revelation 22:13

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. 

The pastor said that God nor Jesus doesn’t have a beginning or an end. He’s been there all along, and He will still be there forever. But what God meant in this verse is for us, we begin our true Christian life through Him in baptism and reaching the finish line when He came again to this world. Today’s preach or specifically this verse, inspired me to write this post.

I have been Christian ever since I was born into this world with a reason that my mom is Christian. I went to Sunday school sometimes and since my school from pre-school up to senior high school is built by Christian institution, having a class where we read bible and sing a song for God is becoming just an activity for me, just like having a sport class. Although I believe in Him, I never really give my all or put a serious thought about my Christianity.

It has to wait until senior high school, when I fell into the deepest misery ever in my life. If there was hell on earth, I was in one. I ashamed myself in front of my friends, I lost most if not all of my best friends, and the worst thing is I kept disappointing my parents. (No, it’s not about school grades, it was much much worse) I felt like there is no way up, sometimes even the thought of killing myself had became an option back then. I can’t tell you what I did, but if I do, you would look at me differently.

A couple of months after the incident, I started going to a church, the same one as the current one I regularly go on Sundays. I started to seriously pray and I just felt like there is no one else to talk to but to God. After becoming an official member of the church, I applied to be baptized. Usually you have to go for 6 straight months without any absent, but somehow me and my sisters (I have two younger sisters) were getting a call that the appointment was advanced and we were getting baptized in two weeks.

We did it. My youngest sister get Phoebe, the older one get Priscillia, and I got Joshua. I wasn’t that excited back then but when I read the whole book of Joshua, I realized that he is in fact is more successful than Moses, he got to the land of promise and most importantly, the name means: God saves. If this is an article on Upworthy, it would be titled: “You Won’t Believe What Happened After He Got Baptized”

For the past few years after I got baptized and actually wore the name Joshua on all of my internet profile also when I met new people. I used to introduce myself as Kevin but now I’d say my name is Joshua. Not just my name is changed, my entire life changed. I have managed to:

  • Work at East Ventures, one of the most active Venture Capital in Indonesia based in Singapore, headed by Willson Cuaca and Batara Eto (co-founder and ex-CTO of Mixi $5b internet company in Japan)
  • Work at Tech in Asia, the TechCrunch of Asia. Held Startup Asia conferences in Singapore and Indonesia. They have now expanded to more than 50 people and holding a Tokyo conference in a month.
  • Work at KakaoTalk, where I was the Indonesian on the small team back then as a Community Manager. Helped them to reach more than 10 million downloads, now it’s a public company (after merger with Daum) and in Jakarta it has more than 30 employees.
  • Travel to Singapore super often, back then it was a luxury to even fly to Singapore but ever since I start working, it feels like a home away from home
  • Traveled to Seoul, South Korea. It is one of the hottest destination nowadays, visited KakaoTalk office, and did almost all the touristy stuff. Went there alone, came back with more than 10 Korean friends that I met at BeLaunch 2013 – the biggest startup conference in Seoul.
  • Went to the United States for a month. Mostly in San Fransisco. Did a West Coast trip, from Hollywood, LA to Las Vegas to Grand Canyon.
  • Went to Alaska with a grand cruise (to be exact it’s a Norwegian Pearl – NCL Cruise). Probably the first 21 years old from Indonesia who did this trip without bankrolled by rich parents.
  • In fact, managed to did all above with my own money that I saved from all the work I have done.
  • Went to Hillsong Conference 2014 in Sydney this summer. Sponsored by Ronald Ishak and Grace.
  • And this year also managed to raise small investment to start my own company that is trying to disrupt the HR industry through technology.

All of these were done in less than 5 years, and in fact these are just the highlight reel, I received so much more important things like friends. All of these happened after I received baptism. So, if you are a Christian, why wait so long to get committed to your faith? Get baptized and feel the difference of living with God and on the road to the Omega, which is heaven. God bless you all :)

This post might seem to surreal and feels like a bragging post (I really hope it doesn’t sound like that) but what I hope is to inspire more people. I’m still the same human who isn’t perfect and make or do sins in my daily life, but what is different is that now I make less of them, I “think” before I do it, I try to limit the sins I make. Thank you for reading this!