Being a Founder is a Privilege

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Michael Pryor, CEO of Trello, was up on stage at SaaStr 2017 (a conference for Software as a Service/cloud software) and as I watched the interview with Jason Lemkin (SaaStr), he mentioned something that I’d love to highlight.

“I’d like to mention that I came from a very privileged background as a white male and with high education and a nice family to back me up”

Something similar to that.

And the point being, if he wasn’t all that, he might or he could not have started Trello.

While diversity and gender are all the rage in Silicon Valley, we might not highlight it enough in the SE Asia region, or specifically in Indonesia.

Events and conferences might not highlight or showcase this but if you dig deeper into funded startups in Indonesia, you can see a trend where most funded tech startups are founded by founders who have studied overseas and came back. In fact, 2 out of 3 unicorns in Indonesia are founded with such background. Which I’m kind of dumbfounded of a VC who announced they will only invest in such background, while the market reality is already happened that way.

Founders with such background has a safety net where they can take the highest risk and if the company was shut down – they will always can go back to their family business (however small or big they might be)

Despite not being part of such background, I still want to be thankful of the fact that I have a supportive family, I don’t have to work to support each and every one of my family, and even if I failed (knock wood) – I know I can find a decent job. I have all the time to learn languages by myself through the internet (fluent in English and Korean now). I definitely would state that I am privileged and thanking God for it.

This lack of diversity will also resulted in less snowball effect as the rich gets richer and might have less rags to riches story from tech. Again, I’d love to applaud William Tanuwijaya (which went to the same university as I did) as he might be the poster boy for that story.

Here’s to hoping there will be more diversity of (funded) startup founders in Indonesia and in the region.

Defining Value Driven Life with Vision and Passion

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Over the past 5 years of my 20s – I get to learn tons of things and things seems to be moving pretty fast over that duration of time. Personally, I got to graduate and worked at some pretty interesting companies making huge network of connections and ended up building Talenta for the past 3 years now. At the same time the ecosystem that I’m in have resulted 3 companies with more than $1b in valuation (Tokopedia, Traveloka, Go-Jek). Even further, the tech ecosystem globally has gone from Uber for X (on demand marketplace) to Artificial Intellegence, AR/VR, and cryptocurrency (Bitcoin, Ethereum, and more)

Realizing this, I feel the need to define my values, my vision, and my passion — to be the anchor and north star of my life. Otherwise I’ll be just following the current and ended up in a rat race.

My vision: is to be/to create a scalable solution to a huge problem specifically in Indonesia and generally the world. Which is why I’m in tech as it is the only way to scale a solution beyond solving problems for small circles.

Values or things that I want to relate myself into:

Maker – creating things (whether it’s writing, shooting a video, drawing comics, music, or any things) are a basic human responsibility and needs. I want to continue my goal of making valuable things vs consuming and being passive.

Movement – I want to relate myself to positive and impactful movements that can create change

Minimalism: I got this value from watching this documentary basically less is more. You should be able to pack your belongings in 1-2 suitcases. Owning too many things doesn’t make you happy – in fact more choices can lead you to being unhappy.

Mindfulness: Being mindful in the age of distractions (read: technology and especially our smartphones) is super important. Mindful of what you think, you eat, you read, or even what you do and who are you friends with.

Mentorship: Experience matters despite the pace of change in the world that we live in. That is why I believe in giving back through mentorship and also receiving it from someone I admire/trust. We need mentorship whether in faith, in business, in life, in love.

Things that I am passionate about:

Software: Just around 6 years ago the term Software is eating the world is “announced” by Marc Andreessen of Andreessen Horowitz the famous Venture Capital. It couldn’t be more true, essentially software (or tech) is touching every single things in our life.

Subscription: While William Tanuwijaya of Tokopedia have famously said that “marketplace is the most awesome/beautiful business model in the world” – I beg to differ, I believe that subscription is the best. While the past decade or two, we’ve only been familiar with subscriptions through its connection with media (newspaper, cable tv, Internet Service Providers) and at its core it is still going to be the biggest use case, I believe it will expand to more things like subscribing to your favorite restaurants or businesses.

Sleep: Despite the lack of it, I am intrigued, and thus became curious, and at the end became excited about sleep. Whether the supporting industry (supplements, or even the mattress) or the act and the knowledge of sleep itself. I believe that we need enough sleep to excel and perform in our waking hours and the world needs to be educated more on this.

Savior: God, and in this case (and the only case for me), Jesus Christ have changed my life. And I’m passionate about learning about Him and celebrating Him. I want to be influential and spread the word of God. Especially to non-believers.

I hope I can look back to this day and thanking my past self to have created this. Amen.

Hillsong Conference

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This might be a boring post for non-believers but hopefully even this post can convince some of you to start looking. I have been a Christian since I was born since it is the law here to actually have a religion. My dad was legally Buddhist and my mom is a Christian.

I went to a Christian school and even have a Christian class and even a Christian exam (!). Ended up remembering all the books of bible (10s to look for any verse) and all the stories inside. And yet — just like any teenagers I fell into a deep shithole of sins especially when my parents were divorced. What kind of shithole is for another post but the key thing here is that I wasn’t a devoted Christian at all.

And so, with no other direction but up — I ended up trying to “restart” my faith and actually going to the church with both curiosity and an open heart. I ended up receiving baptism, and like how everyone said it: the rest is history.

Few years after my baptism, I graduated from my uni, was pretty much in a “jaded” phase and or “rut” — I know i need to go somewhere and yet I was stuck. Somehow, God sent me a chance of a religious trip. My good friend and life mentor, Ronald Ishak – wasn’t able to go to his Hillsong Conference trip because he had to go to the United States.

All I had to pay was my accomodation and foods while there – an offer too good to resist — not long after going there, Talenta was born.

Fast forward again another few years, 2017, I honestly felt that we have built something that people want and need, and yet I’m stuck in terms of growth. At the same time, I felt like despite all the achievements — I’ve also have built a stack of sins. Somehow, God answered this again with Hillsong Conference trip. God sent another friend to sponsor and actually went together with me for this trip. (Thank you Ko Jeffrey Gunawan!)

And this are several things I learned this trip:

1) We have to wait and pray in expectation to God. It doesn’t mean that God must do what you want or what you tell Him, but when you ask, God will give it to you.

2) This is just the start, not the endThis particular words resonated with me really deeply because I was feeling tired and hitting this wall I couldn’t go through. I thought that the blessing is ending, yet God said — I just got started :)

3) Don’t just SEE, but LISTEN. Sometimes, all we can focus on is what we see (currently). All we can see is the battle that we are losing (in our daily life) but when you close your eyes, and listen – Holy Spirit is saying that you are winning the WAR!

4) God is raising Kings and Queens in this world. We are our own influencer in our community. We are destined to become something big — and no matter how “small” we thought we are – God want to use us.

5) Holy Spirit isn’t (always) something that you watch or you see externally. Holy Spirit should be something internally, and feeling extraordinaryThe reason this is also part of the things I note is because recently churches started practicing “speaking in tongue” as if we can only have Holy Spirit if we do it. Meanwhile, God is reminding us it’s not about something exceptional that you should see but actually WE should be exceptional in our life.

6) Fastest way to kill something special is to compare. Comparison made you inferior or superior and neither are God. This is actually something that (again) resonated with me — especially in the era of social media where we just can’t seem to stop comparing ourselves to our friends or even a complete stranger.

7) Father in heaven waited for more than 20 years (CMIIW) to “announce” Jesus. Jesus doesn’t need an announcement — but what God wants to tell us is that you may be anointed but not announced, don’t wonder why you have to wait so long to be successful, to be blessed, to be rich, to be famous, to be smart. God has His own time.

I believe that God will (again) put something special into work for me and my life — and I can’t wait to share that with you. God bless you all :)

Time to Restart

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Whenever I said “time flew”, the next time I said it again, it will feel as if time move even faster than the last time. There is several reasoning. But I’m definitely feeling both excited and scared at the same time.

I turned 25 just over two months ago, despite all of my achievements, turning twenty five felt like I hit this invincible wall where I can’t see it unless I step back from the spot. I question every things that I did, I built, friends I have made and lost, relationship that was supposed to be good and the one that started and felt so good (I love you, Hyojeong)

Just like IU’s song — now that I’m 25, I know what I like and what I dislike. It feels okay now not going out on the weekend and just sleep in and or binge watch Netflix (Jessica Henwick — I can watch her all day).

Now, let’s talk beyond myself. This lebaran holiday (10 days) is such a perfect moment to sit back and restart things — review what we did for the past 6 months and answer what will we do in the next 6 months so it can be a great year.

One of the things that I kept breaking is to exercise at least once a week, to read a book at least one book per month, and to keep exercising my writing skills over this blog. This time I’m not going anywhere, this time I want to restart myself, resting mentally and physically and then run again with my team at Talenta.

How about you?

It’s a Payment War not Ridesharing Battle

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As it became official today — Kudo has just been acquired by Grab. This just confirmed my theory that I fought for in a WhatsApp conversation with a startup friend: This SE Asia region war isn’t in the ridesharing, but actually in the payment space — and Uber might be losing out.

Let’s look back and track how the two companies are doing it:

GoJek — yes they started with a ridesharing, and then expanded even more successfully in the food delivery space: GoFood. After that it keeps adding more use-cases (Go Massage, Go Glam, and more) and became an on-demand platform (for platform play, see WeChat in China).

At first, I was thinking that GoJek was aiming to become WeChat indeed — adding all things into one app and become the go to platform in our daily life. I heard they are even on the verge of closing a $1B round from Tencent (HA!)

After launching their payment platform, GoPay, and basically just subsidize the whole lot of usecases for the sake of people pumping money inside its wallet. Now, I’m confirmed that in fact this is a payment war.

It is the war to actually banking the unbanked

if you think about it GoJek are creating its own ecosystem with its drivers — they are essentially the drivers’ bank by holding their income and in fact even enabling them to buy things through its payment system. Imagine this: whatever things that GoJek sell to its drivers — most likely they might buy it e.g. micro insurance or even loan.

With GoJek present in technically all big cities and potentially all cities, it has the (huge) potential to become THE bank for people who are usually out of reach from the traditional banks.

Now on top of that growing ecosystem is also all the middle class who are becoming more and more used to using GoJek that having millions on its GoPay system are a norm now.

Back to the big news of the day (congratulations for Albert and Agung — you two never cease to amaze me, and can’t thank you guys enough to be our early paying customers), at the other side of the arena, Grab is a bit too late in expanding its use-cases, such as its GrabFood (May 2016) and even its payment system.

While its ride-sharing market share isn’t far from GoJek, it has to add more users and more use-cases to its platform to make the payment (or digital bank) works. Kudo, who’s basically went from 0 to $100m (the unconfirmed value of the acquisition) in just 2 years, has tens of thousands agents on the field who are giving access to:

a) e-commerce for those who aren’t familiar with it and doesn’t even trust it and, b) banking the unbanked again by its payment platform

By buying Kudo, Grab gained access to its ever expanding ground workers who are acquiring more and more users. While this might not beat GoPay, yet, it is a step in the right direction and in my opinion — they might be buying Kudo while it still can :)

I’m going to close this post with two predictions:

1) Similar players to Kudo such as Ruma (one of the most awesome – yet under the radar startup by the way!) and or Kioson might be on the radar of GoJek to expand its payment user base

2) GoJek might not be acquired by a “similar” player such as Uber and or Didi but in fact payment players such as Ant Financial.

What do you think? :)

What You Need

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God gives you what you need not what you want.

I’m not even sure I’m quoting the right sentence but this is what I remember. It is so much easier to blame God of not getting what we want despite us getting what we need.

For the past few years — I’ve been exactly getting what I need, I won’t make this a long detailed post but just two very “random” acts of God:

1) There was a tech event where we can put in our namecard and at the end of the event the winners will get prizes. The #1 prize was an iPad which was still quite a rare product. I was wishing for that product yet I was #3 and what I got? A huge suitcase (and a smaller one inside) just in time for my years of travelling. I never owned/bought any suitcase before and I’m still using it even today.

(I believed it was held by Merah Putih – Pak Antonny Liem handed me my gift)

2) I’ve never really had a proper bag for work. What I had was combination of those trendy bags for uni students and half professional looking leather bag from Coach. When we entered Google Launchpad, we got this awesome backpack from Google where I can put my laptop, ipad, phones, pencils, and everything on its respected pockets. With someone who is as forgetful as me, this is really really handy and again —

God gives what we need. We should be more thankful :)

Mindfulness

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Lately this is the keyword that has been prominently filling my mind, especially as we get to the end of the first quarter of 2017. I felt like I haven’t done as much as the time spent and I realized failing to plan is basically a plan to fail.

One of the things I realized I’ve been doing a lot for the past few months are constantly unlocking the iPhone – reaching out to the Instagram app icon on the dock – and just keep scrolling and liking and watching Stories. Without realizing that 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or even an hour passed by.

I’ve been also playing this game Tower Keepers. At first it was just to fill my waiting time or maybe when I’m in the traffic. Now, I kept opening the app, for the sake of spending the “energy”, adding that I have to watch a 1min ad every time I finish a “fight” – I rarely spend less than 15 mins.

(Read: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/feb/28/how-technology-gets-us-hooked)

After reading some articles on the topic, one of the definition that I like is this: What is mindfulness? Refer to Jon Kabat-Zinn’s traditional definition of mindfulness: it is a way of paying attention to, and seeing clearly whatever is happening in our lives. The attention paid is purposeful, in the moment, without judgment. It’s about having the time and space to attend to what is ahead of us, in spite of distractions competing for our attention and our past history that shapes how we think and perceive the world.

I think most of the time we spend the day, week, month, without realizing what we spend our time for. The opposite of being mindful is just procrastinating or spending your time to do unproductive things or worse, doing bad things to yourself. Ever since I read these articles I have:

Moved Instagram outside the dock and even to the last page of my iPhone. This way I spend less time on Instagram per day. The least I want to do is to spend more time reading book vs scrolling through Instagram. I’m even considering to delete the app from my phone and just access it from time to time from the web.

Spend less time on the game and currently thinking to delete the game this month.

Started planning my month, week, and thus days better. I really want to spend an effort to make my day more productive including ending the day knowing that I have created more than I have consumed.

What do you think about mindfulness and have you did anything to create the culture of mindfulness in yourself?

Yet Another Best Year Yet!

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I am still amazed that I can keep saying this year in year out. 2016 was nothing short of incredible for me. Another year full of travels. Wanted to update this blog earlier in the year but the past 3 months has been awesome that I kept pushing this day by day. Finally get to update this!

2016:

January:

Celebrated the New Year with the BFFs at Sentosa

Starting the year with all hands on deck meeting at Talenta and our monthly dinner

Reunited with my sisters

H Island weekend out

Watched Justin Kan (YC Partners & Founder of Twitch – $1B exit to Amazon) keynote/on-stage interview on a weekend.

February:

Growing Talenta’s family dinner

My sister’s – Michele’s birthday

Chinese New Year! The year of Monkey!

Went back to Medan, my dad’s hometown!

Did a keynote at Clapham conference

Another keynote at GnB Accelerator launch.

March:

Participated in Wirausaha Muda Mandiri 2016 at Jogjakarta

Exhibited at Binus Job Expo 2016

Finally visited Borobudur!

Traveled to Bali for PMSM (HR organization) event and had a break there

Given a chance to create a profile for myself by Enricko Lukman.

April:

Trip to Korea (Tagging along with CIDAuto team to their team retreat, saw the cherry blossom with my sister, shared my experience to Korean startup scene)

East Ventures’ SaaS meetup

April Talenta family dinner

Attended Tech in Asia Singapore 2016 which coincided with my birthday

24th birthday dinner with people that I became close with in 2016

First ever East Ventures Career Day

Opening of new East Ventures Hive

May:

My first ever uni friend got married

First ever Talenta HR gathering

Got into Google’s Launchpad Accelerator

Moved into Talenta new office

Attended my first ever Korean wedding

Had our first ever Talenta outing to an island without any reception or even electricity at day

Shared my journey in front of one of the biggest university in Surabaya

Watched Dimitri Vegas Like Mike

June:

Traveled to Taiwan for my sister’s graduation and also the youngest sister’s birthday(probably the only birthday in the family where the whole family is in the same town for a while now)

UMF KOREA 2016 (Garrix was sick and Van Buuren crazy!)

Landed in SF for Google Launchpad 2016 – wrote a piece about the experience.

Blk 71 San Fransisco! (SG startup founders would relate)

Google booked the whole ferry for our Golden Gate Bridge tour

Went for Yosemite and Bay Bridge tour

Finally checked “Skydiving” off my bucketlist 

Profiled by Asianentrepeneur.org

July:

New York, New York, finally! Went to:

Brooklyn – Times Square – Insight Venture Partners’ nice office – Grand Central Terminal – Top of the Rock NYC – Statue of Liberty – NASDAQ (NYSE) – Ate the original Halal Guys – MoMA – Brooklyn Bridge

Las Vegas! Went for a 4th of July party with Christina Suria (Steve Aoki!)

Had our largest town hall in 2016

East Ventures Founders meetup: Scaling organization

Back to Jogja for mentoring and judging of Fenox Startup WorldCup event

Interviewed by MNC TV for Google Launchpad experience

August:

Announced our funding led by Skystar Capital and East Ventures.

Pitched at Fenox Startup World Cup event in Jakarta

Covered by InfoKomputer magazine

Celebrated Indonesia Independence Day with the team

September:

Did our next HR gathering 

Our office is covered by Tech in Asia

Talenta’s management team dinner

Second Korean wedding ever!

Covered by Metro TV!

Celebrated Talenta’s 2nd birthday!

October:

Probably the most beautiful Bali wedding in my life so far

Halloween party with the gang

November:

Speaking at a panel for IWIC 2016

Singapore trip with bae

Speaker in two panels of Tech in Asia Jakarta 2017- always fun!

Interviewed by Billy Boen at Young on Top radio!

Talenta HR gathering with Googlers as a speaker

December:

Ended the year with Korean trip and started the year right

Christmas is Not (Just) a Celebration, but a Reminder

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It’s Boxing Day today and you probably had scrolled through tons of Christmas dinner posts, even you probably uploaded one yourself. Despite it’s festivity and all the sale and discounts you see in the malls or even online, I chose to take the meaning of Christmas this year rather differently.

I went to Christmas celebration on the 24th in NDC (Nafiri) at Baywalk Pluit. The theme was Christmas is a Miracle. Why? Because in the Jesus’ birth itself is a miracle. Virgin Mary give birth to our Savior, and indeed until today His miracles still exists, even amongst ourselves.

The meaning of Christmas stressed out even more by the service on the Christmas Day at my church, Gereja Kemah Tabernakel. Pak Handoyo Santoso clearly reminded us of how Jesus is NOT a baby anymore (despite how He is pictured on every Christmas, year in year out). He should grow in our life and we SHOULD let Him take over.

We always feel like we can’t handle the pressure or the problems that we are facing, that’s because we still rely on our own strength, we believe that our power is strong enough to handle anything. But, if you choose to do the opposite, if you choose to let Him take over to handle your problems, imagine how easy it is for God who has created miracles in this world to solve your problems.

This service really hits me because I do felt that this year I have let myself on the front seat and even didn’t let Him on the passenger seat as I feel my life gets better. I get big headed or cocky sometimes, I became arrogant and even bailed on going to church more often than not. Because of this, these past couple of months, more than a few problems, hit me in my face. I feel like I couldn’t handle most of it. This really reminded me to kneel in front of God and really, let Him take over. Let him take control. Let His will be done in my life.

The verse that I got for 2017 is another reminder for me (At Gereja Kemah Tabernakel, we got 1 verse every year on Christmas to help us and remind us of next year) – Psalm 7:18

I will give glory to the Lord according to his justice: and will sing to the name of the Lord the most high.

God reminded me to give thanks of what He has done in my life, and of what is yet to come. And I can’t thank Him enough of what He helped me achieve in my life. I really can’t wait for 2017 and I really want to let Jesus take control of my life and create miracles in my life.

Merry Christmas and God bless you :)

Content Marketing in Indonesia

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On my previous post, I argued that Snapchat is going to win over Twitter in Indonesia. Adding to that, I think one of the reasons were simply Indonesians (or majority of us) are lazy to read texts. They would prefer images (Instagram) and videos (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat). If you go to any cafes in Jakarta (I wouldn’t judge people outside of the capital just yet), it would be a rare occurrence to see someone reading a book, most of the time their hands would be swiping the smartphone.

Relating that to my point on this post, we are currently doing Talenta – a Software as a Service (or a cloud software, to put it simply) for Human Resource management especially on Payroll. Taking the best example of marketing a B2B software in the United States or generally in the West, one of the ways are through content in its blogs. I still believe that is not the case here in Indonesia. With the facts above, I think the best strategy for a B2B software/startup/product/services is still an offline interaction. Yet.

 

This post is part of my commitment to write 100 words a day for 100 days. Join me?