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?

Why Twitter Will Decline and Snapchat Will be the Next Big Thing in Indonesia

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Indonesia is huge. All the numbers are there, starting from its 250 million population, young age, mobile-first country, people having more than one smartphone, social media country as top 5 in terms of users for Facebook and Twitter. In fact, Twitter said that Jakarta is the Twitter capital city.

Yet, despite Indonesia making the worldwide trending topic over and over again, like what’s happening for Twitter outside Indonesia. Its unclear use-case or usage made the barrier of entry or usage pretty high for a country with small percentage of the population received higher level of education.

Why am I bringing the level of education to the play in this article? When I started using Twitter, I was mesmerized by how Twitter made it possible for me to say hello to my favourite artist, soccer players, and so on. Then, I moved on to following smart, funny, or insightful users. For a lot of Twitter users in Indonesia, they still see Twitter as a way to connect with their friends. Tweeting what they are doing and or chatting through mentioning their friends.

Back at my argument, with so many ways to chat or connect with your friends, Twitter loses more “general” users and only those who have or understand the use-case staying. For the past three to six months, I have never seen even one friend who opens up Twitter. In fact, some of my friends asked me “Oh you’re still using Twitter?”

Instagram is already the big thing in Indonesia. If you are famous on Instagram, people will talk about you. Instagram is also very simple and visual, so it attracts people to post every day, stalk your friends or crush, and or even for a simple usecase like following people who post awesome pictures. The barrier of entry is pretty low.

Here comes SnapChat, with no marketing push at all, I have seen more and more people using SnapChat starting with a simple use-case just like Twitter back then. Following artists with almost real time feeds of video made fans feel so much closer as if they are there with them.

The use-case also has very low barrier of entry. You don’t have to be smart/insightful like you’d probably need on Twitter. You don’t have to be able to showcase awesome pictures like on Instagram. In fact, Snapchat allows us to be free and post literally everything with no censors as it will all disappear within 24 hours or even faster if you send it privately. This creates a great user loop with people checking Snapchat for more contents.

Where does Path fall into this? I’d say Path will become the next Facebook where you will have your families and not so much of a close friends wanting to be friends with you. Although there’s the “Inner Circle” feature, you will still filter what you post (like what I’m doing). I use less and less of Path now and more Instagram and Snapchat. How about you? What do you think of Snapchat?

Looking Back and Looking Into the Future

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2015 flew so fast yet after reviewing the first half of 2015, the second half got even crazier. I traveled to several countries and so much more. Some of the highlights:

While that highlight reel seems like really awesome, in reality there are tons of hardships and pure grunt work while building the company that is Talenta. I am beyond blessed to have such friends, teammates, family, and investors, that is supporting my journey.

2016 is going to be the best year yet, I believe, as (some might believe, some might not) it is the year of Monkey (I am born in the year of Money, I mean Monkey). So, despite me not achieving most of my resolution last year, I’m going to keep it simple this year:

  • Work harder for Talenta. Harder doesn’t equal just putting hours in front of my laptop but it means how can I set a higher bar for myself and the team and push even harder. With this I believe we can raise our A and B round. So far we have grown to a team of 30 and I believe that it’s possible to double it again by the end of this year.
  • Write more and read more. This is something that has always been in my mind. In fact, it can be my life motto. By writing you can be a better storyteller and by reading you can discover so much more in the world vs watching a drama.
  • Travel more. If everything goes as planned, I’ll be traveling to Europe for the first time (yay!) and hopefully also watch the Euro 2016 final. Other than that I’d also be traveling to Taiwan for my sisters’ graduation. Hopefully I can go to one more new destination!
  • Earn more money, spend less of it. I’ve been pondering on a few small passive income projects and I really love creating and producing. The problem is, I also love/tend to spend more. I hope to spend less by decreasing my visits to the night clubs and also on shopping.
  • Simply be happy. One’s purpose of life can simply “be happy” – in fact a friend of mine recently told me so. Despite me being negative about it, I’ll try to embrace this and be more thankful of who I am and what I can do/have.

I do hope that instead of quantifying the resolutions, we can relatively achieve the goals that we have in this new year. It’s going to be another roller coaster ride, but I do hope that we can enjoy both the highs and the lows.

The Rise and Battle of Virtual Private Assistant in Indonesia

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Ever since Magic launched, and raised funding with $40m valuation. There has been a race to replicate the success in Asia, with BeMalas from Malaysia raised $500k, YesBoss from Indonesia raised from 3 prominent VCs, and also Nihao Concierge from Singapore. But I’m going to focus on the battle of HaloDiana and YesBoss in Indonesia.

HaloDiana, which was born inside SribuLancer backed by East Ventures and Infoteria is poised to battle YesBoss for Indonesia huge market. I believe that the timing and also the culture of Indonesian people are fitting of Magic style concierge service. The reason is that people here loves to be served, if you see in almost every place that involves paying or buying, we’d rather choose to be served than using a self-service machine. Example would be when I visited Blitzmegaplex on most malls, there are long lines of people queuing and few people on the self-service machine. Another reason, a lot of executives actually are served by personal assistant, hence, having virtual personal assistant like Diana or YesBoss, sort of boosted our “ego” and at the same time, super helpful since most of us are quite lazy to do simple things like “ordering your Gojek”

With all that mentioned though, I would highlight several key things that can make or break the Magic clones:

  • Scaling: As the services get popular and get used by more and more people, it will be a lot tougher to serve 10,000 people compared to say, few thousands people. YesBoss’ plan to create a Natural Language Processor are one way to do it. Otherwise, scaling the customer service team is needed. One of the advantages being based in Indonesia is that human resources are still relatively affordable compared to our neighboring countries. Other solution is to create a freemium model where paying members can be prioritized and served faster. If used frequently, I think people won’t mind paying $3-$5 per month.
  • Overreliant on on-demand services: As both players are built on top of the on-demand services such as Go-Jek, this creates a problem where if one of the deliveries are late for example, the one that is getting the blame is the services not the on-demand players. I saw my friend ranted against one of the two, but when I investigated, apparently it’s because of the courier. Another problem is the business model part, since so far both players are relying on making money from its partners/merchants, it puts the leverage on the partners, the revenue won’t be that big. Not to mention, there’s always a possibility of one of the on-demand services creating their own concierge service.
  • Low barrier of entry: Let’s say Magic expanded to Indonesia with millions of dollars in funding. I think that the model is actually have a low barrier of entry, proven with how fast HaloDiana is catching up with YesBoss (yes, I did consider that SribuLancer has bigger funding and well-positioned). Someone with huge capital can enter the market and erude the market share quite easily at this point.
  • Vertical private virtual assistant: in the Valley, there has been multiple Magic clones focusing on verticals instead of processing all requests. Such as Native for traveling, Vida for diet consulting, and more. As Nir Eyal discussed in his blog, Assistant as an App might be the next big thing and both YesBoss and HaloDiana might have bigger problem when the vertical players are coming in. For one, Travelio has developed its own travel concierge service, although focusing on its own inventory.

Despite all of the worries, the market is huge, and it’s ready for this kind of services. I’m definitely excited to see who will win and how they will try to beat each other on this rise of private virtual assistant.

Disclosure: Talenta is funded by East Ventures, also an investor in SribuLancer which creates HaloDiana.