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.