Living in a Bubble

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Lately, I have been thinking that I’ve been living in a bubble. At first, perhaps it’s organic, but as it goes on, maybe it’s deliberate.

When I look around, most of my friends and close friends are working in tech and or owns a business in some form. Creating an echo chamber of first world problems and sometimes, superficial thoughts.

When I watch (yes I know it’s a scripted reality TV) series like Terrace House, I found myself being envious of the situation or opportunity of actually making friends with people in various jobs and backgrounds.

Lately, I’m becoming more afraid that I live in a bubble that I created on my own. And feeling a little bit trapped.

Documentation

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When building a product, we all hear this all the time. A great developer is someone who will do a great documentation whether it’s their code, building an API, and so on.

I’d like to expand this thought into a larger perspective. Why don’t we document our professional life more? Whether you are a founder who just started a company, an employee inside a fast growing or even a unicorn company, or a business owner who have been doing a business for a decade or more.

I think why people don’t do this more often is they feel: I have to write publicly, and if I did, what if no one reads it or someone doesn’t like it?

My thought: documenting our professional life (progresses, challenges, problem and what I did to solve that) will help you compare how much you have grown over the past 1,2,5,10 years.

Creating a documentation also helps when you became a mentor and realizing that one of the problems that is being faced by people you coach is something you’ve faced before. Documenting more things also help to create clarity as we are absorbing unlimited information than ever before. We can’t rely 100% on our brain.

Sabbatical

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One word that is a tad taboo in this hustleporn world: Sabbatical. Googled the formal meaning of Sabbatical: a period of paid leave granted to a university teacher or other worker for study or travel, traditionally one year for every seven years worked.

I think that as a human being, not a machine, we need to pause and have a long stretched rest. There are several companies that actually gave a month of time-off after you worked for 4-5 years.

I was very privileged (thank God) to actually took this sabbatical when I officially left Mekari mid last year. I planned for 2-3 months off, but circumstances and no irresistible offer made me extend my sabbatical to end of the year. In total, I took 6 months of rest. Worth it? Totally

Most people I met pre and post sabbatical told me that I looked “fresh” and that’s an obvious as I was burnt out after running a startup for 5 years. I’m not gonna lie though, I do get FOMO when my founder friends kept raising big rounds while I sit around doing nothing. Yet, my theme of 2020 onwards: compare to no one, but yourself.

Remote Ready Organization

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Working remote seems to not only gained momentum but became mainstream nowadays yet not because we want to but because we have to. Back when I was running Talenta, I would never feel that we could go remote wholly as an organization. Yes, of course, for the product team especially developers we always have flexible hours, even we’d allow occasional remote working. For business team? I didn’t think so, and up until Q1 2020, I don’t think I ever will.

COVID19 changed everything because it forced all businesses to go remote or else. In this experience that I realized as I went through it in the organization that I’m working for and comparing it with my circle whether it’s my founders friend or brick and mortar business like my dad’s — it is important to be ready. I’m quite privileged to be part of an organization that pride itself on independence and as we entered 5th month of remote — I didn’t see a drop in productivity, in fact, I’m seeing people working extra because we’re in the war season.

COVID19 made me realize that organizations need to be, not only remote ready, but always ready for change. No matter how drastic.

Ten Thousand

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It has been more than a year since I posted my vision of value driven life and while I might add more to that vision after reading Ray Dalio’s Principles and Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People — I’d like to add a mission and or achievable goals as a measurable metrics in my life

10,000 Business and or Business Owners

I have been doing B2B for the past 4 years of Talenta and if you add 2 years of Tech in Asia (dealing with startups) and another year of KakaoTalk (reaching out to brands to having account on KakaoTalk called Kakao Plus Friend just like Facebook has Facebook Pages) then it has been 7 years of B2B for me.

I love every single day of doing B2B because I feel that I’m solving a real problem which can impact a larger group of individuals. I believe that B2B is still underrated and undervalued in the region especially Indonesia and I want to gain expertise on this niche.

10,000 Digital Makers/Creators

While B2B won’t die and legacy businesses will live in the future, I won’t and can’t close my eyes to the future. There will be millions of digital makers or creators from people who creates newsletters, to musicians, to films, to e-sports players, even to someone who are basically just famous because of their appearance and they create content out of themselves.

I want to be in this space by creating a platform or a solution that will help them create sustainability in their job vs doing it on the side. I believe that these creators job will be the new hot dream vs the typical being an actor/actress POV.

10,000 Experts

One of the most important part of living/in this world is knowledge. As generations change and information, thus knowledge, sharing are getting easier — it actually creates overload.

I’d love to be able to create a network of experts all over Asia and just learn from them and then share it with more people. There is Quora in the US, and they want to be a global company but I believe a self-serve nature of Quora won’t work all over Asia.

10,000 Software/Subsciption

Software will basically disrupt all lines of businesses, the only question is when and how fast. I’m predicting a mass adoption in the next 5-7 years and I just love if an Indonesian software company/startup can be the go-to product for a regional problem.

I have drafted lots of ideas that will most likely churned out of SaaSia — which I believe will be my life long work.

10,000 fans

As for personal goal, I do really hope that I can inspire, mentor, develop, (add more positive things here) 10,000 people over my working life. I’m not necessarily saying they have to “love” or “like” me the way Kpop Idol fandom works but I’d love to have a tight relationship with people that I help.

Parents Knowledge and Future Childrens

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Just had this thought and I think posting it will do me good as a future parents. Or maybe some of you might be thinking of this too.

When I was little, everything that my parents said is basically like God’s commands. I rarely say no to them. At the same time, everything they explain about this world became my primary source of knowledge.

As the time passes, obviously I started school and I have my second source of knowledge. But still, if I had my doubts, I would go to my parents and ask them which is true and which is false. Whatever their answer is, I would believe them with all my heart. Because, parents is always right, right?

Lately, I realized that this isn’t always true. I also realized that parents can limit a child’s knowledge or even imagination. This is somewhat sad or unfair to think about as the child’s brain is just like a sponge which is at its very best absorbing tons of knowledge at this age, but parents might be a filter or even be a stumbling block.

Internet liberates children from this block, I would imagine starting from those who was born in the 80s. This can only get accelerated in the future and parents’ responsibility as the source of knowledge might dilutes to none as a kid would assert to Google just like their parents can.

With Elon Musk developing Neuralink (must read), future of parenting might not be the source of knowledge but instead a judgement of a knowledge. Children in the future might learn a lot more things in 5-10 years than their grandparents did in their whole lifetime.

This is scary, but it might be awesome for human kind. What do you think?

 

The Most Important 7 Years of Your Life

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I couldn’t agree more when they say:

You will regret things you don’t do than the things you did

You’re only young once so you have to try everything

The only thing that young people have is TIME

I have hit the quarter life crisis, in a good way, I believe. It took a lot of courage and focus to step back and look at what we have done — both good and bad — and how we’re going to spend the next 25 years.

I would say the most important 7 years — or the life defining years — are when you are 18 (entering uni) until you are 25. (I am biased, yes). I believe in these 7 years. You’re either going to be a boring person who went to classes, did all the assignments, went home and get a safe job.

OR you are going to fuck up with your life, party hard — way too hard, and jumping from one job to another because you don’t feel satisfied OR people just hate you because you can’t do your job properly.

OR you can maximize the resource you have which is time, and just basically learn all the sh*t you need, meet all the people you want to learn from, get all the experience you believe can be the foundation of your life ,and just absorb all of them.

Pretty much that’s what I did – I almost had to repeat a year when I’m in senior high school, but didn’t because something ‘clicked” in my brain when I was in this tutoring after-school program (called Rumah Belajar — SMAK 1 and SMAK 4 Penabur peeps should know them)

Went to Binus University basically because they are the only decent IT school. Aced my first 2 years and got bored, ended up with a job with East Ventures and Tech in Asia (both career defining jobs) went to hundreds of meetups, met with probably a thousand people through conferences and events and as they say the rest is history.

If I had to redo it all over again, I would do more, learn more, and meet more people. When you are 25, like I am right now, all you want to do in the weekends are sleeping in or just watch Netflix. You are more cynical to new ideas, you take less risk in your decision making, you don’t do roller-coaster anymore (thank God I did skydiving last year), you got sick after just 2 shots of tequila, you don’t go to meetups anymore because you can’t stand listening to wannabe founders telling you they are going to be the next Go-Jek or maybe not.

Basically: if you are younger than 20 and reading this, STOP SPENDING HOURS WATCHING INSTAGRAM STORIES AND SPEND THOSE HOURS TALKING TO PEOPLE, FIND MENTORS, AND READ BOOKS.

It’s 10pm and I can’t wait to go to bed (I used to laugh at my older friends back in uni saying that they are such a pussy for sleeping in so early while I was spending all nighters playing games or just watching movies — what a karma huh)

 

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.

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? :)

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?