The Rise and Battle of Virtual Private Assistant in Indonesia

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.

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