Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Where Are The Start-up Founders In Indonesia?

You might be bored with all the stats and reports on how hot Indonesia’s tech scene is right now. There is a recent boom of venture capital firms, incubators, and accelerators in Indonesia, and the tech scene has never gotten so busy before. As someone who has witnessed the before and the after, it is a seriously an awesome contrast. A good one of course…

All kinds of potential builds up in the nation as Internet access reaches more and more Indonesians. While we have the capital to get start-up seeded, ideas going, and concepts tested, what’s also needed is a more complete ecosystem supporting all this potential. Money alone can’t build such a system. The belief from both locals and foreigners that Indonesia will be the next hottest tech scene in Asia is equally important.

The foundation of this faith is our huge digital consumption so far: Indonesia is the second and fourth largest Facebook and Twitter populations, respectively — those stats are hard to ignore. But then again, we don’t just want to be consumers, we also want to be innovators. Many folks have a strong belief that Indonesia can actually reach to that level.

Driven by such belief, more big players are making their way into our tech industry, and this in turn triggers competition and creativity. Rakuten, Multiply, and Yahoo are becoming active in the country. Meanwhile Facebook, eBay, and Google are also taking a closer look at Indonesia. There are also venture capitalists like East Ventures (Disclosure: Penn-Olson is invested by EV) and GDP Ventures, incubators like Project Eden and Ideosource, and ‘academic programs’ by Founder Institute Jakarta to guide founder wannabes to launch their own start-ups.

The market is definitely large enough for Indonesians (or even Southeast Asians) to tap into. All the pieces to create this ecosystem seem to have arrived.

In Indonesia, consumers are also always thirsty for innovative products. When Yahoo Koprol released their Stamps feature, it gained major traction overnight. Similarly, Bouncity attracted over 16,000 users with 325,000 challenges completed in a month. We have a rising ecosystem and also an abundance of problems for start-up founders to solve. There are many needs in developing countries such as this one that start-ups could fill and support the country’s growth – both economically and socially.

Now that I listed my points about the start-up ecosystem in Indonesia there seems to be one key ingredient that is missing: Where are all these start-ups which are supposed to leverage our rising ecosystem? I simply can’t answer that. Even if I could, my answer would probably be biased and unrepresentative.

So what’s the problem? Is it because lots of start-up founders here are mainly technical people who can’t spot opportunities? Or perhaps we are unable to discover them quickly enough? Let us know your thoughts.

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