Sunday, May 01, 2011

10 Indonesian Startups at Echelon: Rethinking the Value Proposition

Just a few days ago, I got an email to become the judge for Echelon. e27′s Echelon is a technology events where startups can pitch their idea to get publication and for some, to be spotted by incubators or private equities. There are satellite events in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and other countries as well. 3 best startups will be brought to Singapore for final pitch.

Aulia Masna (Daily Social), Aaron Tan Wei Cheng (SingTel Innov8), Shinta Dhanuwardoyo (, Danny Oei Wirianto (Kaskus Networks) and myself judge 5 startups,,,,, Meanwhile Irving Hutagalung (Microsoft Indonesia), Satya Witoelar (Koprol), Aulia Halimatussadiah (, Martin Hartono (GDP Ventures) judge the other 5 startups,,,, and is a social network for fitness, founded by Denny Santoso, a veteran in fitness industry as he wrote books on diet and became a seller for sport supplements. This social network get a good adoption among users by simply showing off their fitness progress and networking with users with similar interests. The current value of this site is actually the founder who really understand the insight of this industry and have a strong relationship with fitness center, health media and brand owners who target the fitness industry. My challenge for this site is the future sustainability, since I haven't see a real sustainable model for social media. I would suggest to rely on revenue from sales acquisition for fitness membership and ecommerce on health products beside common advertising model. And by giving benefit for health influencers when they bring in their community will make sure a sustainable traffic for the site.

Despite their good domain, doesn't show a strong strategy as food directory & media. Even with the support of Kaskus and Urbanesia founders, they don't have a strong business model. Most of the presentation concentrate only on features without offering a real benefit for users. Purely rely on user generated content, it will be hard for them to compete with other food directories. As a clone to, they should concentrate to build strong contents so they can monetize through advertising, sponsored content, sponsored competitions and daily deals.

Competing in the same domain, offers a stronger value proposition. It understand your taste profile, you just have to rate the food on their website. Started as food directory, they are now providing services to cafe and restaurants to have facebook apps and menu. This business model provide neccessary cashflow for the company and build good contents. is a social bookmarking tool with rating model similar to I don't see real value offered compared to other social bookmarking site. To be survived, it really needs to rethink how to get massive users adoption. I suggest to build this platform on top of facebook so they can get user traction by providing value to existing users. by Andry Suhaili is really simple to understand. Price search! Similar to Froogle or now reborn to Google Products. Search is simple to understand but a challenging one. It is a scale game. This is my personal favorite, but I would suggest to have a shorter domain. And they turns out to win the People Choice Award.

I don't particularly judge the other 5, but here's my comments:
  •, a clone of, is a mobile location based services that giving reward by merchants if the users doing mobile activity. Have a good potential if they lock major brands to provide real value as rewards. The developer team behind Phasedev need to have a solid operation team.
  • is good for financial services to provide personal finance tools like
  • is a cool tools for check-in using RFID bracelet. Currently it only fits for marketing purposes. If it can be positioned as a data mining tools for event and destination, then it might be able to find a wider adoption.
  • is a booking engine for hotels and restaurants. If it merely used as a backend software services, it will compete with other already successful booking engine. They can create more value if they get hotel deals.
  • as traffic information will face a sustainability challenge since they rely on user generated content. Need to have their own trusted content.
In summary, every startup need to build a strong value proposition why people need to visit the website or use their products and services. As a reality check they can attract many users as possible so the business will come, or build a clear business model. I would suggest to rely on many revenue stream instead of just one.

Despite my harsh comments on some, I believe Indonesian creative entrepreneurs is getting better. They are only need to shape not only the products, but the business acumen. I wish the best luck for the winner!