Dheta Aisyah: Chief of Business Development & Co-Founder at Binar Academy

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Dheta Aisyah. I am the Chief of Business Development at Binar Academy. To be honest with you, I never planned to do this. Before I started Binar, I worked at GO-JEK and I met my co-founder Alamanda there. After GO-JEK I joined a consulting company called Palladium; I was there for three months and then Alamanda called me and she shared to me this idea that she had. At that time I found that I didn’t fit with consulting life. I didn’t really enjoy it too much and I thought that I could use my potential better at Binar.

Long story short, I spent five years in the U.S. studying and working for a year. When I came back from the US, I hated it. I was quite depressed and I didn’t like what I was doing. In the US, I worked in politics and loved it but because of immigration issues I had to go back. I wasn’t really accepting the fact that I had to return and was having a really hard time adjusting with the new culture. It’s quite ironic because it’s not really new culture; it’s like my home culture, but then it became something that is so distant to me. And so I really hated it and it took me a while to really like Indonesia again. While I was working at GO-JEK, I was looking for other opportunities to come back to the U.S.

But after a year of being depressed and really tired of hating my country, one day I just came up and kind of like switch my point of view you know like instead of me trying to go back to the U.S. because it was comfortable, so why don’t I just switch my perspective and try to change Indonesia to be as comfortable as the US? And not long after that, Alamanda came to me with this idea of digitizing Indonesia, of giving out opportunities to students and second-tier cities of Indonesia more I.T. education. I shared the same vision with her. I thought it aligned to my calling at the time, so I just took the opportunity.

Why is Binar Academy so needed in Indonesia?

One main problem that we are trying to solve is that digitalization is very centred in Jakarta but in order for us to move forward and compete in the global scene, Indonesia as a whole has to be digitalized and I’m not seeing that right now. We are trying to really cultivate the hidden talents – the underdogs if you will – in second-tier cities so that they have more opportunities.

The second thing is that we’re seeing a huge talent war in Jakarta. Good programmers are very scarce and big startups with limitless capital are trying to double down their offers, to the point that it hikes up the market price of software engineers. Companies need to be brave enough to look at Indonesia as more than just Jakarta. There are a lot of opportunities and talents that they can leverage to build their products outside of the capital.

And three, I see that there’s a lot of ideas that are not able to be executed because they don’t have the talents to build the product. At Binar we’re opening up a host of talents in Yogyakarta, and with the abundance of potential hires, we’ll be able to help early stage startups build their product and realize what was once a dream turn into a real product.

Can you comment on the gender makeup of your program? Of the programming world in general?

We have been running for about a year now and have graduated about 300 people over 6 batches. I would say it is very sad that only about 10% of the student demographic are women. I think the stigma is that women are more emotional. That they’re not very systematic, that they’re not very technical. So tech seems to be an unfitting sector for them and so it marginalizes women in that way. But I don’t think that’s true. Tech, as it grows, needs more women in it. The emotional trait of women is very much needed in order to personalize a product, in order to make it widely used. It has to solve specific problems in people’s days, and that’s where women can really make a significant contribution.

How can we encourage more girls to, say, start applying to Binar? Or to similar programs to become engineers and developers?

it requires cooperation from a lot of stakeholders. If it was just Binar, I don’t think we are big enough to be the catalyst of that change. But, for example, in the past we’ve worked with Adidas and Citibank. They have supported us in giving out more scholarships for women to study in our academy. And that is necessary. Corporations should really be aware that the tech sector is something that cannot be dominated by men anymore. So that’s one. And then the second is that parents should be more supportive of the tech sector as a viable sector to pursue as a career. Because, as you know being an engineer or being in the tech industry is not easy; it requires hard work and long hours. Unfortunately, we live in a country where traditional values are still being upheld. It’s like the dichotomy of women and men are still very strong, as if women has their own role which cannot be interfered into by men and vice versa. And I think that certain values might need to be dissolved. It’s not an era where women have to be stuck at home taking care of children. They need to have a career and remembering digitalization is going to be the future of work, the future of our era. Parents and families in general have to start planting their seed to women in their families to see tech sector as a viable sector to pursue as a career.

Can you speak more about your own personal experiences as both a woman in the tech sector and as a female co-founder?

I think I am very fortunate to not really care about what people think of me. Maybe judgement is out there, but it really doesn’t affect me. I can tell you that very often I am the only woman at the table. And sometimes it is quite degrading where guys would start to flirt with me just because I’m the only woman on the table. And given my age, I think it’s very tempting for them to do it especially in my role as BD. I negotiate deals a lot and sometimes being a woman kind of puts me in that kind of position.

How do you deal with that stigma or that temptation from guys kind of do that? Like how do you how do you deal with that?

Like I said, just show them who’s boss. You know, if they are being flirty with you, maintain your composure and just stay professional. It’s their problem, not yours, so you’re not the one to solve it. You just keep doing what you’re doing. If you’re negotiating, just keep negotiating. If wearing a knee-length skirt or dress is what’s comfortable for you, don’t change it just because you’re afraid that someone some guys on the table will flirt with you. Just do you and be honest. A lot of people are thrown off and discouraged by this environment that they’re in, and it’s very unfortunate because I’ve seen a lot of women do that. Just be confident. Stick with it.

Are there any digital trends in Indonesia you are excited about?

What I’m really excited right now to see is that the move towards the digitalization in the manufacturing industry I think like if we see the global trend. A lot of them are going to 3D printing. And I’m really excited. If the industry in Indonesia will start adopting that technology. Because I think it’s going to make our goods a lot cheaper which is good for consumers. It will force us Indonesians who are used to working in factories but want to be in a better position to use their brain and potential into something that is more worth it. You know I think it was very Victorian era to work in a specialized field doing the same thing all over again. And now we have this technology that can free us to really explore our  societal needs. So I’m really excited to see that.

Do you have any advice for those who want to become an entrepreneur in the tech sector?

I would say start to think about your first $100,000 as soon as possible. Now if I interview people, one thing that I always ask is, “How did you make your first $100,000?” If the answer is like, “My first $100,000 is from my first job out of college,” then I don’t think you have the entrepreneurial mindset within you. So start thinking about it. Start relying on yourself to sustain the kind of life that you want.

And don’t wait to start until the end of college. If you are still in elementary school and have a good idea, for example. Start by buying something on the market and then selling it. Jack up the price and sell it to your peers. It’s that easy to make money. Like me for example, a little bit of an intermezzo but when I was in 4th grade, I was very fortunate to have been given permission to subscribe to magazines. A lot of my peers didn’t have that luxury. So what I did was I cut up sections from different magazines – I created my own magazine of sorts – and then I sold it to my friends.  And it was really for no cost; literally, my parents paid for the magazines but then I got to make money out of it.

So yeah, think about how to make money and don’t wait until other people give you that opportunity. Make that opportunity for yourself to start having a dream. Start thinking about where you want to be 10 or 20 years from now. Because that vision in your head is something that will really help you move forward. If you have that vision, often enough you’re going to create an itch in yourself like, “I really want it. I don’t just want it to be in my head. I want to actualize it.” And that’s going to be the base of your motivation theory.

Start looking for a role model. I think that’s very important. Sometimes I think people in Jakarta are very globalized and they’re open to information. But what is important is that Jakarta is the minority. Jakarta is not representative of Indonesia. And the sad thing is that a lot of women and the rest of Indonesia lack that information of what they can achieve. As you explore a lot of role models, try to define what success means to you. Because as you grow up, you’re going to be so tempted to really follow what your role model is doing — but don’t forget to be authentic as well.

Who is your role model?

I like a lot of people, but I would say my role model is Tim Ferriss. He is very balanced, very ambitious in his work and worldly pursuits. But at the same time, he’s very spiritual. And I think having that balance is very, very important. He’s very sharp. He’s very disciplined. What I like the most about him is that he always experiments on himself and tried to create new habits that made him even more productive in everything he does. That’s really something that I look up to because even though he’s now very successful, he always sees that there’s room for improvement. And I think that is very admirable.

Merlina Li: Founding Member of Indonesia Blockchain Network & Head of Partnerships at Triv

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Merlina Li and I’m a founding member of the Indonesia Blockchain Network. The reason why we founded Indonesian Blockchain Network is because we want to educate Indonesia on what blockchain is, and to eliminate scam projects from this industry, making it as positive as possible. I am also the Head of Partnership at Triv, the second-biggest cryptocurrency exchange in Indonesia.

How did you get to where you are today?

Actually, that’s a bit of a wild ride. I’ve been interested in technology since college. I majored in computer science because I wanted to play games (laughs). That’s the only reason why I got to technology, but then like I fell in love with it. It isn’t just about playing games; it’s about believing in the system, running the system, making the system more efficient without having to depend on a single identity. From there, I worked as a business analyst for Asia Pulp & Paper for five years. It was quite a good journey because I learned a lot of things about the industry, especially how the manufacturing and supply chain industries works. It really enhanced my current experience in blockchain.

Afterwards I worked for GO-JEK as the IT project manager for the core background team. In GO-JEK, they wanted to develop more females in the engineering side, because when I joined them, there were no female developers or female project managers in the core background team. So GO-JEK wanted to give more chances for women to perform in the engineering side.

GO-JEK was a pretty nice experience, but after awhile I felt that I should go deeper into blockchain. Because if I only stayed on one side, then I wouldn’t be able to see the whole side of the blockchain industry. I saw how blockchain is able to make people’s lives better, making things much more positive. That’s how I got into this industry.

What was it like being one of the first female project managers on the core team at GO-JEK?

Some of the guys really appreciated me, but some didn’t give appreciative looks because they thought females did not belong in the engineering side and aren’t able to work as developers. People really underestimate females in the technology industry. For example, if they know that you’re female, they say it’s not your field and it’s not what you should do. According to them, a female’s role is to be a housewife – cooking, cleaning the laundry, going to the salon, and putting makeup on. While there are some male counterparts that really appreciate females in this industry, some only think of females as the sidekick. That’s the bias we want to eliminate.

What advantages do females have in engineering?

Females tend to have more empathy, so we think more about the user side. We have empathy and also conscience, so we think more about how people are using our applications, how they navigate, how they run it, and whether its smooth or not. And the cost — I think females are more cost-efficient than our male counterparts. Therefore, I think both genders have to work side by side instead of mocking or putting down each other.

How did you overcome the stereotypes and expectations you encountered as a female in the technology industry?

In the blockchain industry, which is quite new, sometimes we try to keep our identity hidden. We want to know what people’s true opinions are, without gender bias. 80% of people in Telegram groups still call me a bro; I tell them that I’m a female, I’m not a bro! I think that blockchain is female-dominated right now. But some of the identities are anonymous, so some of the guys who work in blockchain are giving females a chance to prove themselves – wittingly or unwittingly. Most of the “blockchain bros” are much more appreciative of females in the industry compared to other technology “bros” — that’s what I feel in this industry. They’re more willing to give females a chance to perform.

What I’m trying to do is prove that I’m able to perform. Actually some of the “bros” still perpetuate the stereotype that females are not worthy to be in technology, but we are able to prove otherwise. That’s how we gain respect in this industry.

How conducive is the Indonesian market for blockchain?

I think Indonesia is a good place for blockchain to thrive. We are a big island country where not everything is connected yet, so there are a lot of things that could be interconnected in the future compared to other mature countries. Actually, some Indonesian people are more open-minded to receive new technology, so I think blockchain could develop in a way that will help them more.

Do you have any role models that you look up to?

My role model, I would say, would be my mom. Every woman is like a wonder woman — they can have a job, they can be entrepreneurs, and also have a family and kids. I think every woman in every stage deserves respect, whether they are a housewife or a career woman. I think every woman deserves respect.

How can we make sure more women are being more pulled into the blockchain community? How do we encourage more women to take that risk, take that jump, and go forward?

They could start through cryptocurrency trading — that’s the easiest way right now. Through this, they can see how the technology works and see which part of blockchain they want to contribute to. In cryptocurrency, females can jump in right away, and then start to learn step-by-step about the technology, about how the fundamentals work. I think what they need to be in the blockchain industry is open-mindedness. Because if they’re not open-minded, then it’s going to be hard to start in any industry.

The best tip I can give is keep trying to be persistent in this industry, keep their determination strong, and just keep going forward. If this is what you really want, you need to believe in yourself, and find people in the right tune with you. If people criticize you, just leave them behind and move forward with the positive ones. If you really believe that blockchain will be able to change people’s lives in the long term and not only in the short term, then that’s how you’re going to survive. Because you’re becoming persistent in what you believe in.

 

Pandu Sastrowardoyo: Spokesperson & Co-Founder of Blockchain Zoo

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi, I’m Pandu Sastrowardoyo and I’m one of the co-founders as well as spokesperson for the Board of Directors of Blockchain Zoo. Blockchain Zoo is a consulting company based on the blockchain. We try to find out what companies want to do with the blockchain and we try to matchmake their business models, the business values they seek, and the kinds of blockchain technologies that fit them. We focus on being really agnostic; we don’t just focus on one technology, but multiple technologies, which is actually very rare in the blockchain consulting industry right now.

We’ve been here for about a year. But the people that founded Blockchain Zoo have been in the blockchain ecosystem for many years. A lot of us actually started nine years ago; blockchain is nine years old, so we have a combined experience in blockchain that is very unique. That’s how we are able to execute in such an agnostic fashion. Our experience is in a lot of our  technologies that for others have just appeared; we’ve been in those technologies since the very beginning.

How did you get to where you are today?

I started as an engineer — no, rewind. I actually started as a programmer when I was six years old. I learned to program when I was six. My dad really loved programming. He taught me to program. When it came time to choose a career, I chose to become an environmental engineer. This is very geeky, but what I did was I created expert systems, which are basically simple artificial intelligence programs back when I was in college. These expert systems are basically being used to create environmental impact assessment reports, which are usually created by humans.

Funnily enough, when I graduated I wasn’t actually accepted to be a programmer. I did try to apply, but somehow the only companies that hired me were marketing companies and consulting companies. I was accepted into Procter and Gamble for marketing rather than being a programmer. In my spare time, though, I did a ton of work just playing with games that I created on my own, while being an assistant brand manager. I went on to work in several other companies, but always at night I programmed, because I liked computers so much.

One day, I decided that I needed to utilize my computing capabilities and my developer capabilities, just to break into something that is closer to what I want and what I have skills for. So I decided to try out for IBM. I got into IBM, and I can say without exaggeration that the best years of my life were actually spent within IBM. I rose through the ranks very quickly. I started as a sales specialist, then I became country leader for product. IBM basically always allocated me for new products, the products they’ve never sold before or never opened to market before. I found my calling, basically. I was in enterprise IT. How to find the proper way for systems to be able to help people in their daily lives, and how corporations can utilize systems to make it easy for them to get value. I was in charge of about six divisions when I was in IBM, and I’ve lead multiple countries for most of them.

At the end of the six years in IBM, I found out that most Enterprise IT companies’ strategy for addressing blockchain was not agnostic when focusing on blockchain itself – something I did not agree with. Most consulting companies focus on one technology, and pushes that technology everywhere. It’s like they have a hammer and everything is a nail. They have exactly one type of hammer that is being pushed to solve everything.

So, I contacted my old friends – a lot of other people on our website basically, and after discussions we basically decided to create Blockchain Zoo. The idea is that blockchain is a jungle, so let’s create a zoo. That’s basically how I helped co-found Blockchain Zoo. The funny thing about my background is, if I had gone the regular route and just became a developer, I probably wouldn’t have the marketing skill sets, the sales skill sets, probably not even the enterprise IT skill sets, so I’m actually quite grateful for the journey that I’ve been through.

What are the challenges you face first in the technology space, and second as a woman entrepreneur?

The challenge as a blockchain entrepreneur in general is that a lot of people just equate blockchain with cryptocurrencies. Everyday I receive messages asking me for trading advice. Which is not something that I do! I mean, I’m a terrible trader. If I tried to trade, I’d lose all of your money. (laughs) Now, that sounds funny, but there’s a less funny part of it. Cryptocurrencies in Indonesia is a gray area for the government. The government doesn’t like it too much, so if I get associated with cryptocurrencies, especially in Indonesia, that dilutes my brand. It actually dilutes my capability as well.

Second — this is what’s funny about blockchain as a technology compared to other technologies — the killer app already exists, and that’s cryptocurrency. But actually the killer app is not the best app. Let’s talk about artificial intelligence for a moment. What’s the killer app for AI? I think it’s personal assistants, and I think in a few years, everyone is going to agree with me that the personal assistant is what the AI killer app will be. Well, blockchain started as bitcoin. It started as an app, so now people cannot forget the killer app. It’s really hard to get out of your mind. Because that’s actually the top of your mind, of what can be done. However, we at Blockchain Zoo focus on something that is not the killer app, but other solutions on the blockchain which actually have a lot of business value. For instance, blockchain for the supply chain, blockchain for trade finance, all of these things which are not cryptocurrencies. All of these things are not threats to the banks; they’re actually tools for the banks. It does sound like an awareness thing, but it becomes very complicated because the media insists on focusing on the sexy part, which is people getting money from almost absolute zero from trading cryptocurrencies.

In terms of being a female in the technology space…you know what, let me tell you several stories. One of the stories actually has to do with a friend of mine who is a very, very good programmer and developer. Yet she’s had a lot of issues in the past. The Whatsapp groups where the developers hang out are all boys and she is not welcome inside the groups. She works for a company that is actually on the same level of IBM, and she experiences discrimination. The reason why she’s not in the group is that a guy said, “Oh, if you’re in the group you wouldn’t like it because there’s a lot of dirty jokes.” Which is dumb, right? These are groups filled with developers. It’s not a joke group. For the people who are in technical fields, this often happens. There are sort of like boys clubs that sprout up. And it is a bit difficult for women to come in. Not because of the skills, no, but because of the resistance of the existing technical workers, who are mostly men.

Now, for an entrepreneur, it depends on the level. Right now I don’t experience these discriminatory practices. At the beginning, of course, being a female leader in the tech space, not just in the blockchain space, there are things that are expected differently of you. If you’re a guy in the IT space, you’re basically there because you have technical knowledge and you have business acumen. If you are a woman, there are two scenarios (and this is true in Indonesia, I am not sure for other countries): business acumen, maybe, or you are good at relationships, with the bapak-bapak (older men), with the guys who basically make the decision. We’ve seen that a lot. I’ve seen a lot of female managers who are literally flirting to get deals. And that actually happens a lot in the IT world.

I actually hired someone from my partner back in IBM, and well, we were going to bulk up this new partner company. And I’ve asked them, “Okay, so what would you like to have in your sales team, your sales manager?” And they wanted to have a pretty girl. Literally, their wishlist, number one, is pretty girl. So that still happens, especially for the IT industry. That still happens a lot. When you’re at the director level, the chairman level, or Board of Directors level, that doesn’t get associated with you. But when you’re still a young sales manager and you’re a girl, the first question would be this. Like you could see the calculations in their minds, and they are calculating whether you’re here because you can talk with people, or you’re here because you can flirt with people. The calculus is still there.

Do you have any recommendations for how leadership or even everyday employees can start fixing that mindset?

This has to come from both genders, of course. Men especially, the technical guys, should try to make women feel more welcome. Women have a lot to add to the conversation. I’ve worked with both male and female developers, and they all have different thoughts to add. It’s not something cliche, like “women are better at user interface.” With the addition of women into the workforce, you get additional thoughts that you as a male might not have thought of. Simply more variety in terms of your thinking. When I see the construction of boys clubs within developer organizations, those are usually because of dirty jokes, because of people trying to have fun. But in terms of professionalism and basically to make people welcome, it may be best to discourage these so that you can have a very safe environment for everyone in the end.

I think there are two suggestions for women ourselves: if you’re a woman, you’re a technical person, and you really want to be a programmer, don’t be afraid of venturing inside the boys clubs — it doesn’t mean you have to be a boy or a tomboy even. Just be yourself, but show that from a merit perspective you have the capability. In the end, I think it’s all about capability. If you want to be more of a business manager or developer, I think it’s the same. There will be people looking at you sideways, especially in this industry, and that’s going to be true at least for the next few years. But just focus on the merit of the discussion, your business acumen, your ideas. Don’t let the guys push you to do just relationship-selling. Focus on the content. The content will set you free.

Can you speak more on blockchain’s unique positioning with women?

Other technologies are not inherently community focused. For example, AI has a community, but without a community the technology itself still works. Big data, yes of course there are communities sprouting around big data, but that is less about the technology itself than the gathering of the data. Now, blockchain – and especially the more public blockchain like ICO activities – even the development of new technologies are all created by communities. It is a way to make multiple people from competing interests work together as a group, as a whole. That requires a lot of community acumen. Which means the successful ICOs, the successful technologies of the blockchain, have both active technologies and active communities.

I’ve been saying this for awhile. Women are actually very good at the social aspects of technology, which until now was just social media. We are better social media users, we post more on social media, and we have an innate understanding of what creates a good community, whether its online or offline. Social media itself, have you ever heard of CAMS? Cloud analytics mobile social? About three or four years ago, it was decided that the next trends of IT was to be CAMS. Everyone was about to be working with social media; if you were in an office you’d be using something a lot like Facebook, within an enterprise. That never came to pass in enterprises, but it did come to pass in blockchain work. The way people work in blockchain — we don’t use emails. We use our own internal social media, like Telegram. It grew out of the importance of communities.

I think women in blockchain actually have a lot of potential that can be pushed. And Indonesia itself needs to be more open to this possibility. The women of Indonesia need to understand that this is a wonderful niche where women can make or break a new blockchain project. Whether the project succeeds or not could be determined by whether there’s women or not.

What’s something that you’re excited about in terms of Indonesia in the blockchain space?

I’m excited by the number of islands that we have: 17,000 islands. The number of people that we have: 260 million. And I’m also excited by the fact that we can’t get along. There’s a lot of autonomy because of democracy. Which is good, you know. Regional autonomy is good for countries such as ours. But it also means that it’s really hard to merge data, because everyone wants to own their own data. That also means that our identities might not fit. For example, I could have an identity card in Jakarta, but I could also have one in Kalimantan. And no one’s the wiser because there are different databases for each of them. The capability to merge multiple databases into one single stream of data into the blockchain without forcing people to centralise would be a boon for the entire country. And I think it’s something coming soon in multiple aspects of our daily lives in the next couple of years.

Finally, do you have any advice for young women who want to follow your path and go into programming?

It’s all about following your passions. I’ve never let go, in the many years where I was selling shampoos, when I was working in Sampoerna, I’ve never let go of my passion for computing, and that has always been my passion. That sounds geeky, it sounds weird. It’s just, you know, coding is my passion, computers are my passion, and I’ve never let go. So, I think, don’t follow me, but follow your heart. Follow what your passions are.

 

Suri: CEO & Founder of Diffago

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Suri. My complete name is Ni Komang Ayu Suriani and I’m founder and CEO of Diffago.com, an online platform helping to organize corporate social responsibility (CSR) for impacting disability issues.

I started my career in disability issues five years ago as founding team and project coordinator of DNetwork.net – a pioneering jobs network connecting people with disabilities to employment in Indonesia. During my journey as project coordinator in Indonesia, I realized that there are so many factors impacting the disabled community’s chances of gaining employment. Some of those factors are education, mobility, accessibility – among others. That’s why since January 2018 I started Diffago.com, to address some of the issues that cannot be tackled by my previous organizations.

Diffago has four services. First, we are creating a platform – it is similar to a crowdfunding model, but we will approach companies and organization to give their CSR for disability issues. Second, we will provide trainings that prepare those in the disabled community to be work-ready. Third, we will connect them to companies to get employment. Fourth , we will provide a platform that will connect buyers with disabilities in the middle-up level who need mobility aids (prosthetic leg. Prosthetic hand, etc) to mobility aids provider. So it is helping people with disabilities on a very economically diverse level. Because one of the issues that people with disabilities face here in Indonesia is that not many of them know where to get appropriate mobility aids. Especially for people from middle-low also middle-upper economic class.

Why is disability an issue we should care about?

There is a huge population of people with disabilities in Indonesia. Based on the International Labour Organization data in 2012, there are approximately 24 million people with disabilities in Indonesia. Of that 24 million, 13 million are unemployed – over 50%. Unemployment affects other sectors as well; largely the root causes are lack of mobility, accessibility, and education. They cannot attain a good education because they cannot go out easily; there is no infrastructure to help them do so independently. Many of them are not as mobile as able-bodied people; they can’t just go anywhere at anytime. It’s very hard for them. That’s why it’s so hard for them to get employment, to get better education, to get better health. That’s really what made me go, “Wow, this is a very complex issue.” It’s much harder to address than it seems.

And besides, anybody can become a person with disability at any time. If you don’t care about these issues, if you don’t care about creating inclusive communities, then what will happen? If you become a person with disability from, say, a car accident, what will happen next? This is a societal issue. We have to care, we need to create more inclusive communities for people with disability – if not for others, then for ourselves and future generations.

What are some unique challenges that women might face in the disabled community?

The majority of women with disabilities find major difficulty in gaining employment and education. This is also the case for able-bodied women without disabilities. You could imagine how much harder it is for women have disabilities. It’s also related to the culture in Indonesia. Again, even for women without disabilities it’s a very difficult to get involved in the community, to gain meaningful employment, or achieve a high level in the workplace. Even in attaining education. Because some people in Indonesia believe that if women get married, they will end up in the kitchen. So why bother attaining higher education? Can you imagine if those women also had a disability? It’s an even worse case for them.

Are there specific ways we can help women with disability? In which areas can we help them?

We need to ask ourselves how we can build their confidence, how we can help them to feel that they also have value and a good future. And we must help them realize that value first. If they realize it, then we can help them to increase their confidence. If they have the confidence, we can help them to gain employment and education, to integrate and involve them in the community more. We need them to realize that, “Hey I’m a woman, I’m smart, I’m beautiful, I’m a human being just like you who deserves employment and a good livelihood” – instead of just staying at home and waiting for help form their family. At the present, they feel as if they can’t do anything, even though they’re adults. As if they have to wait for their families, or that they can’t make decisions for themselves. I think we can really help them realize otherwise through family approach to change their family mindset firstly that their daughter/ aunty/ whoever women with disability in their family; they also have a “holly” future that we can help to create together tobe a better one. Then we can involve them into trainings and workshops related to the problem they face..

What’s it like to be a (female) entrepreneur in Bali?

It’s like you’re entering the real jungle, you know? (laughs) It’s so hard, especially in Bali. The resources here aren’t like those available in Jakarta. It’s hard to access opportunities. Events, network, et cetera. Even my own team – none of them are based in Bail. All of them are in Jakarta or Bandung. I’m actually the only one here in Bali.

Being an entrepreneur is challenging for me. I have no background in business; I studied law and have experience in the nonprofit sector. But I’m the kind of person who loves to learn new things, and most of my team members have a business background so I learn from them. And I got motivation from my advisor, Faye Alund . She’s someone who had experience in the nonprofit world for 10 years but still found success in business. So I am sure I can learn; it may take time, but through my team’s and advisor’s help, I will learn how to build a social enterprise. Because social enterprise is not exactly the same as a commercial business right? So we have to think on two sides: how to be sustainable and generate revenue, and but also the social aspect as well. It’s very hard. Maybe harder than just running a 100% commercial business.

Have you faced any specific challenges being a female entrepreneur?

Yes. For instance, when we’re trying to approach investors or when we need to pitch, sometimes I don’t feel very confident. I feel intimidated because all of the founders are men and constantly think like, “Oh okay! Am I doing good?” So confidence. And how to approach investors — most of the investors are men. How do I approach them? Making deals with impact investors and investors in general is quite challenging. That’s the most difficult thing I think.

What are some other challenges you’ve faced in the startup space?

I find so many challenges. One of those challenges is how to build a solid and strong team. I am the only female in my team, by the way. My whole team is male. As a startup, we are quite small as well. We don’t have a huge amount of money to work with, so most of us work pro-bono.

Another thing is that it’s very hard to explain some of my decisions to the team because none of them has a background in disability issues. Disabilities in Indonesia, it’s a very complex thing. It’s not what you think. It’s not like, “Let’s just do a coding training” and that’s it. No. After that, then what? It’s not like that. If you think, “OK, we just train them in IT and then they can start their own business and work from home” — actually, you have to build up their confidence, their professional mindset, their mentality. So that if they work from home they will not only finish their job, but finish it well. It’s a complex thing. I have to explain this to my team. They’re from a purely business background, no social background. That’s one of the challenges.

Resources is a huge challenge. That is, access to networks, funding, angel investors. Disability isn’t a sexy issue, it’s not trendy. So how can we convince potential stakeholders that this is an urgent issue as well as a pressing social issue? That if they help us then they can create significant impact. It’s challenging to convince impact investors and angel investors of this.

What is the startup and social enterprise scene like in Bali?

I think there are not as many as in Jakarta. Maybe it’s due to the culture. the Balinese mostly prefer to have careers in hospitality, or civil servants, or in travel and tourism. Being a social enterprise or having a startup…maybe it’s still rare or not very familiar for us. This is what I heard. I heard Balinese don’t really like to take risks. And social enterprises and startups are full of risk, right?

So what got you to take those risks and start your own enterprise?

I have a vision. I really want to make a bigger impact for people with disability. I see this is as an opportunity. And if I’m not the founder, it’s hard to make an impact. If I work for others I need to wait for their instructions. If I’m the founder, I can set the agenda. I can make the policy. I can decide quickly. So I thought, well, this is the time to be 100% involved in entrepreneurship. And I think social enterprise is the best choice for me rather than starting a non-profit, because nonprofits are very hard to sustain.

Do you see Bali as becoming a startup hub?

Like I mentioned before, it isn’t popular with young Balinese to build a startup. We will mostly choose the safer way, the safer career. But I think Bali has a huge potential to become like Bandung or Jakarta. Maybe in 10 years. Through 1000 Startups Program…I think that’s the gate for young people in Bali to see more opportunities in entrepreneurship. Because maybe we’ve never seen success stories from Jakarta or Bandung, we don’t know so much about what’s out there. But if we are exposed to those success stories, if successful entrepreneurs come here and share their stories, then maybe slowly but surely our mindset will change.

Do you have any tips on overcoming that initial feeling of doubt and finding that confidence?

Just do it. Sometimes we have so much doubt in ourselves. We’re afraid to start, we forget that the first step is to just do it. How? First, set your goals. Like, why do you want to create this company or social enterprise? What is the impact you want to create? You have to make it clear. So that when you ask someone to join your team, they can also share your vision with you. So you will have one vision together.

After that, once you follow your heart or your passion…somehow, it can take a long time or a short time, but you will find a way. No matter how hard it is, as long as you believe in it and start it you will find a way. When it comes about, it depends on the network, the opportunities. That’s why I also mentioned the importance of location, like Bali versus Jakarta for instance. But nevertheless, just start it. Very often I feel I doubt myself, like, “Oh my God, disability is not a sexy issue.” But every time I feel that, I remember, “Wait, well, I created this for a reason and this is a good reason. I believe there will be a way.” Maybe it won’t happen right away. But I keep doing it. Because if I stop even for a bit, it will take longer to achieve my goals. So just do it, keep moving.

 

Claristy: Operations & Growth Lead at Luno

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Claristy and I am the Operations and Growth Lead for Luno. Luno is a global digital currency platform that operates in 40 countries across Asia, Africa, and Europe. We aim to help people to buy, store, and learn Bitcoin and digital assets easily and securely. In Indonesia, I manage the day-to-day activities and operations to ensure that the business is growing smoothly. I joined Luno around two years ago. Initially I never thought I’d be in this industry – digital assets, digital currency, cryptocurrency, and blockchain – they are all really new to me. You wouldn’t see a lot of people in these industries yet, but I’m really happy to be one of them.

How did you get to where you are today?

So when I was in college, I was learning about public relations, communications – working in that field was my absolute goal. I wanted to work as PR at big, global companies: representing them, speaking for them, talking to media, et cetera. But when I interned at a PR agency, I learned that a lot of things that I thought what PR was about is not what they were. Maybe I was just being really innocent, but I thought PR was something really pure – like you’re representing the company, connecting with the community & the people so they will understand your vision. That is, until I heard of this motto in the PR industry: “We are not lying, we are just telling the truth that we want to tell.”  Yes, You’re not actually lying, but I feel like that means you’re not actually being honest with what you’re doing either. I believe not every PR or company works like that, but after seeing more cases around me realize that this is not what I wanted anymore.

So I decided to look for the other industry or division that I might have interest in. It was close my graduation so I had that pressure of ‘finding the right job that pays well’ ASAP. I was really ambitious before so I felt like it was a race with my fellow colleagues. Typical fresh grad. I found out that startups were beginning to build momentum so I tried searching for a job in one. I was actually offered a role in a local fintech company as a Digital Communication Specialist until a senior of mine, who worked with me together when I interned at GEPI, introduced me to Luno. He was trying to find somebody to work as a country analyst. I was like, “I have no idea what Bitcoin or digital currency is, much less what being a country analyst actually means.” But he told me that I can do a lot of things in Luno. I can work on operations, marketing, advertising, community engagement, and I can also speak to customers, interact with media – a lot of things. I’d be basically assisting the country head to make sure things run smoothly in Indonesia.

But I was still unsure. At the time, everyone thought Bitcoin was all about buying narcotics on the black market, funding terrorism, and money laundering. And I had nobody to ask about these things because not a lot of people were knowledgeable about the topic. So I spoke to the CEO of Luno, Marcus, who explained what Bitcoin was to me. He made me confident that I would grow a lot in Luno, and I love how humble he was (and still is). I was a fresh grad after all, but there was never a moment he underestimated me and that to know that somebody believed in my ability to give value to the company – I decided to go with this offer. So that’s how I jumped into this industry and got the chance. And now I’m really glad that I’m one of the people who knew about it before others did.

Can you explain a bit more about what Bitcoin is exactly? What’s so special about it?

Basically, Bitcoin is a technology that allows a cheaper, more efficient, and more effective money transfer between two parties. People call it a currency because it works like money, but it’s actually a new technology that facilitates the exchange of money. And it affects money just like the Internet affected information back in the 90s. But the difference is that back in the 90s when you knew that the Internet was going to change information systems, you could not actually invest in that technology – even if you believed that it would revolutionize something big. But for Bitcoin – you can actually invest in the technology. That’s why people are buying Bitcoin and other tokens. Currently, we see people using Bitcoin as investment vehicle rather than a currency. People don’t use it to pay things yet, but that will happen in the future.

What’s are some challenges currently faced in the Bitcoin industry?

I think the huge challenge is that you have to educate a lot of people about what exactly Bitcoin is. Of course there will be people who will misuse the technology, but there will be a lot of positive things that will happen because of Bitcoin as well.

And it’s not just about educating current Bitcoin users, but also people who want to do something with the industry – people who want to work on Blockchain or in the Bitcoin industry but haven’t yet. I really appreciate the people who educate themselves on Bitcoin and dive into the industry. But a lot of people will choose the safer route rather than this new industry.

What are some interesting use cases that you’re excited about in the Bitcoin and Blockchain industries?

An interesting use case of Blockchain is for elections, or say, voting – storing data or information of voters before they vote, and storing the vote that they give. This will diminish the possibility of a third party intervention making the data unreliable. It’s something that people are trying to encourage governments or even companies to implement.

The other intriguing use case is that I can create a contract between you and me without having a notary or third party helping us. We can store all information in the Blockchain and the contract will run automatically. It will read whether you give me the payment when I give you the service, and whether I really give you the service or not. This will make it more efficient and effective for two people to do something without a third party. Less cost, more efficiency.

For Bitcoin, it would be international money transfer. For example, if I need South African Rand I would have to buy US dollars first here, because Rand isn’t available in any money changer in Indonesia. I will then need to bring this USD to South Africa to exchange it. Hence, there will be double rates differences and fees I need to pay – not to mention the hassle of going through this whole process.  If I do it by bank or internet banking, the bank will charge me fees.But with Bitcoin, I can send money instantly after exchanging it to Bitcoin, so it will be cheaper and faster. So Bitcoin actually allows for a cheaper and more efficient cross-border money transfer.

How is the Bitcoin industry like for women?

Actually, I only know three or four Indonesian women in this industry outside of my company, as there are not many companies in Bitcoin. At Luno, 40% of our company members are women. Everyone is equal here.

Sometimes I feel like I’m even a bit better because naturally women are better at details, right? For example when we have event, women will be looking at the details to ensure nothing is missed and that things will run smoothly. And as our industry involves people’s money, we need to build trust and relationships with customers. So if a Bitcoin company has women working on this, I believe it may work better. Women have a way with communicating with empathy and feeling more, that the social skills will help us in speaking to customers.So I think all companies should have women, especially those in the fintech space.

Yet I think a lot of women in general are not in the industry yet because first, it’s a very new industry and people – they tend to lean to something safer like fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs) or multinational corporations, etc. – something that everybody knows about. Digital assets aren’t something that everyone knows about, right? I hope that women can be brave in this industry because I think it’s just as welcoming as any other industry.

Have you faced any challenges yourself as a woman in this industry?

There’s this funny thing that happened to me when I met a bank manager for work. I think it’s because I’m young and a woman, and he didn’t expect an operations lead at Luno to be this young and to be female. When he first saw me, his facial expression translated how shocked he was. Like he looked so — I really think he was looking down on me. I was laughing in my head because his facial expression really showed it all!

So this is one tip for people who think they are too young or feel inferior in given situations. For me, I just wait until I have the chance to blurt out everything that I have prepared in my head. In this case, I just started explaining after he finished his questions, “Oh yes we do know risk scoring, API, sanction list, and this is what we do…”. And that is when I saw his facial expression started to change. He began to smile and became more welcoming. He stopped investigating me and started promoting his own product. So that’s one funny situation where I was looked down upon as a young woman in this industry.

Do you see any notable Bitcoin trends in Indonesia?

I think for Indonesians, it’s hard for us to take risk compared to other companies. We need someone to take us along the process to try new things. I think that’s how Bitcoin users in Indonesia are different from those in other countries. For example, Luno’s app is built to be intuitive and it is the same for all users around the world, but for Indonesia we have to add a special segment that actually explains the process of depositing money or sending Bitcoin or something like that. A lot of users will send us tickets or questions via social media to reach us asking us to explain step by step. That’s why in Indonesia we do community meetups to explain how we do things. We also do webinars, events, Youtube videos, step-by-step responses, and others. We don’t really do this in any other country — even if we do, it’s less than what we do here. We need to be more passionate, careful, and detailed in the Indonesian market. But to be honest, the whole process is actually more rewarding. Indonesians tend to be more thankful when they know you are there, together with them, and you have helped them going through this process of upgrading themselves to a better financial world.

 

[RECAP] Young Technopreneur (YTech) Award Ceremony

On 16 May, 2018, ANGIN attended the Young Technopreneur (YTech) Awards Ceremony, located at @america. The YTech program is strengthening U.S.-Indonesia partnerships in the digital economy and helping usher in cutting-edge digital solutions and apps by young Indonesians to address local and global challenges. Young technology-backed startups pitched in front of a panel of investors, who gave their candid feedback. This spirited session was followed up by the awards ceremony and an inspiring speech by US Ambassador Donovan.

ANGIN is excited to have witnessed such strong determination from these young startup leaders. We are excited to see further programs supporting Indonesian startups from our friends at the US Embassy.

 

[RECAP] NextICorn International Summit 2018

ANGIN was honored to have attended the NextICorn International Summit 2018 from 9 – 10 May 2018, held at the Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center. The summit was opened with amazing speakers including Chairman of Indonesia’s Investment Coordinating Board Thomas Lembong who spoke directly to the audience on the administration’s dedication to supporting the startup ecosystem, the managing director of Sequoia Capital India Sheilendra Singh, and Minister of Communications and Information Technology H.E. Rudiantara. An all-star panel with Indonesian Unicorn CEOs comprised of GO-JEK’s Nadiem Makarim, Traveloka’s Ferry Unardi, Tokopedia’s William Tanuwijaya, and Bukalapak’s Achmad Zaky then spoke about Indonesia’s startup potential in a digital age and their own unique journeys and experiences.

The rest of the conference bustled with activity. In the main hall, speakers from different industry verticals such as fintech, health, and education spoke to concentrated audience members. Meanwhile, hundreds of meetings were occurring between hopeful startups and investors in hallways, meeting rooms, and lunch tables. In total, 70 curated and selected seed to Series C startups were present, including ANGIN’s own portfolio company, Taralite.

ANGIN is delighted to have partaken in such a meaningful and productive conference. We are grateful to have reconnected with so many familiar faces and meet many new ones, and highly anticipate next year’s NextICorn summit.

Melina Subastian: Investment Manager at Alpha JWC Ventures

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Melina. I am an investment manager at Alpha JWC Ventures. We are a venture capital firm with a focus on Indonesia and the rest of Southeast Asia for early and mid-stage tech startups. We do investments with the founder-first principles, where we like to back great mindset and potential entrepreneurs.

Describe your journey. How did you get to where you are today?

My journey. My first job was in management consulting with McKinsey & Co. in the Jakarta office. I spent about three years there, and I did most of my projects in digital transformation and community development (in McKinsey, they refer to “tech” as “digital”). Some of the projects I did were things like digital banking development for conventional banking, e-commerce platform development for modern retailers, and ‘digital village’ creation where we empower offline-to-online technology transformation in rural areas in Indonesia.

Working on those projects made me very excited about tech industry. After couple of years advising corporations, I got interested in seeing the wider scope of tech in the startup landscape. I interviewed with both tech start-ups and VCs. I ended up in a VC because I felt very passionate in making a wider impact, and VC role would allow me to do it. By doing assessments and leveraging a network and wide community of companies, we can provide a wider impact and also help in community development and ecosystem building, like what ANGIN and Connector.ID do. I really think that based on my character and personal preferences, this is something that really suits me. I can also apply what I learned during my time at management consulting, especially in the assessment of companies, compatibility with founders, and portfolio management. So far, I feel very happy here.

As a VC, you’re able to see a wide variety of start-ups. From what you see, how are women entrepreneurs doing? How are the numbers? Do you see a lot in certain sectors?

This is a very interesting question. I’ve spoken at some panels and events on gender-lens investing and women’s entrepreneurship, and this question often popped up. I see that – and everybody knows this – women entrepreneurs are still very much a minority in Indonesia and in Southeast Asia. I would say that the visible ones are around 10-20% of all start-ups. If you look at our 20 portfolio companies, four companies have female founders. Four out of 20 is actually quite a good number for female VC-backed startups. We are actively trying to promote and encourage more women entrepreneurs in our investments going forward.

How does the investment landscape actually view these women entrepreneurs?

So when I said around 10-20% of all start-ups have female founders, those are the visible ones. But the VC-backed ones are even less than 10%. Yeah. And there are a few reasons for that. Which are actually due to how the landscape views women as entrepreneurs.

This goes without saying, but there’s a nonverbal stereotype within the VC community that I have actually observed and is also something backed by data. Recently, Alpha JWC had a female-led event called Alpha Female on women’s entrepreneurship and gender-lens investing. We featured some female leaders and practitioners that we see have great impact in female entrepreneurship. Some of them included: Sonia Barquin, a partner in digital banking, Dayu Dara, Head of GO-LIFE at GO-JEK, Alyssa Maharani of Google Accelerator and Grace Natalia, one of our female co-founders. We were talking about one very interesting data point from a Google research project indicating that there is a big discrepancy in terms of the proportion of males that got investments after pitching compared to females who got investment after pitching. Females are less likely to get investment, even though the content of the pitching was the same. The research was conducted across VCs, accelerator programs, and pitching competitions. To me, that is quite ironic. This is a data-backed research.

Even without data, I can see this in practice. For example, I was once in a chat with some other VCs and they were saying something like, “Oh the business idea is great, the market is big, but she’s the only founder and she’s female.” That to me is sad. Why? One, the community still holds females to unrealistically high social expectations. They ask, “What if she gives birth? What if she gets married? What about our investment?” That’s very sad, right? Second, they also don’t believe that females can scale themselves up or push themselves to be great tech leaders. Third, these people take it as a casual chat. They chat about it in front of me – who is also female – and they think of it as something that is very normal. To me, this is something that is deeply rooted in gender bias stereotypes. It is something that we – starting from us – really need to take action about, and a sign that we must encourage entrepreneurship from females. Create more chances for them, give more opportunities.

What are some tangible ways we can move forwards as a start-up ecosystem? Is it having more gender-focused events? Showcasing more stories? Or targeting a quota for women in portfolios?

Stories like these are definitely important. But what is equally, if not most important is actually how we take action. I like action-oriented initiatives such as gender-lens investing – really targeting female entrepreneurs and backing them to give them support. Second, we should not forget other female communities in the ecosystem who are non-founders. These are people like female tech enthusiasts, professionals, and leaders like C-levels, Head levels. They also need support. We should create support groups. Even small things like WhatsApp groups or small mini-networking events once a month, those are very helpful. I’m personally involved in some communities like this. One is SheVC, a community driven by female VC leaders and associates in Jakarta. Another is Fintech Female, a community driven by female fintech leaders in Singapore, including fintech founders, enthusiasts, and active investors like us in Southeast Asia.

How do we drive more female talents to the VC scene?

Similar to tech companies, tech VCs are also a male-dominated industry. Many times I found myself at a table or room full of men. In fact, in many pitchings I’m the only female. That is a fact. And so one solution is definitely role-modeling. Role-modeling is about two things. One is in terms of communication, the second is in terms of number. In terms of communication, initiatives like this – ANGIN Women’s Spotlight – is very helpful. Because you spotlight women in the ecosystem and that triggers other women to join and contribute in the VC landscape. In term of numbers, we should look into eliminating gender bias in recruiting. By hiring more women, we increase the number of role models.

I found very few female VC role models in Southeast Asia, especially in Indonesia. When I started my career as a consultant, one piece of advice that the HR told me was to look up to female role models at the firm in order to boost my development quickly. The firm at that time consisted of 30-40% female, with few of them in partner level. The female proportion is considered minority, but that is more doable compared to this industry. As a female VC – especially ones starting out in the first 1-2 years – it’s important to see how to succeed as a female. Even simple tips like how to self-brand, how to build presence, how to bring yourself in a meeting by asking right and targeted questions – those are the things we should get with more role models in the tech industry.

Men also carry responsibility for getting more females in the room and encouraging female role models. What are some tangible steps we can take to hold our male counterparts accountable?

I like this question! We’re talking about what men can do, right? One is eliminating gender bias in recruiting. If the quality of the candidate is the same, think about how to also balance gender in recruiting. Another is definitely during meetings, in pitching, or in discussions with other VCs, to try to really involve female counterparts by giving them a chance to speak or asking them questions, or even as simple as introducing them in the beginning. That helps in terms of confidence. Of course, we would expect a proactive approach from female VCs as well, but sometimes in a room dominated by men, that might be a challenge that is not really visible.

How do you go forward in your day-to-day being the only female in the room? Where do you get your confidence from?

The most important thing is definitely the mindset. If you think that because we’re female that we’re victimized, then we would act or behave as if we are the minority. Like we’re being discriminated, that we’re victims. I never felt like because I was female I had different capabilities than men. That has never been my mindset. But I see many females think that way.

A second tip is to try in every meeting, in every pitching, to give a good if not great impression. Show your credibility and capability, ask the right questions, and then give some good advice, some good feedback.

The third is to leverage our natural advantage as female. Being female, we do have one advantage in terms of character. We’re seen as more caring creatures. We are perceived as being able to understand and sympathize more with others than a man can. So leverage that. Because during pitching, entrepreneurs like to be listened to. Not just about whether they can be invested in or not, but also if we can give feedback to their challenges.

Have you yourself faced personal challenges? Any incidents of facing gender bias?

One is perhaps in terms of the jokes. I feel like some jokes are improper and can lead to sexual harrasment. Not extreme, but it’s still a form of harassment. For example, I once spoke at a tech event dominated by male audiences and they said, “Oh you should be his girlfriend, oh you might want to know me further.” It’s just improper. Building presence is very important. It can be done by not responding to those things while keeping ourselves polite.

Another challenge would be the one I mentioned before, where I saw some VC investors talking about a female founder, where they actually doubt her just because she is a female. The business is good, the market is big, but just because she’s a female – because she might get married or give birth next year, they chose not to invest. Those are the two incidents I see.

Do you have any advice for other girls who want to get into the VC industry?

One is to think about yourself as a pioneer. Because if you join now, you’ll be one of the first female VCs in Indonesia and in Southeast Asia. You’ll probably be one of the first 10% of the female VCs in Indonesia actually. While venture capital itself is a growing industry – we’re getting more mature, compared to a few years ago. Think about it as ‘we’re writing history and you’re being a part of it’.

Second, if you’re facing any challenges or any difficulties in building confidence, that is a very normal thing. But with time and through mentorship, by sharing with support groups or anyone you can trust, you can overcome it.

 

Dian Wulandari: COO & Co-Founder of Instellar

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Dian Wulandari, co-founder and COO of Instellar. How I got to where I am, it’s a long story. Basically I come from a PR & Marketing background. The last job I had was COO of Marketeers, a media and communications company focusing on youth. We did projects on oil, coal mining, DDI, and an NGO as well. I’m also a big believer in technology; I’m the woman lead of Google Business Group Jakarta – a community supported by Google.

Because I’m a believer in technology, I’m also an early adopter of tech. I used Google while it was still in beta testing. I even used GO-JEK when it didn’t have an app yet – you had to dial a call center to ask for a bike to pick you up. That’s how I got into this startup business. Even though I’ve worked at different companies, I always do two to three months of sabbatical each year to work for non-profit organizations and to do volunteer work. I’ve found that my passion is to help people. But I still have to pay the bills, right? So I go back to work.

I always wanted to have this balance – you want to do good but you want to make money also. And then I heard about the term “social enterprise” – a way to balance social and business. I co-founded Instellar with four partners. It is basically an ecosystem builder, trying to build an ecosystem where everyone can be a social enterprise. Well, I don’t really like the term social enterprise actually. My vision is that in the future there is no such thing as social enterprise. Every company should be responsible to the environment, to society. You don’t have to categorize.

We’re thinking that as an ecosystem builder we can’t just focus on one stage of entrepreneurs. We have to tap into different stages of businesses to make an ecosystem. If your goal is to achieve a vision where everyone is a social enterprise, when everyone is taking care of the planet and its people – it’s not going to work if you’re only focusing on the prototyping stage. We have to do it all as an ecosystem builder. That’s why we created Instellar.

In terms of creating a more socially-minded ecosystem, what work remains to be done?

I do think the first barrier we need to tackle is to stop looking at money as evil. If you have that mindset, you will think that having a profit is not the same as having an impact. Actually, that’s not the case – we can do both. I think that’s the first barrier we need to tackle. You know what they say about money being the root of all evil? Well I think that it’s actually the lack of money that is a root of evil. You can have profit and do good – the two are not mutually exclusive.

Instellar doesn’t only focus on early social enterprises. We do have to give consideration to big corporations as well. Take Ben and Jerry’s, for instance. They’re making good impact. They don’t use GMO products, they have a good business process, good business model, they make profit. I think these big companies also have to be shown in our publications, conversations, and awareness. Stop thinking about these big corporations as these evil, profit-creating entities. That’s the first barrier we have to tackle. Yes, there have to be better regulations and incentives – but it’s the mindset that we have to break down first. Having money and profit means you can do more.

On one hand, we have to shift profit-makers to making impact. On the other hand, we must also work with impact-makers to sustain themselves through business. It’s a balance between profit and purpose. From my experience, it’s harder for the impact entities to go to the middle than for the profit side. So we did have an experience incubating this NGO. Very good, very impactful, the team was also good. They wanted to change, they wanted to have a business model. Their operations of just asking for grants wasn’t sustainable. They really wanted to, but their mindset was very hard to change. For instance, when we asked them to increase the price they were reluctant.They felt it was hard for people to buy at a higher price. But actually for the same price it was very hard for them to grow. That’s the mindset.

In general, there are fewer women entrepreneurs in relation to other entrepreneurs, but there seems to be a lot of women entrepreneurs in social entrepreneurship. Why do you think that is?

Yeah, it’s true. There’s a growing trend in social entrepreneurs led by women. For example, we currently incubate 78 social entrepreneurs. Last year the proportion was 60% male-led, 40% female-led. This year it is 55% female-led and 45% male-led. So that’s a growing trend. Why? One, because again the global movement is different now. There is a lot of momentum in giving more chances for women to become entrepreneurs. And we do find that when women create something, they do it not just for themselves but also for their families. And women tend to be the decision-makers of the family. They’re thinking about others. It’s a common research topic – McKinsey and a few other consultancies have findings on it. I don’t know if it’s a stereotype or not, but I do think that women tend to think more about impact – not just about profit. That’s why a lot of social entrepreneurs are being led by women, and it’s coming from their hearts and solving problems in their societies.

One example: there’s Kostoom, an app for tailors to find customers. The founder, who is female, created it because her mother was a tailor. She found it was getting harder for traditional tailors to find customers. Since she knows tech, she created an app for it.

Do you think there is a greater focus on women in the startup space?

I think we are creating more opportunities for women. People are recognizing that there are more and more women-focused programs in accelerators that are being held in Jakarta, in Indonesia, and globally. I do think there’s a thin line between women’s empowerment and discrimination against men. A lot of people are asking, “Why only women? How about men?” Well, men already have all these facilities and everything, you can join it if you want to. The bottom line is that there are several things that women need to learn specifically. That are different. Problems that are different from what men are facing.

For example?

For example, being judged by your appearance. And then also this is a personal experience, but sometimes if your counterpart is male, they will sometimes hit on you. For other people it’s hard to draw a line between personal and professional.

But I think the bigger barrier for women is coming from within. One is the confidence level. I don’t know why – being in society, being in the patriarchy, it makes women more timid. For some of us, it doesn’t come naturally to speak their opinions – unlike men – because we are afraid of being judged. So that confidence level and fear of being judged…you don’t know what you think of yourself and you care about what others think. We’re born to this kind of society where we have this perception of what women should do.

Do you have any specific challenges you’ve faced as a woman in your industry?

I had problems while I was still new in Marketeers. I had joined the company for one year. I was in charge of everything. People talked about me, saying I’m a new kid, I’m female. People also judge their bosses differently when it comes to gender. When a male boss is meticulous, they call it “detail-oriented.” When it’s a woman, they call it “ribet (complicated/fussy) ”. Some women think about that and take it into consideration. They spend their time working on relationships instead of working on their professional goals. That’s one of the challenges of being a female.

When I talk to a lot of investors, some investors prefer to invest in women. They say that women are more reliable. They set realistic goals compared to their male counterparts. But the problem is that these females don’t want to be invested in. They don’t want to grow a bigger company. Why? Because one, confidence level. They don’t know if they can manage it, they don’t know if they can fulfill investor demands. Meanwhile, their male counterparts are more confident.

That’s why we have our workshops and trainings that focus on women. It’s not about business, it’s about soft skills. We teach them about unconscious bias, because it’s not just about men that harbor them. We as women have unconscious biases as well. Sometimes, women are also more judgmental to other women than to men. So before we change the world, we have to change ourselves first.

Do you have any advice for other girls who are facing those same confidence issues? How can we begin to overcome gender biases?

The short answer will be that when people say I’m bossy, I say, “OK, I’m the boss. So what?” I’m not bossy, I’m the boss. So just embrace it. It’s actually from my own experience. Once, I heard some of my subordinates calling me bossy behind my back. It hurt me from the very beginning. I thought to myself, what should I do? Should I be nice to them? It was important for me to get their approval. What I didn’t realize was that it was important for me to get the approval from them professionally. What they think about me, it’s not something I can change. What I can change is myself, how I interact with them.

You should recognize your own talent. Recognize your own talents and skills. Be humble, but be proud of yourself. For a lot of females it’s hard to take compliments. When you say, “You’re doing a good job,” their immediate answer is “The team is working on it, it’s not me, we’re working on it together.” Learn to say thank you. Embrace it. Be mindful but be proud of yourself. And learn how to say no. These tips sound simple, but try to practice it in your life. You’re good. You just have to believe in yourself.

How do we get to the point of creating a world where all businesses have social aspects when we live in a world where the system rewards revenue and not impact?

Well, I’d like to disagree with that. Because I think the world trend is going towards our direction. Yes, on the investment side they want to make bigger and faster profits. But I do think there is a shift in the global consensus as well when it comes to being socially conscious. Like the movement in San Francisco – all of those tech companies have high profit, but they do think about the welfare of the company, their employees, and the need to live a balanced life. To be a social enterprise, you not only need to be socially conscious about the world, but also about your employees as well. That has to be one of your considerations. It doesn’t matter if you’re giving a lot to society if you have modern slaves in your company. So I do think that the trend is going there.

The trend is going there in other ways. For example, governments around the world are now recognizing social enterprises. They give incentives – tax incentives. In Indonesia, we haven’t gotten those incentives. The latest case I know is Vietnam, where they have very good tax incentives for social entrepreneurs. We also see the B Corporation movement, which is going big and going global. I see a lot of big corporations are joining that movement and want to do good for the world.

 

[RECAP] Entrepreneur Summit Welcoming Alumni LPDP 2018

Every year as part of the Welcoming Alumni event, Lembaga Pengelola Dana Pendidikan (LPDP) would organize an Entrepreneur Summit which consists of a pitching event and demo day for the best 30 participants that have been selected by the committee. ANGIN was invited to attend this event on Mon (7/5). We are very excited to be able to see all 30 startups that were pitching their ideas. It ranged from technology to brick-and-mortar, with varying sectors and industries.

What we realize is that most of the ideas has social impact in their mind. There are thoughts of creating a zero waste movement in doing their business, help local farmers and fishermen, and also helping the rural areas in general. Aside from that, we also see that more and more startups are heading towards using technology to support their business. AI and IoT are two of the trends that most startups are following.
Overall, it is delightful to see that Indonesia’s startup ecosystem is growing everyday and how they are leveraging technology to drive their business. We wish all the alumni of LPDP the best of luck, and we hope to see more startups from LPDP next year!

About LPDP
LPDP is committed to preparing future leaders and professionals and encouraging innovation for the realization of a prosperous, democratic and just Indonesia. LPDP offers a master / doctoral scholarship program for the best Indonesian children, commercial and implementation research funding to encourage innovation, and rehabilitation of educational facilities damaged by natural disasters.