ANGIN Women’s Spotlight series seeks to showcase a diverse array of inspiring women leaders and their stories and experiences in order to shed light on the unique experiences of women in business. We hope that both men and women can gain from these shared experiences, that these stories can inspire change, and that other young girls are motivated to become leaders as well.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Pravitasari, and I am working on an application called TuneMap which is a GPS navigation app for visually impaired people who live in the city. We use crowdsourcing sites to connect visually impaired people with sighted pedestrians who will provide information about road conditions. Our aim is to empower the visually impaired community by creating safer roads to walk in, so they can lead a productive life and access proper facilities within the city. It’s about creating equal opportunity.
What was your background previously and how did the idea come about for TuneMap?
Firstly, I am an avid pedestrian who likes to walk a lot. As a sighted person, I feel uncomfortable walking on the existing pavements in Indonesia. At university I also studied psychology, which helped me better empathise with people who are different from me. If walking around the city was not accessible to sighted people, what would it be like for people who cannot see?
So I created Tunemap and tried to get it up and running with the support of some friends. We entered a UNDP competition, and through that, we were lucky enough to get connected with the largest visually impaired community in Indonesia who we work closely with in developing this project. We also work with UN volunteers in Indonesia who connect us with Indorelawan and also with the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MENPORA). We started with a societal mission, now we are trying to sustain this idea by also looking for funding opportunities to monetise our enterprise.
As a startup, what have been the biggest challenges and how do you overcome them?
It has been quite difficult finding fundraising such as equity, because we are focused on a very niche market and it is hard to find investors who want to invest in this market. That’s the challenge we are facing, but we are so glad for the grants we have received, which have allowed us to come up with the initial product, test it, and then validate it to the related stakeholders, to the users and to the beneficiaries – the visually impaired people. So the grants have helped a lot, but we know that we cannot rely on them in the long run.
the most important thing is to keep going. While fundraising is not an easy process, me and my team are clear about the why – why we want to do what we do. That keeps us going. We face so many failures and rejections. At least this year we prove that we can keep going and keep achieving one at a time.
What do you hope to achieve with your application?
We have two goals, that is, creating an inclusive and data-driven city. First and foremost, our focus is to empower visually impaired communities and provide sidewalks that are comfortable for them to walk on. After that, the benefits will flow to the rest of the community. The thing is, the government doesn’t know which areas to provide proper pedestrian footpaths and also who will use it. They have created pedestrian paths sporadically, without the use of data. So, we at Tunemap, are trying to solve that problem by using the data that is collected by the pedestrians to promote walkability in the city. Places like Jakarta but specifically Bandung, still have that walking culture. That’s why we started in Bandung, because a lot of people are still walking. Even if one person walks, they can make up to 20-30 report which is a lot of data collected already.
Being a woman co-founder in this startup ecosystem, have you had any particular difficulties dealing with gender dynamics?
I’m grateful that I have a team that is very supportive. Our co-founder is also a woman and our tech team is led by a man, and he is fine being led by two women. As women, we try to prove that nothing is different in leading. There may be limited interaction between us and the investors so we don’t know yet the ecosystem in the investor landscape towards women founders, but internally we have no issues with that. We are contacting with the stakeholders are fine with that, they will also be challenged coming from it, we are trying to figure out how to tackle it. Because I am also married, my challenge is how to balance my role as a leader in this enterprise and my role as a wife. So the challenges as a woman founder, requires time and effort in the workplace, so the challenges is between balancing the role, for me so far so good. The most important thing is communicating with your partner, so that we can find a way. As women leaders I think we should not lower our expectations of what we can achieve just because we’re women.
Do you have an tips on leadership?
I’m not a natural leader – so I need to read widely and observe from other people. I think for women and people in general who think they are not able to lead, don’t feel down, because everyone can lead. Just try to figure out what your weaknesses are, focus on your strengths, and where should you improve. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – either from your co-founders, teammates, or friends and family. As women leaders, we should not lower our expectations of what we can achieve just because we are women.
Do you have any female role models?
Sheryl Sandberg, of course. Through her book I realized that women leaders do have their own challenges but it should not hinder them to become a leader. Apart from that, I learned how to compromise with our partner without having to lower expectations on our own career aspirations.
What do you love about your work?
Since I was a child, my parents would tell me that the most important thing in life is how you can impact other people. So those values have been instilled in me from a really early age, they are what keep me going everyday knowing that our application is making a difference.