Echelon 2014: This startup is your amiable guide in Jakarta
Started as an online magazine, JKTGO aims to help both tourists and residents discover Jakarta’s myriad attractions and eventsBy Shiwen Yap 05 Jun, 2014
If you live in Jakarta, called “The Big Durian” by locals, the question you often must be hearing on a Friday night is: “Eh mau ke mana ya?” (Hey, where should we go?). An answer to which JKTGO can promptly come up with.
An online city guide, JKTGO was started with the idea of helping people discover Jakarta. With its “zig-zag roads” and dynamic ambience, one always finds something new at each turn in this bustling metropolis.
Many Jakartans are passionate urban explorers, including the founders of JKTGO: Lydia Sju, Angel Chyntia and Ian Wongso, who is the CEO. From their own experience, they realised that they always had difficulty finding new and interesting places to explore and also had very little information at hand.
Magazines, blogs and other information portals simply weren’t effective in providing up-to-date information on different nightlife locations, pubs, nightclubs, restaurants and other lifestyle businesses, according to Wongso. Having worked in the media sector before for Indonesia Tatler and A.S. Louken, he observed that people often grew impatient waiting for monthly publications.
Even with a wealth of information, Wongso found that many Jakartans were still clueless about where to go; they wanted a guide that was reliable and up-to-date.
In order to address this, Wongso and his co-founders first thought of creating an online magazine. However, after two months of ideation and attempting to position themselves as a unique city guide, they tossed out the overall concept and thought afresh.
The new look
The JKTGO team realised that Indonesians didn’t read, but skimmed through photos instead, hence they decided to omit articles. They placed brief summaries filled with key information such as maps, addresses, phone numbers, food recommendations, places where alcohol was served, and smoking areas. They made it into a pictorial guide, knowing that if a place visually delighted Indonesians, they would visit it.
Completing their concept of a curated online city guide, they decided to showcase only the finest spots in the city. All the venues, activities and events listed in JKTGO had to undergo vetting in order to remain consistent.
JKTGO initially built its brand by launching on Instagram in April 2013 – five months before its incorporation – to build a user community. User response was good, and it grew to over 5,000 followers by the time of its incorporation and market entry.
According to Wongso, JKTGO’s Instagram page is where most of its users are active and highly engaged, with 24,000 followers and growing. JKTGO’s site on the other hand has maintained a consistent level of readership, with over 40,000 readers per month. 48 per cent of them are frequent and recurring visitors.
Without using any complex advertising or promotions to grow its brand, the team simply used Google Adwords and Facebook advertisements to increase its reach. Believing brand evangelism to be key, it eventually found that most users were referred to by friends and family.
Joining Echelon and Future Plans
The JKTGO team came to know about Echelon via online media and decided to participate in the Echelon Indonesia Satellite event, where it won the People’s Choice Award. Now its future plans include expanding the reach of its new privilege pass, Jakarta Pass, whose holders will enjoy privileges ranging from discounts and complimentary desserts to exclusive event gatherings and giveaways.
Besides collaboration with merchant partners, it intends to seek out investors during and after Echelon 2014 in Singapore. Part of its plans include creating an online platform for merchants and offering travel deals, as part of expanded offerings.
Echelon 2014 is a two-day Startup, Technology and Business event where Asia’s most innovative startups, early-stage investors and tech industry leaders as well as tech media, gather to celebrate and build Asia’s growing tech industry, as well as make valuable relationships.