Asian clones of Western services are not new. Ask China. There’s the Facebook clone, Twitter clone, YouTube clone and tons of Groupon clones – and yet as Scott Rafer, CEO of Lookery said during his keynote at unConference’09 – the idea doesn’t matter, it’s the execution!
We recently stumbled across Gantibaju – Threadless with a large dose of Indonesian flavor and I got to speak to the co-founder of this portal, Aria Rajasa. Gantibaju was founded by Aria Rajasa (who runs a design firm called Rajasa), Anang Pradipta, owner of gamexeon.com (second biggest online gaming community in Indonesia) and Setyagus Sucipto (owner of iCreativelabs – a web development agency).
How it started?
As a proud Indonesian, Aria felt that there was lack of indigenous brands that the Indonesians are proud of wearing. Most of the Indonesian youth prefer wearing international brands such Esprit, Zara and Guess – and are ashamed to wear local brands, which results in many local brands christening themselves as overseas brands. This situation did not go down too well with Aria and he felt a need to address them. He says, “I don’t think that it’s wrong, but I believe I can make something different and beyond that.”
That combined with the fact that, international sites such as Threadless and Designbyhumans have many Indonesian designers competing and winning and yet receive no accolades or recognition at their home turf spurned Aria and his friends to start up.
Gantibaju currently has 6000 registered members, out of which 1/6th of which are designers. They receive about 600 designs per month and they receive about 150-200 sales order per month which I would say is a moderate start for a portal set up in August 2009. Asked about how he got a thousand designers on board, Aria mentions “Mostly through social networking and personal contacts. We also advertise on Facebook, increase the prize money periodically and try to get reviewed everywhere by talking to everyone and literally be at every event! At one time we actually personally messaged each Indonesian designers at devianart community to make them submit their designs,” and wistfully adds, “Fun times!”
Setting up a premium clothing online portal was not easy. Their two biggest challenges were accepting payments and culture. Currently, there are no major payment gateways in Indonesia, which limits the trust of their customers. But, they let their customers have a full refund if the tees don’t fit or exchange with a new one. On the culture issue, Aria mentions, “The other problem is culture, our youngsters are not proud of wearing local content because of the prejudice that local content is usually bad and ugly. We’re here to change that and it takes a lot of effort to change that paradigm.”
They were funded four months ago, but choose not to reveal the investor or the investment amount. But Aria says that it’s good enough to sustain the company for two more years. In addition to sales revenues, they have come up with sponsored competitions and reseller programs. They’re also opening up an offline store in Indonesia at fX Sudirman and plan to leverage on that for increasing sales.
Aria has plans to expand Gantibaju to Singapore, Malaysia and Australia due to the high concentration of Indonesians in these countries. His passion for the country and why he started Gantibaju is apparent when he says, ”I LOVE Indonesia, the people, the cultural heritage. I believe that there’s a lot that we can put on our designs from Indonesia. I’m proud of being an Indonesian and I want all Indonesian to be able to express that as open and as easily as I would.”