Indonesian e-commerce platform Bukalapak announced today that it is planning to build an R&D centre that focusses on researches in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and drone delivery.
The centre will be located in Bandung, West Java, where the company already has a team of 20 engineers in the city.
“For many years, the [Indonesian] IT industry has been playing the role of ‘installer’ [of other countries’ products]. This is why we want to focus on developing local talent. If possible, we do not want to open an office in India, because we have the obligation to develop local talent,” said Bukalapak CEO and co-founder Achmad Zaky in a press conference at the company’s eighth anniversary event.
The company is currently finalising the budget and looking for location of the facility. Once set, Bukalapak is targetting to have 30 to 50 per cent of its engineering team in the R&D centre.
“Jogjakarta might be dubbed as ‘the city of students’ but Bandung is ‘the city of engineering students’ … There are many campuses focussing on STEM in Bandung, even more than in Jakarta,” Zaky explained why the company chooses Bandung as the base of its R&D centre.
Bukalapak is also in talks with several universities in Bandung and the city’s Smart City team for a possible collaboration.
The Jakarta-based startup claimed that it has experience three to four times growth in transaction in 2017. It has secured 35 million monthly active users (MAU) and 320,000 daily transactions.
“Around 35 per cent of netizens in Indonesia have accessed the Bukalapak platform at one point,” Zaky said.
The company is currently being run by 1,200 employees and have 2.2 million small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on board their platform.
In November 2017, Zaky announced that the company has secured unicorn status through their latest funding round.
When asked about the details of this funding round today, he declined to comment.
“Unicorn or not, it is not the most important for us … Our focus is to continue to grow and give impact to a great number of people,” he said.