Elisabeth Kurniawan, CEO & Editor-in-Chief, The Shonet

Earlier this year, Indonesian social media platform The Shonet closed an undisclosed seed funding round by Maloekoe Ventures.

But in an interview with e27 at the company’s office in South Jakarta, The Shonet CEO & Editor-in-Chief Elisabeth Kurniawan reveals that it is currently raising for a new funding round.

“Since our growth had surpassed our projection, we are now raising to keep up with our growth,” she says.

Launched in May 2017, The Shonet is a social networking platform that is aimed for fashion, beauty, and lifestyle (FBL) experts –from vloggers, bloggers, to practitioners such as makeup artists and fashion stylists.

For a start, users can curate and share FBL products that they are recommending (“mix-and-match”), based on the inventory that is available on the platform –just like in Pinterest.

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But once they have stepped up to the next level –becoming “insiders”– they will unlock the ability to produce their own content, in the form of articles. These insiders are also allowed to share their portfolio, enabling them to gain a wider audience for their works.

“We are basically a product search platform. Instead of going to five different e-commerce sites to look for a product, users can search for the trending product on The Shonet,” Kurniawan says.

“Fashion and beauty are defined by people. We give power for them to connect, create, and share their inspirations. That’s the future we are looking at,” she stresses.

Kurniawan says that The Shonet currently has over 7.5 million visitors with four to five million monthly active users.

The platform has recently introduced a new category for men’s FBL products, and according to Kurniawan, it has helped widen their audience and attributed to the company’s growth.

“We launched a men’s segment because we see a gap in the market. Since its launch, our visitors increased by two million in a month,” she says.

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Having been bootstrapped for two years, The Shonet monetises through advertisement on the platform.

In the future, the platform aims to add an e-commerce element by enabling insiders to sell services –such as makeup artists or fashion stylists– on the platform.

“We grow based on [the spirit of] community and we have a content-based approach … so users are acquired through word-of-mouth,” Kurniawan explains.

“Take the example of makeup artists and stylists, back in the days, magazines were considered as a home for them. But time has changed and with The Shonet, they can display all our their portfolio there, give tips for users … It is like Facebook or LinkedIn but for FBL,” she continues.

For these insiders, the startup also routinely hosts offline training programme on various topics such as SEO and content writing.

“We are just like Xiaohongshu but with a twist. The twist is in the social network and community element,” Kurniawan points out.

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Growing fast

Kurniawan is an example of startup founders who started out their career in other field but tech.

She pursued her career as a fashion buyer in the US before returning to Indonesia to work in retail, also as a buyer.

Her introduction to the Indonesian startup ecosystem happened when she was working at IDN Media –an online media company that has recently made its foray to e-sports with the acquisition of GGWP.ID.

During her time at IDN Media, Kurniawan helped build FBL news platform POPBELA from scratch.

“That’s when I saw the opportunity to build something with digital media. In the old days, people used to look up to the media to discover lifestyle trends. But today we are looking up to individuals,” she says.

“If we want to build trust among Millennial and Gen-Z, we need to create a social network,” she adds.

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Run by a team of 35, The Shonet is currently expanding its tech team, with the goal to grow the company into a 50-person team.

When asked about their targets for the fundraising, Kurniawan was not able to disclose the figures. But she says that the company’s plan is to dominate the Indonesian market for FBL platforms –and eventually, Southeast Asia.

“What keeps me awake at night? [The thought] that we are not growing fast enough,” she stresses.

Image Credit: The Shonet