As a property investor, Kristian Bunjamin always felt that finding an apartment in Jakarta was a hassle. A belief shared by his friend Pauliady Widjaja.
Major property listing sites such as Rumah123.com and Rumah.com provided information on every kind of property from landed houses to office buildings, making it hard to find focussed information. Meanwhile, apartment-focussed listings such as Jual-apartemen.com allow users to list their property but without any control over the ad itself.
With the belief that finding an apartment can, and should, be simplified, the two then started property listing site Rukamen, with a focus on apartments.
“I know which particular building I want to live in, but I cannot filter the result just based on that building,” said Pauliady Widjaja, Co-founder and Business Development Director of Rukamen, describing the hassle of having to search for apartments in a conventional property listing site.
“We believe that apartment-finding should be treated differently (than any other kind of property) … That is how Rukamen was born,” he explained.
The first thing e27 noticed when trying out the Rukamen portal is that the user interface is simpler and cleaner as compared to other property listing sites. There is a search engine that allows users to look for apartments in a designated area, making it an ideal choice for potential buyers who know what they are looking for. Its map and street view features are also great for those who wish to look around first.
For property owners, the site is more convenient as it allows e-payment for every listing and gives more control over the ad they are posting. Once property owners have created their account, they can navigate through a dashboard as if they are posting on a blogger site.
This is the most distinctive feature as other property listings usually just ask them to send over information related to the property, then post said information on their behalf after they pay via bank transfer.
Apartments: Indonesia’s future home
According to the company, the apartment business in Indonesia is currently in full bloom, with the market growing rapidly in the past five years.
“Rukamen has records of 450 apartment profiles all over Indonesia. Of those, 100-150 buildings are newly completed, under construction, or in the planning stage,” Widjaja stated, stressing the fast growth of the industry. Though the economy is slowing down at the moment — with the Indonesian Rupiah falling hard against the US dollar — Widjaja has a strong conviction that the situation will improve in the near future.
His optimism on the future of apartments was shared by Ali Tranghada, Executive Director of Indonesia Property Watch, a research-based property consultancy and advisory board. Land is becoming more scarce and expensive, turning many Indonesians against buying a standalone house.
“Apartments will inevitably be the viable residential option in the next 10 years for big cities in Indonesia,” said Tranghada.
Plans to disrupt
Rukamen is a Jakarta-based startup with a team of three full-time employees and four part-timers.
Widjaja and Bunjamin funded the business through bootstrapping. “In the next six months, finding an investor is not really a top priority for us. We are more concerned with growing the user base and the contents of the website,” said Widjaja.
The company aims to become “the number one apartment listing website in Indonesia” as measured through traffic, total listings and user experience. To achieve that, tapping the smartphone market is definitely on the agenda.
“Indonesia has one of the biggest numbers of mobile phone users in the world, and we just cannot ignore that potential,” Widjaja stated. “However, we are also aware that only a small fraction of Indonesians are looking for their property through mobile phones. We are hoping to change it as we have seen in Korea’s Zigbang,” he concluded.