The writings say: "Think with your brain"

The writings say: “Think with your brain”

Recently, Kejora HQ announced its support for the Ministry of Communications and Informatics’ 1,000 technopreneurs programme by hosting a workshop series at their venue.

When tech startup ecosystem builder Kibar announced a partnership with GSV Labs to set up accelerator programme for Indonesian startups in Silicon Valley, with the end goal to produce 1,000 startups by 2020, e27 reaches out to Yansen Kamto for details.

“You have to ask the others whether they are co-initiating with the Ministry of Communications and Informatics (Kominfo), or whether they are merely supporting it,” the Kibar Chief Executive says.

“But what we’re doing with the government is generally a backbone programme. Everyone is free to chip in and contribute their parts,” he further explains.

Kibar’s mission is to build an end-to-end ecosystem for young Indonesian entrepreneurs by providing ignition programmes, workshops (such as Indonesia Android Kejar with Google), hackathons (such as Startup Weekend events in Jakarta, Jogjakarta, and Surabaya), and incubations in Jogjakarta (a joint venture with Gadjah Mada University) and Surabaya (co-initiated with Mayor of Surabaya Tri Rismaharini).

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The only thing missing is an accelerator, which will be filled by the partnership with GSV Labs.

“The duration will be three months: Startups are going to spend the first in Indonesia, the second in Silicon Valley then back again to Indonesia in the third month,” he explains.

“The ‘1,000 startups’ themselves are those who have taken part of the programme since ignition stage. No, you can’t just jump into the incubation. It is basically like a startup school where ignition is like the kindergarten, the hackathon is like primary … then the acceleration is just like the university,” he continues.

How does Kominfo fit into this picture?

Kamto said that by co-initiating the programme with them, Kibar receives endorsement from the Kominfo to run this mission.

“Since the beginning, we have always believed that the government has to be present in the ecosystem. They should support by creating regulations and policy that favour the ecosystem,” he answers.

The following is the edited excerpt of the conversation.

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Tell me more about what you plan to do with 1,000 startups!

Our 1,000 startups movement is in the form of building innovation hubs in 10 cities. These hubs consist of three things: coworking spaces, incubators and community centres.

Why 10 cities? Because we want all these cities to be connected … Enabling local startups to expand through our network of ten cities. For example, in Pontianak there is a startup called Angkuts, it’s basically Uber for waste disposal. If it wants to expand to other cities, then [the company would] already have all the resources needed.

It will be like a vicious cycle (laughs). And I think such concepts do not exist yet in other countries. We’re not talking about Singapore, of course, since it’s centered at Block 71. But even in South Korea, there is only Seoul. Other cities are being seen as unworthy.

Those ten cities are Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya, Jogjakarta, Malang, Denpasar, Makassar, Semarang, Medan, and Pontianak.

We are figuring out the ten cities based not only on infrastructure readiness, but also on the existence of ongoing startup communities and key individuals within it. We know the local tech bloggers … we even know which professor in which campus in which city has a strong passion for entrepreneurship! We also make sure there is an even spread among major islands.

We will kick off this movement on August, since there’ll be our Independence Day.

How do you ‘validate’ these 1,000 startups? Is there any particular sector that you are after?

Being a national programme, there has to be a target. We have made a calculation where the number is reasonable yet significant. Imagine if I tell you that we are building 50 startups in five years?

One thousand is not a very big number, especially since President Jokowi’s Digital Energy of Asia [mission] will take five years to fulfill. Divide 1,000 by five and you got 200 startups. Divide them by 10 cities, and you got 20 startups each.

And these will not be just any other startups. In the end, they should be able to secure between US$50,000 to US$200,000 of seed funding. They are being validated through the funding at the end.

No matter how smart or how dumb you are, someone puts a US$50,000 on you. That’s validating enough.

As for the sector, we are stressing on solving real problems and create real impact.

What are real problems? There are some sectors that we prefer: education, health, travel, then SMEs. Then more specific sectors such as agriculture and fishery.

We want to emphasize here that starting up is not about swag, not about trying to look cool. We want startups that solve real problems. We don’t want founders who are in it just for the hype.

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Let’s talk about human resource. Lately some Indonesian startups have been hiring, or even acquiring, foreign developer companies to work on their platform. Some people began to question if our human resource is really that bad. Do you think we have an issue? Or are they simply not being given the chance?

Those are two different things. First, I believe Indonesian talents are equal to anyone in the world. Yes, there are some who are lacking a global mindset, many of us lost it at confidence sector. While the fact is that there are many Indonesian developers working at Mountain View.

On technicality, we are very strong and on par. What we need to work on is that … Many of us just want to be a handymen. Not enough want to be a creator.

As for our startup friends who hire foreign developers, I think it’s a great move. To show that Indonesia is a global player. Those startups are building a world class team! I’d be proud to see foreigners working for us.

Why do we judge nationalism based on the fact that we are hiring non-Indonesians?

We should stop thinking of Indonesia as solely a market. In fact, we shouldn’t be just a producer! We should be a global player, starting from having a global team!

I bet Go-Jek is going to call me after this (laughs). “Yo, thanks, bro.”

What would be the most ideal education system to help Indonesia make Digital Energy of Asia dream come true?

Certainly a nation has to be build by its solid education system. What differs each person is how they think. There are no stupid or smart people. It’s all about the mindset.

Speaking from experience, we have a joint venture with Gadjah Mada University, a well-respected institution. We are there because we want to contribute in human capital development.

We even have a class in Bandung Institute of Technology, named ‘tech-based business’. It’s an elective subject, three credits. In the class students learn about everything from ideation to demo day. Making startup in the classroom. Available for students from all majors. It is inspired by Peter Thiel’s Startup 101 at Stanford.

We always choose our children — our startups — based on three things: Their muscle, brain, and heart. Working hard and being smart are not enough. We’re looking for children who have heart. Purpose. Energy. Intelligence.

Photo by Anisa Menur.