It was a big weekend for Indonesia’s technorati. The festivities began on Thursday, with the seventh edition of the monthly pitch-and-meet event, StartupLokal, where the mood was buoyant and the turnout was healthy. A presenter from local ad network SITTI captured the mood, saying, “It’s time for Indonesia to challenge Google AdSense!” Then it was on to the main program, the first ever SparxUp awards and presentations.
The SparxUp program wasn’t a regular tech event. For one thing, most of it took place in malls. A half-day seminar targeted at investors was held in the ballroom of one of the best hotels in town, the Kempinski. Except the ballroom wasn’t actually inside the hotel but in Grand Indonesia mall’s west wing across the street connected by a sky bridge.
Some star power was added to the event with TechCrunch’s Sarah Lacy, a mystery Zynga scout, most of the Koprol team, and a few serious-looking men in suits who were either Finnish VCs or random French guys, depending on who you asked.
The startup pitches and the actual awards ceremony took place in another mall, called fX, about 10 minutes away by busway (or up to one hour by car -AM). There was a stage, sound, lights, booths and booth babes to showcase the sponsors (mainly the carrier Telkomsel), and it was all set up in the mall’s atrium, where shoppers could gawk or participate.
Although SparxUp made everyone winners — there were three winners in each category! — two special awards were given out. Gantibaju, a localised Threadless, won the top prize, while LewatMana, a traffic cam monitoring service, came in second.
Once the awards were done, the afterparty started at the posh bar and restaurant, Loewy. Several members of the party moved on to a notorious Jakarta nightspot after the last vodka at Loewy was drunk.
Here are some of the SparxUp winners who I thought are doing cool things:
–LewatMana: Jakarta’s macet, or traffic jams, are getting unbearable. LewatMana allows users to see public police traffic cameras, and for users to share their own cameras, so that you’ll know where the macet is and when. It serves ads for revenue.
–Eevent: Another event management system, but one that integrates QR codes and check-ins. The QR codes can be used to register users at the event. Users can also check-in so other folks at the event get a live stream of who’s there.
–Orori’s Lovebunch: The basic idea is to educate consumers about wedding rings, and to allow them to buy the rings online. Orori also has a showroom in a swanky downtown Jakarta mall. China’s 9Diamond (a KPCB portfolio company) and Blue Nile in the US have already proven that online diamond and jewelry sales work, so Orori could be on to something. But the ‘Lovebunch’ stuff is mainly a gimmicky mobile app to help you ‘predict’ your compatibility with another Lovebunch user.
–Krazymarket: It’s another classifieds/e-commerce website, but Krazymarket does two things differently. It focused on niches like antiques, manga and other collectibles (it even helped sell a vintage car for US$600,000 once), and it helps sellers do their listings. The sellers tend to be small shops who are too busy to create an online sales channel, so Krazymarket takes pictures for them, helps them write their listings and so on.
–Parampaa: Super-simple casual gaming site based on brain-teasers and quizzes that claims more than 1 million plays across Indonesia.
–Mantel App: Facebook meets Basecamp. The user interface is a three-column, Facebooky layout, but it’s basically a project management website like Basecamp. The twist is that it’s targeted at recreational users, not just for work, making it a social network of sorts. Slick UI and it’s already being used by a government agency, according to the founder.