While the Indonesian public might recognise Giring Ganesha as the lead singer of pop music sensation Nidji, and a man who has starred at several movies, he has recently added a new entry to his resume: A startup founder.
In 2013, he launched Kincir, a social media platform for fans to interact with their idols. On Wednesday, he expanded the platform by launching Viral, a news platform targetting youth aged between 15 and 25 years.
“We learned that managing a user-generated website is a very tough challenge. How can we get more users? If people want updates from celebrities about their daily activities, there are already platforms for that,” Ganesha says, explaining the reason behind the expansion.
“I’m also a big fan of pop culture. Star Wars, DC, Marvel … And I noticed that the Indonesian media, when they are covering entertainment, they still focus [a lot] on gossip. No one is focussing on the niche and fun aspect [of pop culture] yet,” he adds.
e27 sat down with Ganesha to talk about what it takes to juggle two jobs, and his approach to building a more productive team.
The following are edited excerpt of the interview:
Tell me how your new career began!
It was on 2010, and my wife was eight months pregnant. We were obsessed with investing our money. Then I received an invitation to Mark Plus Conference (a marketing conference in Indonesia) and I decided to go there with my wife.
At the conference, I met Danny Wirianto. I was so starstruck; I just had to take photos with him. He was talking about Kaskus (a website similar to Reddit), and his speech was amazing! Especially since I’ve been on Kaskus since 1998. Seeing porn stuff in there, they don’t have it anymore, eh? (laughs).
But when I approached him backstage for a photo, he was like, “Hey! It’s me who’s supposed to take photos with you!”
That was the beginning of our beautiful friendship. Then he told me, “Giring, I am currently leading Merah Putih Incubator. If you have any [business] ideas, please just tell me about it!”
So I told him about my ideas for Kincir.
What motivated you to get into the tech industry?
I understood that in the future, no one [would be able to] live without tech. Back then it was enough to live with clothes, food and housing, but now you need to add the Internet too. It has become a necessity.
How do you manage your time between your band, movies, and the startup?
Very easy. I wake up early at 5AM. I get to the office by 7AM and my team is already there. Then we have a breakfast meeting until 8AM. [The rest of the morning] is meetings and the like.
By lunchtime, if I don’t have any agenda with Nidji, I continue until 4PM, then go home. Usually, all Nidji-related activities are happening after lunchtime. That’s how I manage my time.
Having a company that starts business at 7AM turns out to have many benefits.
One, my employees are freed from [dealing with] traffic jams. Two, they are still fresh. We used to start at 10AM, and by the time everyone gets to the office they all looked like they just got back from a war. Then comes lunchtime and after everyone has rice they end up feeling sleepy.
At first they were shocked when I announced we are starting at 7AM. But I told them, “Just give it a try, man, just one month!”
The result was amazing. They are happier, and they actually have a life because they can leave by 4PM.
I have an engineer who lives far away from work. During his performance review, he actually thanked me [for the new regulation], as he now has more time to spend with his wife.
I literally cried when I heard that.
Does your celebrity status come with any challenges of its own?
The good thing is that it is easier for me to build a network. I can meet with the big bosses without having to introduce myself.
The challenge is actually the investors. They all asked the same question: How do you manage your time?
The only way to face [that question] is by proving myself.
Any advice for those who would like to switch careers to tech?
I do not think I am in a position to give advice, but I would say just pursue your dream. If you have an idea, put in on paper, test the market. And if the market likes it, then expand.
Beside, in this day of age, everyone is an entrepreneur. We are an entrepreneurial generation.
Image Credit: Kincir