bukalapak_echelon_interview

Bukalapak President and Co-Founder Fajrin Rasyid

Get insights from Fajrin Rasyid and more at Echelon Asia Summit 2019. Happening on May 23-24 at the Singapore Expo. Tickets are now available at US$10 each!

The year 2018 was fantastic for Indonesian e-commerce startup Bukalapak.

After expanding to fintech verticals with the launch of their gold and mutual funds trading in 2017, the startup continued on adding new offerings for their customers with the launch of its O2O initiative Mitra Bukalapak, which enables individuals or small businesses owners to act as an agent for Bukalapak services.

With the launch of the initiative, the company managed to secure a total of 1.2 million new users (500,000 small businesses or warung owners and more than 700,000 individuals) in addition to the four million merchants in its online marketplace.

The company had also secured a partnership with Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) and the Ministry of Research and Technology to launch an artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud innovation lab at the campus, in addition to its own R&D centre.

Last but not least, Bukalapak had been crowned as Indonesia’s fourth unicorn startup through its latest funding round.

Also Read: Bukalapak confirms new funding round by Mirae Asset-Naver Asia Growth Fund

In an interview at the startup’s office in South Jakarta with e27, President and Co-Founder Fajrin Rasyid explains their views on the unicorn status.

“Being a unicorn is a means, not an end. It is just like gas stations; we need to stop at a gas station to add fuel [to our vehicle] so that we can reach our destination … We don’t build companies in order to look for investments. We are here to serve the customers,” he says.

“However, we are grateful of the trust given by our users and investors, which had encouraged us to give more to our customers, employees, and stakeholders,” he adds.

The sleeping giant

During our interview, we also discussed about the state of Indonesian e-commerce industry. Despite being the breeding ground of four unicorn startups, and continuing to receive a flow of funds from abroad, Rasyid sees that there are many parts of Indonesia’s potential that remains unknown to the international community.

“Some even called Indonesia the biggest invisible country,” he points out.

Also Read: Naver Corp possibly takes part in Bukalapak’s potential fresh funding

This has led to Indonesian talents being overlooked by the global tech community. Rasyid describes how the global tech industry is more familiar with tech talents from China, India, and Russia, but not with Indonesia. Meanwhile, there are actually many Indonesian talents who are working in tech giants such as Google and Facebook, indicating their level of capability.

Apart from the issue of visibility, the e-commerce industry in Indonesia also faced several challenges, including in the matter of payments. This issue has led to an even greater problem for industry players: Lack of trust towards online services.

“Many people [in Indonesia] have gone online, but only limited to functions such as chatting and social media. The percentage of people shopping online leaves much to be desired, and this is strongly related to trust,” Rasyid explains.

The launch of services such as Mitra Bukalapak is a form of the company’s effort to tackle the issue of trust among potential users, apart from introducing escrow system to their platform in 2011-2012.

“[Mitra Bukalapak] is able to give an introduction to online shopping through a more intimate setting with customers. Some people may feel overwhelmed when they first open our app, but when they are being offered our services by their owner of the warung, whom they might already known, it can help build trust between the customers and our platform,”

Get insights from Fajrin Rasyid and more at Echelon Asia Summit 2019. Happening on May 23-24 at the Singapore Expo. Tickets are now available at US$10 each.

Image Credit: Bukalapak