Getting to Know Nusantara Incubation Fund
Aulia Masna - 16 June 2011
On Monday we saw the launch of Nusantara Incubation Fund, a private investment firm set up by media magnate and technologist Anindya Bakrie of Bakrie & Brothers. He wants the company to be the birthplace of many significant technology companies run by Indonesians. As he said at the launch, he sees NIF fostering the next Kaskus and Koprol.
To delve a bit more into the company, we spoke to Hasan Yahya, one of the members of the investment committee who’s keen to see a new breed of companies built with purpose and determination to solve problems using technology, or even building the technology if necessary.
One of the first questions in the minds of those familiar with the industry is whether Nusantara Incubation Fund is the same as Nusantara Ventures, an investment company set up in Singapore in which the Bakrie group is also involved in.
Yahya explained that in order to invest in Indonesian companies, it would be much easier to have an Indonesian investment firm directly dealing with the regulations and the process than having a foreign company enter into deals. This is where NIF comes in, whereas Nusantara Ventures was set up to handle later-growth stage companies in the Southeast Asian region. Both share the same principal as well as some committee members
Asked if it would create confusion in the market given the similarity in the name and operation, he stressed that when it comes to dealing with Indonesian companies, NIF would be the banner they go with especially since it is geared towards early stage funding.
The NIF he says, was created because, “The Indonesian internet industry is certainly coming to an exciting phase and presently there’s a noticeable gap of available funding for smaller startups (smaller than 1M USD). We realized that the internet ecosystem would benefit greatly from having support at earlier in their growth stage and decided that NIF should focus best on finding the best ideas and the best teams. We can bring a lot of value into the portfolio companies and accelerate growth.”
He has a keen interest in seeing companies work to figure out Jakarta’s traffic problem. While solving it may be too large of a task, there could be ways to chip away at the problem by focusing on very specific issues.
When looking through the submissions of ideas and companies, Yahya said, “There’s lot of things to consider in tech startups but mainly I’ll be interested to look at great, talented, dedicated team.”
The biggest issues facing Indonesian startups according to Yahya are designing and articulating what vision they may have for the projects they work on. Additionally, they often fail in producing executable plans due to lack of experience and exposure.
While the United States has had decades of history and experience in technology entrepreneurship, Indonesia only jumped in to the scene some time in the late 90s. Many of the first crop of Indonesian startups (or dot coms as they used to call them) have shut down and their founders and players either nowhere to be found or reluctant to make another go at it. This leads to very limited resources and experience from which the current founders can tap into.
Fortunately major companies and entrepreneurs from other industries are beginning to see the potential of technology as a driving force behind the country’s economy and recognize that the players in the scene are becoming valuable assets when entering the global technology industry.
NIF he says, would “help a lot during the fundraising phase to help them design and develop a plan to deliver on the ideas. The synergies with other properties within Bakrie TMT group is also an opportunity so we could throw a lot of weight in helping nurture the ideas.”
image by JasonRogersFotograph, used under creative commons