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Lessons Learned from Daniel Tumiwa’s Tech Journey

A tech startup's CEO, trying to be a founder of a startup

Prayogo Ryza - 30 September 2020

Daniel Tumiwa has a series of stories about his career in the tech industry. The thing that caught the most attention was when he led OLX Indonesia (OLX). In a time when the digital business was growing rapidly, OLX with the concept of classified ads was widely recognized by the public. Two years later, precisely in mid-2017, Daniel decided to step down from his position as CEO and then founded the adtech startup Adsvokat.

Daniel admitted to DailySocial that the decision to establish Adsvokat was not the main reason he left OLX. After resigning as the CEO from the classified ad company, Daniel did several innovations, including operating a coaching business, getting into politics, while simultaneously building Adsvokat.

“I saw the idea of Adsvokat was closer and more relevant at that time because I had previously run several startups and they were too advanced from their era and Adsvokat was more real,” Daniel explained.

Behind the fall of Adsvokat

Adsvokat was founded in 2018. It used to offer quite a unique concept. Utilizing traditional media such as car stickers, helmets, t-shirts, luggage tags, behind laptops, even on the back of smartphones as advertising media. They try to encourage young people to promote brands they like in exchange for additional income.

“The biggest failure of Adsvokat is timing. Too fast. The second is to miscalculate the cash flow game.”

He claims that the user registration process is not a problem, also the experience, there are no obstacles in tracking and measuring. This solution has already been accepted and utilized by several early clients. The problems arise due to inappropriate financial cycles. Users or agents need regular fees at the end of the month, while agencies experience a big gap in income. This unclear cycle is what ultimately forced Adsvokat to go out of business.

“The capital must be large to [be able] spin the money and keep the cycle coming in,” Daniel said.

However, Daniel does not regret anything about Adsvokat. He admitted that this startup was designed quite well with transparency since the beginning. In fact, he claims to always disclose the company’s balance, therefore, everyone knows the company’s financial condition. In times of crisis, he will say, “Guys, time to find work!”.

Adsvokat now becomes a history. For Daniel, there are always plans to revive Adsvokat. The business model he developed that time is still being considered with some players. This business model is claimed to be able to plug and play in several companies to explore new marketing strategies, although there has been no realization until now.

From professional CEO to a startup founder

Daniel’s experience is quite varied. In the last 5 years, he had been positioned at two different positions with different challenges, as CEO of a tech company and a startup founder.

In terms of responsibilities or workloads, a professional CEO must obey and comply with KPIs or goals set by the company or group, for example pursuing growth, revenue, user acquisition, and others. Meanwhile, the founder must take full responsibility for any aspects related to the smooth operation of the company.

“The pressure at OLX is different. The reporting line is different and I feel that the excitement is different. It’s a job as CEO at OLX. Adsvokat is mine and I choose to develop it,” Daniel said.

For Daniel, a professional CEO has an already running system and a fully organized dashboard. Usually, the focus is on the achievement of KPIs. Meanwhile, founders must think about more basic things, such as maintaining the sustainability of the company.

“As a founder, the lesson lies in cash flow [company finances]. [In addition] You have to be the magnet [to attract talented talents]. Having no value or expertise to be a magnet will be tough,” he said.

Daniel closed the interview with a suggestion for anyone aspiring to start a startup.

If you really want and intend of becoming a founder, I think you better stop, because your objective in making a startup is wrong. [Should be] you look a little deeper and start seeing things that could have been more efficient and eventually helped a lot.

In the beginning, it will take some process, because the journey as a founder is tough. If you really hope this startup will become a job and earn money, just stop once again. Because unfortunately at the beginning we have to spend a lot of money and spend money unless we have good backups.


Original article is in Indonesian, translated by Kristin Siagian

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