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Rachmat Kaimuddin and Bukalapak’s Ambition to be a Sustainable Company

The goal is to create a company that could last for over a century

Marsya Nabila - 14 January 2020

Succession becomes a rare thing among startup stories, especially Indonesian unicorns. However, Bukalapak aware that it’s necessary to have new leader in order to level-up.

In the process of becoming a sustainable company, Rachmat Kaimuddin is appointed by the Founders to head the marketplace at the time it’s turning 10 years.

He has a professional background with expertise as a leader across industries. Recently, he was the Director of Financial and Planning in Bukopin.

Kaimuddin debuted as a Senior Associate in one of the management consulting firms, Boston Consulting Group. M Fajrin Rasyid had his time at the place before starting Bukalapak with Achmad Zaky and Nugroho Herucahyono.

During a short interview with DailySocial, Rachmat said that leading a tech business hasn’t been his career objective. He aims for something that allows him a chance to create a direct social impact.

” There is an opportunity that happens to be in line with my goals, I don’t think it’ll come twice. This is not a matter of Bukalapak [because of a technology company] is cool or a unicorn, but as a company that can create a lot of impacts and I see that myself can contribute and the opportunity [to do that] is there,” he said, on Fri (1/10).

The bigger picture is, Rachmat was appointed to run three things. It’s to make sure Bukalapak becomes a sustainable organization, made of strong resources, and benefit all the stakeholders, also to expand SMEs in domestic and global coverage, online and offline, through technology and innovation.

Also, creating a place for the nation’s talents to learn, work, and benefit the country. Thus, Bukalapak can continue its journey as a company that can last more than a century, the chance is only 0.0045% in global.

“I came to a well-made organization, more mature for governance, risk compliance, company infrastructure that should’ve built as well. These implicit things are what they [founders and shareholders] expect from me.

Under Kaimuddin’s leadership, he ensures to preserve the company’s vision and mission. Also, Bukalapak’s founders still actively maintain their responsibility.

Along with Fajrin as Bukalapak’s President, they’ve divided some tasks. Rachmat will be in charge of the company’s overall. Fajrin, on the other hand, has responsibility for external relations, governance, compliance, and legal stuff.

Transferring experience into Bukalapak

A symbolic act of Achmad Zaky handover to Rachmat Kaimuddin
A symbolic act of Achmad Zaky handover to Rachmat Kaimuddin / Bukalapak

Bukalapak is no longer a startup. Entering its 10th anniversary, the company has reached a milestone with over 70 million users and 420 million in-app visits per month. There are five million merchants and three million Mitra Bukalapak have joined the platform.

In terms of financial records, it is well-maintained with valuation reaching up to $2.5 billion. Per 12 December 2019, the company noted an increasing year-on-year transaction of 30%, it also marks the highest transaction of all time.

The overall performance should’ve appreciated, it shows more people are making a living off of Bukalapak. By all means, to survive the next stage, Bukalapak must build up the infrastructure and aim for a sustainable business, without denying the core of startups as the company’s DNA.

Besides, unicorn doesn’t happen to all startups, it’s indeed a national asset. There’s a moral obligation to be succeeded and make your country proud.

Kaimuddin himself has a background in engineering and finance. Lots of things have been taught and able to escort him as the company leader. Engineers taught logic, to simplify the complexity.

In fact, he learned to analyze the problem first before judging something’s difficult to avoid early insecurity. Meanwhile, the science of finance is not just a matter of calculating numbers, the common thread is to make effective business decisions for companies.

“As basic insights, I can [lead] whatever the business is, I have moved between industries so far with kinds of job roles, thank God I can survive and always be able to support.”

The basic knowledge also helps him, particularly when running the banking business. It helps his comprehension of risk and compliance well enough to transfer the knowledge into Bukalapak.

“The risk was meant for brakes, a sign that when you decided to run fast, make sure the brakes didn’t fail. This company wants to speed up, with experience in governance risk and compliance, I can help it.”

It also comes with his experience while in charge of the real sector, service & manufacture, he has deep thought on the supply chain and production side.

“I will transfer these experiences to Bukalapak. Basic logic and leadership too, through this white and thinning hair I wish I can be of more help [in Bukalapak].”

The leadership style he offers in the previous company and in Bukalapak has its similarities. He stands for an open egalitarian concept, not to place himself as a high-positioned leader but as a peer instead, and through open communication.

“Fortunately, the communication here is very fluid, I have applied this to the team in my previous company, freedom of expression, assuming it has good intentions for the organization, I just continue what has been formed.”

The next strategy

Bukalapak's C-Suite level in the 10th year anniversary / Bukalapak
Bukalapak’s C-Suite level in the 10th year anniversary / Bukalapak

He believes that Bukalapak, under his leadership, is to become a sustainable company and be able to make a significant profit and business growth until we no longer need fundraising. It’s contrary to what is happening right now, with the concept of sustainability.

In his opinion, it is likely to happen whether we can create the right business model. Growth of revenue and income can be higher than the growth in costs and expenses. When the curve passed it, Bukalapak’s dream to become a sustainable company will do come true.

“We’ll find which one can produce and to-be-pushed. Many companies can grow the business and become profitable, what I see is not something that is impossible [for technology companies].”

However, becoming a sustainable company doesn’t mean we have to perform layoff. He ensured what happen last year won’t be repeated. Previously, there was an internal arrangement resulting in the must-taken decision. Currently, Bukalapak employs around 2,100 people.

“I think we’re done. 2019 has its ups and downs, this year we are being more optimistic, it’s just the beginning of this year and it’s still a long way.”

He continued, the e-commerce competitive map doesn’t scare him. Each has its own market share, including Bukalapak. In terms of statistics, only five percent of micro and small businesses have digital access.

As the number increases, there will be new values, markets, and products to sell. Everything we have in mind is not to happen all at once. “We pray. What we’ve seen and right in mind, we’re on it, through the right calculation and mature planning.”

“I always say that we have to be the best version of ourselves. We can’t be other people. Bukalapak was born 10 years ago for a purpose, we must continue to grow in a better direction every day in order to serve our users,” he said.


Original article is in Indonesian, translated by Kristin Siagian

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