Startups, Clones and Bloggers
It doesn’t seem like such a long time ago when Techcrunch writer Sarah Lacy for a moment put the Indonesian startup scene in the spotlight. Sarah’s article “What the hell is going on in Indonesia” was a wake-up call for the VC’s that still didn’t recognize the fully potential of the Indonesian web and mobile market.
Just a few days later I flew from Bali to Jakarta to attend the second meetup of #Startuplokal. Despite the place being overcrowded and the event being somewhat chaotic one thing became clear, things were happening. There was this feeling of sharing and ambition to change the world.
Little more than a year later a lot has happened and a lot hasn’t. But things are changing and so is the general feeling about the digital startup market. Some of the promising startups haven’t lived up to the promise and some are getting extremely close to being discontinued. Local observers and bloggers in the industry increasingly express negative feelings towards this once so promising startup market. Some quotes just from the last month:
“The general outlook on Indonesian technology startups is grim.” – Aulia Dailysocial
“Indonesian so-called startups mostly web/app developers with some spare time and a cloned idea with little understanding of how companies are run and revenues are to be collected” – Treespotter
“..there’s a high dose of misguidance [red – in context of valuation] going on in the Indonesian startup scene” – William Henley
Not excluding myself, I also wrote there’s a lack of much needed aggression and execution in the Indonesian startup scene. For sure all this negativity lately has had its impact on the scene and some startup entrepreneurs are “not amused”.
Well, to say it bluntly to all startup entrepreneurs, LEARN TO LIVE WITH IT. Bloggers always tend to make safe bets in their posts, we basically hate to later be proven wrong. The fact is that negativity is always the safest bet, since probably 95% of all startups will end up in the oblivion off the digital graveyard.
And what about Treespotter’s flames as quoted above? He’s absolutely right! But my response to him is: “Yeah, so what?”. Probably followed by a “What have you done lately?” Tokobagus was build, launched and managed during spare time. So? Anything wrong with that? And yeah, it’s a clone, probably a bad one too in the beginning but clearly it evolved in 6 years. Looking back at my first startup I can only say OMG! How ignorant I was back then and what a mistakes I made. All startup entrepreneurs including myself make wrong decisions on a regular bases, but that’s so much better than making no decisions at all.
“Perhaps the strongest thread that runs through the Valley’s past and present is the drive to “play” with novel technology, which, when bolstered by an advanced engineering degree and channeled by astute management, has done much to create the industrial powerhouse we see in the Valley today.” – Timothy J. Sturgeon
Personally I don’t care what kind of digital company you start. If you think you can beat Facebook, by all means try to do so. The odds will surely be against you but the worst that can happen is failure. Again: SO WHAT? For sure you will have gained some valuable knowledge that will increase your chances on success in your next startup.
The time factor
Why do people think that what took Silicon Valley almost a century, creating a tech startup ecosystem, can happen overnight in Indonesia? And when it doesn’t happen it’s because of the entrepreneurs? Really? The creation of a digital ecosystem involves much more than just that. What about components such as infrastructure, experience, education, awareness, money and legislation?
Let’s be realistic here, the state of none of those components even comes close to what it is in the valley or any other more mature market. So I dare say that tech-startups in Indonesia have some extra hurdles to take. But the upside is that they’re more aware of the limitations, are used to them and can create leverage because they are better able to overcome them.
“Patience is the companion of wisdom.” ~St. Augustine
So concluding, bloggers are just people on the sideline cheering when things go right and booing when they don’t. And they will always say “You see? I told you so.” Not saying bloggers should be ignored but whatever negativity comes your way, just shrug it off, try to see what you can learn and try to prove the cynics wrong. For the rest, be patient, don’t derail and try to see the humor in all those rants of sideline bloggers, they have to write something.
Excuse me, I’ve got to sign of now and start working on my next bash post.
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