This is a note taken from Journalism Workshop of Global Innovation though Science and Technology in Jakarta, Indonesia on April 17, 2012.
Issue one: Journalists can build awareness of Indonesian entrepreneurship and startups
– Technology innovation has been in Indonesia for a long time.
– Jakarta is the Facebook capital in the world.
o This is important because people from around the world start thinking there is something interesting happening in Jakarta. Let us go over there.
– Participants were asked to name some Indonesian technology companies
– There are 1500+ online Indonesian companies. Why don’t we know about them?
o We need to hear about them.
o Challenging, because many of these online companies are run as a side company.
– What is problem for Indonesian entrepreneurs?
o Lack of information in the market
o Entrepreneurs go to international media to learn about the market – seeing what is going on the US
o The Indonesian entrepreneurs start to copy other ideas such as Groupons
o So one issue is in creativity of the startups in Indonesia.
– Kaskus (www.kaskus.us)– Kaskus is the largest online portal for Indonesia – yet only 6 million people.
– Another problem facing the startup environment is the disconnect between reality and perception of startups. Journalists can address this disconnect by finding national stories. As of now there is too much foreign media, when what is really needed is greater understanding of the national market and more reporting on the news that is occurring in Indonesia. This will come from Indonesian reporters.
Issue two: problems facing Indonesian entrepreneurs, and how journalists can help entrepreneurs succeed
– What a startup needs to go to the next level
o Money: There is not a lot of money. Businesses start at home, in garages.
o Promotion: No money to do promotion.
o A client base: If no one knows, no one uses. Therefore, we need people to learn about the enterprises, and this is how journalists can help. Journalists can tell the story about startups, and how they can be useful to society.
– Find the founders, ask them how they started the company
– Ask the users how they think about the technology they are using.
– Use the technology yourself, and then you can write about the product from a user’s point of view.
A story from an Indonesian Entrepreneur.
From this anecdote we learn the decisions that an entrepreneur makes, and can gain insight on where new stories can be found within other startups and companies.
– Toto first created his own company to have freedom to create his own software. His company was offering “Core banking software” And the business grew from their first client to many more. He employed mainly programmers. In 1994 Toto saw a need of internet connections in Indonesia and his team created the first internet service provider in Indonesia.
– In the 1980s investors and entrepreneurs were not yet talking about benefits of IT going to consumers. But with more people using email and internet browsers in the 1990’s, the technology market shifted to focus on consumers. In the late 1990s a big financial crisis hit the region and the number of banks in Indonesia fell from 200 banks to half that. Toto’s company, whose clients had mainly been banks, had to decide how to react to that change in the market.
– They set up a software camp: Balicamp.
o Recruiting young programmers, and then they set up their own data centers, and became outsourcers. So banks didn’t want to run their own data anymore.
– Inflection point: Deciding to maximize a certain source of revenue.
– Thinking about business models, and possibilities that are made and possibilities that are closed off from the decisions they make.
o Where is the revenue coming from?
o Does a certain decision help the company grow?
– Toto used his location in Bali in order to lure programmers to choose his company. More beautiful location to do work they were good at.
– Toto didn’t interact much with the media. But when he opened in Bali, everyone heard about his idea, and were reporting on it.
– Toto’s thought on the media
o We had a good experience with the media.
o The media didn’t understand that the company was restructured. They thought that the company’s expansion into Bali meant it was a failure, and not an evolution.
o The media often doesn’t see the intentions behind the actions.
– A smart media person
o Then instead of shallow or negative reporting you have reporting that demonstrates understanding and the truth of the matter.
– Started his company DailySocial without a government permit
– Social media unites all. You can write to someone on twitter, they may respond to you. You can connect with people you didn’t know before.
– Barack Obama is even known to reply to a few Tweets.
– Rama continued his discussion in Bahasa Indonesia.
Structure of journalism
– Yosef started his own publication in order to start his new organization: Digital News Asia.
– Journalism is powerful in that it constrains the topics and things a society can talk about.
– Creating a better journalism society, is therefore important
o Creating strong communities. Aggregate good blogs to work together to produce a wider array of high quality content.
o Get mainstream media to promote and team up with these good niche blogs.
– Michael Smith at Koprol
o Helped Koprol succeed.
o Used online as a way to create real life, online tangible meetups.
o Qualification propositions
o A way to keep IP from being stolen.
Technological problems facing Indonesian companies and their political barriers
– Technology in Indonesia is difficult because you need to do end to end services – not just offer a product.
o For instance payment and shipping are services that aren’t always reliable in Indonesia, so you have to include that in your product/service offerings.
– What is impeding online payment?
o 14M of 250M people. Probably just 7M users. Of those, who will want to do online banking? The market for online payment is very small.
– Banks cannot get licenses from the central bank in order to authorize use of their money transfer platform.
– Entrenched interests delay innovations.
o Banks like to be the only ones to hold money.
– The Indonesian government is not taking a lead in order to make regulations and tell banks to act well.
– Does Indonesia have a political system that creates disincentives to efficiency?
Started a blog in 2004 in UC Berkley
– Yosef says “You can live from blogging.”
– With only $22 of investment he bought the domain name.
– He just wanted to test with starting his own blog, he already had readers.
– Yosef’s thought was: Why do companies pay $2500 for Bloomberg? Will people instead pay $1/day for access to his blog? Thus he set the blog subscription price at $450/year.
– Many of his subscribers come from financial centers.
– Yosef spends nothing on marketing, relying on word of mouth. From his blog’s earnings, he also finances the free blog.
– Mainstream media controlled by commercial conglomerates in Indonesia.
o Companies or special interest groups often start their own newspapers to say what they like.
o Most people have no idea that these papers are sponsored by companies and take the stories at face value.
o This is an unfortunate state of affairs, but can best be countered with quality reporting.
This blog is a way to get quality reporting into the inboxes of people who appreciate good reporting
(Credit goes to Amanda Gant)