What's up with Yogyakarta's Startup Ecosystem? A Chat with Kopi Chat: Deep Dive Series

In this month Kopi Chat: Deep Dive Series, we aims to unravel the growth of startup ecosystem in Yogyakarta. Together with the key speakers the Head of Aditif, Saga Iqranegara; CEO of Gamatechno, Aditya Arief Nugraha; CEO of Wideboard & Co-Founder of Srawoeng, Gisneo Pratala; and Managing Partner of G45 Ventures, Arie Liyono and Agustin Marjanti, the General Manager of BLOCK71 Indonesia, as the moderator, we delve deeper into the issues behind the startup ecosystem’s growth, how it was before, what factors supply its growth, and what could we do to compete globally in the startup market.

The discussion was opened with a bit of a biographical question on how these experts ‘dived’ into the industry. Although they started differently, there are some things and values that they agree upon. Before, the startup line-up could only take references from big corporates like Apple, Microsoft, and so on. Therefore, building a startup from scratch is not an easy task, especially when forums, incubators, and even more ecosystem builders, did not exist.

According to the explanation that has been given by all the speakers, compared to before, the startup ecosystem in Yogyakarta has taken a major turn. With Yogyakartans’ nature that is open to changes, the startup ecosystem positively develops towards a more technology-based startup. Liyono highlights how the existence of forums and ecosystem builders, such as Kopi Chat and BLOCK71 Yogyakarta, helps boost the startup ecosystem and market further. He had realised that the future of startup is digital. Another factor that boosts the growth of startup ecosystem in Yogyakarta is the opening of the branch office of startup from Jakarta since Yogyakarta is seen as a place with high productivity and high quality talents. Nonetheless, the people in Yogyakarta tend to be too lenient and easily offended, hence they oftentimes cannot handle harsh feedback that is meant for their progress.

However, the speakers also highlight that It is also important to realise that there has been a change going on in Yogyakarta. Although the culture of ‘baperan’ (lenient) is still thriving and inhibiting the advancement and the development of startup market in Yogyakarta, the people of Yogyakarta are now braver, especially the young generation, to explore many things. These things include themselves and their passion. Pratala also adds that being persistence is the key. He tells us that he was once, like any other college student, was in the wrong major. However, he was passionate about business and technology and his mechanical engineering major could not stop him from pursuing the world where he feels he belongs to, the digital startup. The CEO of Gamatechno, Nugraha, also emphasised the same thing. As he’s been in the industry for 17 years, he thinks that the key is persistence and commitment.

After recognizing these factors that encourage the growth of startup ecosystem, the next step is to consider fixing the things that need to be fixed so that local startup can join the global competition. The first is to upgrade the quality of human resources, whether it is soft skills or hard skills. No matter how advanced the technology has and will become, the human touch is still needed. The aforementioned human touch needs to be on-par with the technology, so that the desired development and expansion of the startup market will reach satisfaction. One thing that is sure to be useful in any field is English skill. It is a must to be literate in English as the competition right now is no longer between cities but the neighbouring countries.

Another thing is to counter-attack the Yogyakartans’ nature to be too lenient and soft-hearted. The speakers know that it is one of the uniquenesses of Yogyakarta, however, they do believe that in doing business, or in a professional situation, being too lenient and soft-hearted will only hinder the progress of a startup and startup market. Hence, it needs to be noted that they are not asking the people of Yogyakarta to lose their uniqueness but to employ it accordingly.

 

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