Indonesia born and America educated Danny Oei Wirianto worked in the US for 11 years before returning to Indonesia to build and nurture the Indonesian startup community. Today Danny runs the MCM Group which owns Indonesia's first digital startup incubator Merah Putih, 8 startups and 4 agencies.We caught up with him to get a glimpse of his work. Edited excerpts:
My first startup
I studied arts. I started my career as an Art Director at Adobe. Post Adobe I worked with two marketing agencies. In 2001 I started my own brand marketing communications agency in the US. I moved back to Indonesia after that, and started a digital marketing agency called Klix Digital.
Growing the Indonesian startup ecosystem
After I started my digital agency in Indonesia, I realized the lack of ecosystem here for startups. I decided via MCM Group we want to help create the ecosystem. In early 2008, we started negotiating for Kaskus (Indonesia’s largest online community), then for the next four years as part of Kaskus I helped the company grow before handing it over to the younger leaders. In 2010, we brought in DailySocial (a media site to focus on startups). In 2011, we announced the first startup competition Sparxup and allocated 20,000 Rp for the winning idea.
Today MCM group owns 8 startups, 4 agencies and one incubator. The incubator is called Merah Putih.
Details of the 8 startups
lintas.me (social news recommendations site)
krazymarket.com (online marketplace)
dailysocial.net (a media site to focus on startups)
infokost.net (find boarding house listings online)
kaskus.us (Indonesia’s largest online community)
mindtalk.com (an interest based microforum)
bolalob.com (sports news)
kincir.com (music fans club)
Every year Merah Putih picks two companies to incubate.
Personal involvement with Mindtalk
Mindtalk is a microforum that allows people to create their own online community based on interests. We met Robin Marufi (founder of Mindtalk) from Wonosobo (a small town near Jakarta). Right now all the startup activity is based in Jakarta, and we believe we should encourage startups from smaller towns and other regions of Indonesia. Robin is also a very strong founder with a good idea. That is when we decided to back Mindtalk and I got closely involved with building and scaling the product.
Hot sectors - gaming, music, mobile
Mobile is touted to be a very hot sector, but we do not have any exciting startups there yet. In gaming, we have AGATE. In music, we have melon.com which is a leader in the market.
A word to foreign entrants
A lot of foreign companies are trying to enter Indonesia. But the best way to do it is to partner with local guys who understand the characteristic of the market and regulations here.
GDP Ventures is an active VC in Indonesia. There are many foreign incubators such as East Ventures which are doing good work. Angel investors are very rare in Indonesia. Startups are a big movement in Indonesia right now, but we lack tech and marketing talent.We thank Danny for sharing his views with us on the Indonesian ecosystem. We wish him all the best as he grows the market for everyone, and we shall keep you posted about his activities.
For more details, visit the website http://www.merahputih.co.id/