From $100/month job to a multi-million startup exit in 4 years – Kevin Mintaraga’s journey of XM Gravity

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7 years ago, Kevin Mintaraga was a Computer Science student and an avid gamer in Melbourne, Australia. When his father fell ill and Kevin had to return home to Indonesia, all he knew was that his family needed him. He had to drop out from a course he loved and had no idea what he was going to do with his life. Today’s circumstances can often make the future look dismal, but Kevin envisioned a bright way ahead and went on to create it for himself.

He started up, scaled up and exited the Magnivate Group, an Indonesian digital agency which he founded in 2008. XM Asia, a part of WPP – world’s largest digital marketing and advertising group, acquired Magnivate group in 2012 and it was renamed as XM Gravity. Kevin is still the CEO of XM Gravity and leads a team of more than 120 members.

In 2007, Kevin found a job in Jakarta that entailed web marketing. Though it paid just $100/month, Kevin took it up. While working for 3 months, he researched and realized that the digital marketing and advertising space in Indonesia had huge untapped opportunities. Government’s and telecos were trying to expand and strengthen the internet infrastructure in Indonesia. Indonesian companies’ expenditure on digital marketing was just about 0.4% of the total marketing budgets as compared to 9-10% in other developed countries with greater internet penetration. Foreseeing the upcoming opportunities in the digital marketing and advertising space in Indonesia in the coming years, Kevin started Magnivate group with some other partners.

Kevin says, “I was 23 years old and I was inexperienced. I had no idea about anything, digital marketing or advertising. I learnt everything by reading and researching the digital marketing space in the U.S.A, Europe, Australia etc.” Finding clients and convincing them was a pain for Kevin in the beginning. The market he was targeting was mainly the digital advertising agencies from whom Magnivate could get some projects and there were very few of them in Indonesia. On top of that, Magnivate was not a full fledged advertising production house but just a startup and it did not make things easy for Kevin.

Kevin started thinking of other approaches to acquire customers. To showcase Magnivate’s offerings, the team made their own website, with all the things they were capable of, to present to potential clients. Kevin wanted to grab the opportunities from established brands and digital agencies in Indonesia and around but had no connections with them at that time.

Kevin found one ground where he could meet hundreds of his potential clients – Ad Tech Conference in Singapore. He looked at the list of all the attendees beforehand and shortlisted the ones he wanted to showcase Magnivate’s work to. Kevin went to the conference, looked at attendee’s name tags, found the people from his list and introduced himself and Magnivate’s work to all of them. With a lot of networking and follow up e-mails, Kevin started getting work and queries both from Asia Pacific.

Magnivate Group started getting projects, they were growing organically, revenues started increasing YoY and the client list kept getting bigger and better. Kevin says, “Service companies do not need big money, they just need to keep the ball rolling and they can grow.” The growth was so fast that in 2012, XM Asia acquired Magnivate Group to bring it under its umbrella and since them it is known as XMGravity.

Kevin gives the credit for it all to the people in his team. He says, “What kept me going through the years was my passion to create and scale Magnivate Group and the people I worked with. I always want the people working with me to be happy and successful. If you figure out the right responsibility for the right person, they will definitely be successful.”

Speaking of the eco-system support in Indonesia, Kevin says, “There did not exist any startup eco-system for digital media or advertising when I started. The support was zero. These days we see many investors coming in from other countries. Japanese investors are investing in technology companies. Students from Harvard and Stanford come to Indonesia and start up.” Kevin has started a pre seed fund to support startups in Indonesia.

Kevin’s parting words truly portrayed his character - “I don’t have a degree but now people are ready to employ me.” Humility, passion and courage to make things happen is what Kevin has in abundance and no degree matters in front of this.

Website: XM Gravity

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