Achmad Zaky on the genesis of Bukalapak, Indonesia’s C2C marketplace
Achmad Zaky is a serial entrepreneur. In 2009, he graduated in computer science from one of Indonesia’s best universities, Institut Teknologi Bandung. Soon after graduation, Achmad Zaky started a services business and made enough money to support his tech startup, which he had launched in 2011. With his own initial investment, he started Bukalapak, Indonesia’s C2C marketplace, and raised capital from Takeshi Ebihara, a well-known investor in Indonesian circles. Today, Zaky is busy scaling up Bukalapak, having already signed up 60,000 merchants onto the platform. Let us delve a little deeper into the mindset of this young and hungry entrepreneur.
Why did I start Bukalapak
Bukalapak is a C2C marketplace that enables small and medium businesses as well as individual merchants to transact online.
Back in 2011, when I started this site, e-commerce experience in Indonesia was getting worse. So many people are using classified sites, forums and blogs to sell. There is a possibility for anyone to play foul. The number of fraud cases are increasing in online commerce in Indonesia, especially in the cases where people are not using secure transaction platforms. I see the trend is getting worse.
So, we launched a startup that controls the transaction experience a lot more, and we are secure and free of fraud. Also, Bukalapak is very easy for a merchant to manage. We provide a software to the merchants to manage their inventory and payments very easily and securely.
Early financing and finding an investor
Soon after graduating from college, I started a development startup where I executed a lot of projects over two years. I made enough money from that business to invest in my tech startup. Also, I was lucky to find investors like Takeshi Ebihara who believed in me early on, and wanted to solve the same problem that I wanted to.
I never thought we would raise money when I started. What mattered was we built a product and people would use it. At that time the situation was very different and Indonesia was very new to venture capital. Takeshi Ebihara called us for lunch, and we met him to discuss the Indonesian market, but by the end of the conversation we liked each other a lot. We discussed a lot about how to grow the venture very fast, and he agreed to put money in us and back us. We are lucky to have an investor like him partner with us.
60,000 merchants on-boarded, aiming 1 million
We have 60,000 merchants onboard as of today, we don’t charge any fee right now, we handle all of the transactions for free. We are not focussed on generating money right now, my team size is 20 people and what we are thinking about now is how to drive more and more usage. We can always figure out a way to make money later on.
Challenges in the Indonesian market
The biggest challenge is the market, though it is getting easier with time. In the last two years, we have seen that a lot of Indonesians call the merchants on phone and place orders, we want to move the market away from this model and get them all to directly transact online. Payments market is not yet mature here. Ensuring that the transaction model is secure and convenient is what we want to do. Our vision is to be the biggest platform for individuals and SMBs who want to sell online.