Sangat Pedas

5 #Startup Rules I Will Follow In 2013

December 30, 2012 by Remco | 2 Comments

After leaving Tokobagus in 2012 I’m basically back to square one  where I want to start new companies myself and invest in young promising startups. Around me there seems to be the expectation that whatever I will do it will become successful, just because I’ve had my share of success with Tokobagus. Obviously things are a bit more favorable for me than 7 years ago, but also for me goes Wall Street’s favorite disclaimer:

Past Performance is No Guarantee of Future Results

I think I mentioned it before, a large part of success is luck. I’ve seen a lot of once successful entrepreneurs loose a lot if not all their money because they actually started to believe that everything they touch turns into gold. My resolutions is to not fall into the trap of overestimating myself so I’m binding myself to some basic startup “rules”.
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Going Bankrupt? This Is My Story And Some Tips.

December 1, 2012 by Remco | 2 Comments

Around 4-5 years ago one of my working companies went bankrupt and around the same time my (ex-)wife decided to divorce me. I think that was the hardest period in my life so far and obviously the bankruptcy had less of an impact on my life than being separated from my daughter. Yep, it was a tough period in which I felt like a total and utter failure but not so much because of my company going bankrupt.

Obviously I’m not gonna write about my divorce but I do know that a bankruptcy by itself can have a big impact on someones life and can be really hard by itself. It was actually today that I realised I never shared anything about my experiences with going bankrupt. While in the US it’s mostly considered part of becoming a mature entrepreneur, in Holland people rather don’t talk about it out of shame. Well, let me tell you that if you’re an entrepreneur chances are you will go bankrupt once and there’s no shame in that, at all. You’ve tried and failed, NEXT!

This is all easy said in retrospect, but if you’re in the middle of a bankruptcy things can get really nasty and if you’re doing the wrong things it can have a severe impact on the rest of you’re life. So I would like to share my experience and hope you will never need them but if you go bankrupt I hope this will help a bit.

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No You Can’t! [Just means they don't get it] #startuplife

December 1, 2012 by Remco | 0 comments

I come from a lower-middle class family in which every month my parents  had the challenge to make it to the end of the month financially. We weren’t rich but we had a good life, food was on the table, we lived in a nice neighborhood and I enjoyed a decent education. My father was an army guy for basically his whole life and he was proud of that, even though his long life dream was to be a farmer. To make/save some extra money he worked his ass of in his ridiculously large garden he rented from a farmer, but he loved it. Every now and then when there was a lack of rain the kids had to help out in the garden and to be honest, we both hated that. I had nothing with gardening and thought I could spend my time better than carrying around 15 liter water cans. But it learned me the concept of working.

When you’re born as a nickel you will never become a dime

My father used to tell me “When you’re born as as nickel you can never become a dime” and  he advised me to choose for certainty by following his footsteps in joining the army. I guess this was a fundamental difference inopinion. I refused to believe what he said was true, I refused to believe that my life path was already roughly set. Looking at the era in which my father grew up I can understand why he said that, but I lived in a different world where I saw opportunities all around me.

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An Outlook On The Opportunities In The Indonesian E-commerce Market

November 28, 2012 by Remco | 11 Comments

It’s now been almost 4 months since Arno and I parted from Tokobagus and truth being said, I miss it a lot. After 7 years working so close with a great team and becoming friends I guess that’s normal. But the upside is that I had some time to put things in perspective and analyse things from the outside.

In the first month I left Tokobagus I was contacted by a reputable e-commerce company for a prestigious job which after some short consideration I declined for several reasons. I find that everybody assumes that my next venture will be e-commerce related, everybody but me. Yep, I love the e-commerce business, or more correct, I love the Internet industry.

Indonesia is in theory one of the countries with the most potential in the world when it comes to Internet and e-commerce. Every investor you meet will tell you the same based on the reasoning that every country in the world works the same. A very simple and defendable argument but without any notice of some fundamental differences in the Indonesian retail supply chain.

This week a remembered Rama from Dailysocial asking me about a year ago the question: “So what do you think about the Indonesian e-commerce market, is it gonna grow?” Back then I actually didn’t even understand the reason for asking and my answer was over confidently YES. But after 2 years in Jakarta and learning a lot how things work in Indonesia I totally understand why he asked me this and I’m not sure if my answer would be as confident as then. Probably now I would say it still needs a long time to really live up to it’s promise, 5 years perhaps.

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Why Tokobagus Is Changing - Big Time

May 6, 2012 by Remco | 0 comments

Little did we know when Arno (co-founder) and me started the Tokobagus adventure 6 years ago. At the time I was (and probably still am) an opportunist and somewhat of a cowboy. Great qualities when starting a company but when the company grows it also requires the same or even more growth from the founders.

The first years we were focussing mostly on volume, getting as much content as possible and getting as much visitors and page views as possible. And I’ll be honost, we enjoyed and still enjoy growth in terms of quantity. Growing >100% every year is a great feeling and one of the “programs” I watch most is “Google Analytics Real-time”.

Our strategy and aggressive approach has brought us where we are right now, undisputed e-commerce market leader in Indonesia and top 5 local site overall. This has made us Rockstars and one of the most sexy tech-company in Indonesia. But there’s a danger to that, it’s so easy to enter a “sit-back-and-relax” mode thinking we’re done. But luckily there are a lot of internal and external factors that tell us we’re not there yet and we need to do some growing up ourselves to get to the next level.

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Willis Wee vs. William Henley aka Dr. Doom - The Verdict

April 4, 2012 by Remco | 15 Comments

Bashes, rants and banters, up untill today the almost exclusive territory of Sangatpedas when it comes to the Asian part of the world. Until this morning when my sleepy eyes opened in a flash when I saw on Twitter Willis Wee calling William Henley “delusional“. For the not insiders, Willis Wee is the founder of TechInAsia blog, formerly known as William Henley is a respected corporate guy who recently made a move to investing and entrepreneurship and started as a writer on E27. Both are guys that I respect for expressing their opinion and both I know, to some extend, personally. So immediately I looked into the source of this battle that was looking more grim by the minute. It seemed William was the topic of a quite HEFTY BASH (mirror) on TechInAsia written by Willis Wee.

Time for an unbiased verdict from the unchallenged expert source #1 in the world, Sangatpedas. Check it!

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Startups And Obsession Over Competition

March 25, 2012 by Remco | 0 comments

Let’s talk about competition, in business or anywhere else. First intelligent thing that pops to my mind: there will ALWAYS be competition in any space where there’s money, power or status to gain. You might think DUUUHHH! but in emerging markets first movers tend to forget or not realize that. For a period of time some company is the only significant player in a certain space and then someone will show up and seriously challenge them.

Right now in Indonesia we see someone seriously challenging Tokobagus for the first time. After a long period in which Tokobagus dominated the market 701Search decided it’s enough and increased the marketing efforts to an unprecedented level for Berniaga. Rocket Internet is another player that’s basically challenging the whole e-commerce Industry striving for world-domination. And obviously the media portals are already much longer in a brutal fight for domination.

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Jakarta Founder Institute - Preparing Entrepreneurs

February 5, 2012 by Remco | 1 Comment

Andy Zain - Jakarta Founder InstituteIn general I’m a person that has an opinion on just about everything and I love sarcasm. Incubator programs like the founder institute could be great material to bash but that would be too easy and too cheap.

On one hand I was pretty sceptic on incubator/training institutes like the Founder Institute, but on the other hand the Founder Institute and other incubator programs fascinated me and I wanted to know more about it. So when I got invited to mentor at the Jakarta Founder Institute I quickly decided to accept the invitation.

If I would have bashed the Founder Institute before then probably the core of the bash would be that you can’t create entrepreneurs, in my opinion people are born entrepreneurs, it’s in their DNA. But that would have been a misconception on my side because the Founder Institute is not about breeding entrepreneurs. I don’t think the Founder Institute transforms people into entrepreneurs. While for a very few participants the Founder Institute is just the push they need to become entrepreneur, most will start their business anyway, with our without the Founder Institute. It’s already written in the stars, it’s their destiny.

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Bribe Might Be An Option, It’s Not A Requirement

November 6, 2011 by Remco | 3 Comments

A lot has been said lately about doing business in Indonesia and why companies like Facebook, Google and RIM chose Malaysia over Indonesia. Some of the reasons named are the lack or shortage in human capital, the bureaucracy, tax issues and maybe even some liability issues. And then there’s corruption and bribes. For as long as I live here the newspapers are full of corruption scandals often involving huge bribes. Complete drama’s between the police, government officials, tax officials and in the centre of it all the KPK, which is the anti-graft body in Indonesia.

So how hard is it actually to start a business in Indonesia?

First a big fat disclaimer. I’m a foreigner living and working in Indonesia. By no means do I think I know the Indonesian society better than native Indonesians. But, when it comes to foreigners starting a business here I think have something to say simply because I pretty much went through the whole process. So this is a post by a foreigner doing business in Indonesia intended for other foreigners who are considering to register a business here.

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People, Brands And The Search For The Perfect Wave

October 25, 2011 by Remco | 1 Comment

There isn’t hardly a week that goes by without having at least 3 nightly meetings. I prefer nightly meetings due to the pile of work on my desk and because it enables me to combine it with some nice food and an occasional drink. To be honest, a lot of those meetings are darn right boring and maybe even a waste of time. Sure, the upside is I get to know more and more entrepreneurs and investors in the business. The downside is that lots of times the agenda of my dinner company is to get to know everything about the Indonesian Internet market and Tokobagus in exchange for a polite thank you.

Tonight was refreshingly different when I met with Patrick Searl, a Digital Brand Strategist and a natural in connecting people. (Thanks to Selina for the introduction!) Sceptic as I am, the title Digital Brand Strategist could well be the topic of a nice rant, but not this Time. Someone who’s 26 years old, coming from the UK, mastered Mandarin and has been working for some big brands in China surely has my attention.

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