TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Yansen Kamto, the Chief Executive of Kibar, a start-up hub and incubator, is the man behind the National Movement of 1000 Digital Start-ups, which was launched in June 2016 by Kibar in partnership with the Indonesian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. His mission is to produce 1000 digital start-ups with a total valuation of US$10 billion across 10 cities in Indonesia by 2020. "The first three cities that we will focus on are Jakarta, Yogyakarta and Surabaya," he said. Then Bandung, Semarang, Malang, Medan, Pontianak, Denpasar and Makassar.
Yansen is a Chinese Indonesian who was born and raised in Pontianak, West Kalimantan and studied at the University of Technology Sydney in Australia. In September, he met with Tempo reporter Samantha Yap and shared that since he was young, his parents, instilled the mindset that he should not work for anyone but be his own boss. Growing up in a restaurant run by his parents, his mother also taught him that if he wanted to be rich he should also learn to share.
The target of 1000 digital start-ups by 2020 with total valuation of US$10 billion is a challenge to achieve. How will you do that?
When we want Indonesia to be the global player in the digital world, we have to first start by changing the mindset of the people. Secondly, we have to build the foundations of the ecosystem. I started a company called Kibar five years ago, with only one mission - to bring back the glory of Indonesia to the world stage by capitalising on digital technology.
But helping small to medium enterprises, pro-bono…
We are such a big country, we are such a big nation, but we do not have something strong when it comes to telling the world who we are. Indonesia is only really known as the home of terrorists. We even export haze to Singapore and there are a lot of corruption cases. I want to change that. I want to show the people in our country that we are actually capable of building something meaningful for the world, not just for ourselves. We want to be the global citizens in the digital world…It's not just about building the next e-commerce. It’s not just about building the next game studio. It’s actually helping people that want to see doctors, that want to be able to access education more easily.
What role can education play in facilitating the growth of entrepreneurs in Indonesia?
Education is probably the most important factor in really shaping a nation. I believe that we need a lot of change in our education infrastructure and of course the mindset. It's not something that we can change over night.
You work with a lot of universities right now, are they seeing the need to change?
That is the only reason why we are working with universities. We started with Gadjah Mada University (UGM), the largest university (in Indonesia). They have 55,000 students, more than 2,500 faculty members and more importantly 70 precent of the head of municipals in our country are graduates from there. Even our President is a graduate from there, so it's a very influential, powerful university. They used to be super bureaucratic. But you can see over the past few years, things have been changing.
How has this 1000 Digital Start-up movement been received so far?
For the first ignition in Jakarta, we only targeted 200 (applicants). And you know how many we got? We had 4,000 applicants. That gave us a headache and I can honestly tell you this is something that we did not expect. It has really given the team a moral boost. We know that we're going to succeed. We know that we’re going to make history.
How do start up ecosystems in Indonesia compare to Silicon Valley?
We will have our own story of our ecosystem. I want to start with promoting our diversity. I want Indonesian youth to realise that we are so rich in culture, we are so rich in terms of our diversity, we have so many things to offer.
What is your vision for the future start-up eco system in Indonesia beyond 2020?
I would love to be able to imagine that in the next five years, any young Indonesian who wants to build a start-up would think it's so easy, (that it is) as easy as selling phone credit. I want people to think that being an entrepreneur is not scary.
You recently visited a new Google open space for developers and start-ups in San Francisco, California and wrote, on their visitor feature wall, “This is YansenKamto - The Future President of the Republic of Indonesia.” Why did you write that?
For me, being a President is like a concept. I really dedicate the rest of my life to actually make real change happen through technology. I really believe that for Indonesia to be able to transform to a more developed country, right now is the only opportunity for Indonesians to actually contribute to the global society and create something to tell the world that we are no longer a market. We don't want to be a market. We want to be a player. (*)
Read the full interview in this week's edition of Tempo English Magazine