There is no doubt that Indonesia is enjoying a tech boom – venture capitalists poured in from all around the world to fuel this exciting epoque enabled by rapidly improving infrastructure and a strong sense of entrepreneurship among the youth.
However, many have been complaining that it is difficult to recruit and retain good local talent. While there are more than 3000 tertiary educational institutions in the country, including 573 universities, the number of engineering graduates entering the market is still catching up with the demand.
While companies like Grab built local R&D to a certain extent, many are looking elsewhere to hire – GoJek has a big engineering team in India, while Shopee manages its tech from Shenzhen.
How about startups?
Mohamad Fahrizal Septrianto, CEO of Wellcode.io, believes that the existence of big, well-funded tech companies, certainly impacts the hiring of tech talent by startups. “Many engineers we meet always try to compare salary and perks at the work environment,” he says. “Of course in these areas, big guys can offer more than startups like us.”
Wellcode started as a software house working on projects for the public and private sectors. It has since evolved into building its own products. Currently, it is building a series of products that enable SMEs in Indonesia to tap into the information age.
This fits nicely with the booming e-commerce landscape where many Indonesians are opening shops online with platforms, as well as other channels. The existence of multiple channels, platforms, and social media also means that many SMEs and individual sellers find it hard to cope and manage. This creates a nice ground for software automation that serves as an intermediary – a gap that Wellcode is looking to fill.
Fresh graduates, always
To scale the talent base, Fahrizal and team go to universities, such as UNPAR (Universitas Katolik Parahyangan), ITB (Institut Teknologi Bandung), UNPAD (Universitas Padjajaran), Telkom University, etc.
ITB in Bandung is recognized among the top three universities in Indonesia, together with the University of Indonesia in Depok and the University of Gajah Mada in Yogyakarta.
While fresh graduates lack experience, they are often eager and fast learners. “We have a curriculum to train and groom these fresh graduates”, Fahrizal says.
In addition to the normal fluff such as vision, culture, and commitment, a practical draw for young engineers is that: at big companies, they will become part of the well-oiled machine with less ability to try new things and learn fast. In a good early-stage startup they can.
The multitude of projects also gives the engineers good exposure to try different things – something that is greatly appreciated by the young blood.
He adds that giving engineers a global perspective – what is happening in China and elsewhere – not only helps broaden their vision but also keeps them excited on the job.
“Many of our engineers come to the office on Monday morning and leave on Friday evening,” Fahrizal says. “Yes, they sleep in the office.” He explains that this should not be a surprise as Jack Ma’s Alibaba had that culture in the beginning as well.
Fahrizal adds that many Indonesians actually prize trust and loyalty. “We hope to create the easiest place for people to become an entrepreneur,” he says.
That rhymes well with Jack Ma’s vision: to make it easy to do business anywhere under the sky.
According to data from various government and international agencies, there are currently about 59 million MSMEs in Indonesia, most run by microentrepreneurs. Among these only, less than 4 million have used any form of digital technology, mainly e-commerce.
WellCode was initially set up by Fahrizal and Wicaksono as an IT company for public and private sectors. It clients include several ministries (notably Ministry of Health), Astra Honda Motor, and University of Indonesia – the best in the country.
In 2019, the team embarked on a journey to develop AI-powered systems for MSMEs in Indonesia. The first step is to integrate with e-commerce, logistics, payment, and social media. The product, Pinterusaha.ai, will be available for free for any MSME to use.
According to the founders, many MSMEs suffer the lack of trust when they try to access partnership or financing, and without good human resources, they also have a deficit in market access. These issues can only be addressed through a digital tool that truly gives them the power of information.
Fahrizal and his team will be present at MWC Shanghai on 26-28 June as part of the Momentum Works delegation. Join us!