From: M&I Vol.49
In my Top Ten Rules for Going Global, one of my rules is “Steal.” As long as you don’t break the law.
Nama Bill Reichert pertama kali saya dengar melalui sejumlah tulisannya di media berita online. Cara pandang dan pemikirannya yang tidak biasa soal entrepreneurship khususnya start up dituturkannya dengan sangat brilian. Dan belum lama ini, Bill diundang datang ke Indonesia sebagai salah satu pembicara soal technopreneurship dalam ajang Young Entrepreneur yang digagas salah satu perusahaan BUMN, dan kebetulan, saya merupakan salah satu finalis yang juga mendapat undangan sebagai peserta pada hajatan tersebut. Sekalipun pada akhirnya kami tidak berjumpa, namun karena tertarik dengan cara berpikirnya, saya pun menghubunginya via email. Sebuah percakapan pun berlangsung yang semakin meyakinkan saya bahwa pria ini punya ide-ide yang tidak biasa. Bill Reichert seorang venture capitalist di Garage Technology Ventures. Sebelum di Garage, Bill adalah co-founder dan senior executive di beberapa perusahaan teknologi seperti Trademark Software, The Learning Company dan Academic Systems. Bill meraih B.A. a di Harvard College dan MBA dari Stanford University. Dia adalah anggota pendiri dewan dan Ketua Churchill Club, dan Charter Member dari Silicon Valley, asosiasi pengusaha startup. Dan untuk berbagi cara pandanganya soal technopreneurship khususnya di Indonesia, berikut saya tuturkan kembali hasil perbincangan kami.
What do you think about technopreneurship prospect in Indonesia? Is it good opportunity? Because, as everybody knows that we’re not good enough in technology [China has 550.000.000 netizens and Indonesia only reaches 55.000 netizen. Besides, entrepreneurship in our country is not a popular career with percentage of 0.8%]?
Not everyone in Indonesia knows that Indonesia is not good at technology. I’ve now met several Indonesian entrepreneurs who have developed very interesting technical products. There is a game developer, Agate, that is doing very well. And a Wi-Fi platform developer, Advedia360, that has a very compelling product. And another company, Kuma, with a payments platform technology. Every college student in Indonesia, it seems, is active on Twitter and Facebook. They will all expect technology to be pervasive in their lives, and some of them will take it on themselves to develop technology innovations for Indonesia, rather than wait.
What are the best technopreneurship criteria for you?
Technopreneurs are problem-solvers, not inventors. They are more interested in making a difference than in making money. The enjoy collaborating with a team of talented individuals to build a business that will have a real impact. They are passionate, they are curious, they are confident, but they are not arrogant. They listen, they argue, they fight for what they believe in, but they put fact ahead of opinion. They are never satisfied. They keep trying for something better. Very few Americans fit this profile, but there are enough to make America the most innovative economy in the world. Very few Indonesians fit this profile, but there are enough to build a thriving innovation ecosystem in Indonesia.
Start Up has a lot of barrier to grow in Indonesia, so what should we do?
Unlike Silicon Valley, where innovation and entrepreneurship are highly concentrated and entrepreneurs have access to tremendous resources and support, the entrepreneurs in Indonesia are scattered and left on their own to succeed. Indonesia needs to bring together communities of like-minded people to be part of an innovation ecosystem and provide support for entrepreneurs. Bank Mandiri is taking a big step toward this by creating the new Mandiri Business Incubator in Jakarta. This is a start, but much more needs to be done. The good news is that just a few leaders — business leaders, universities, investors and government — can make a huge difference in building and sustaining such communities.
Based on our culture and demography, what are kind of businesses that great for us?
There are no constraints on the businesses that can be successful in Indonesia. As the fourth largest country in the world, Indonesia can sustain innovative businesses in every sector, including information technology, mobile applications, life sciences, materials science, renewable energy, and more. Indonesia is proud of its batik industry and its foods, but the country should think bigger. In particular, Indonesia can be the world leader in renewable energy and clean water technologies. Indonesia has the best resources in the world to be a laboratory and a showcase for these technologies. Indonesia can also be a leader in innovation around transportation and building materials, leapfrogging 20th century technologies.
Why do you think that Silicon Valley is hard to build in Indonesia? Thought, we must have one place looks like Silicon Valley that can be a community place to grow together?
It does not make sense to try to replicate Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley benefitted from a very unique historical accident that turned a bunch of fruit orchards into a global technology hub. The geographic accident created a concentration of talent with a singular focus on high technology innovation. Though Indonesia cannot replicate the geography of Silicon Valley, you can create a community of like-minded people dedicated to a shared vision of building an innovation ecosystem in Indonesia. At the core, the key to Silicon Valley is not the geography, or even the intellectual resources and the financial resources. The key is the culture — the attitude of collaboration and innovation.
So far, Indonesian Technopreneurship only copy-pastes the idea of US. Is it good for us?
A lot of people disparage the practice of copying or cloning successful technologies from overseas, but the historical reality is that is how countries have prospered throughout history. Leveraging prior successes is the basis of progress. Apple copied technologies from Xerox PARC and SRI. Google copied technology from Overture. Facebook copied technology from MySpace. It is the story of progress. Once the copiers have caught up with earlier leaders, then they have the platform to move ahead. In my Top Ten Rules for Going Global, one of my rules is “Steal.” As long as you don’t break the law.
About 10 years earlier, we have so a lot of information about school & academy of technology, and a lot of student are chosen. How long will we get the result from that?
I can already see the payoff from investing in technical and entrepreneurial education. It may take longer than we’d like, but the seeds are planted. I met a company the other day with a medical monitoring product called AortaLife that won a prize at a Silicon Valley competition. Again, the process will be accelerated if Indonesian businesses increase their willingness to work with startups.
What do you think about the crisis in America & Europe? Will it make impact to us?
Indonesia is part of the global economy. Right now the country is still very dependent on natural resources for its economy and its global trade. As a result, the country is subject to fluctuations in the global prices of those commodities. To the extent that the country can continue building out its middle class, its economy will diversify and become less vulnerable to external shocks.
And what is your opinion about capitalism?
Obviously, I’m a big believer in capitalism. But I also believe that government has an important role in supporting education, research and innovation, and in making sure that the marketplace playing field is kept fair. Silicon Valley could not have emerged in a socialist economy.
In our society, specifically in remote village, we have such a sacred mystic or believe about magic. What should we do about it?
In our society, in certain communities, we have people who believe that Sarah Palin is qualified to be Vice President and other crazy stuff :-)You can still build a vibrant innovation ecosystem with a small fraction of the population of Indonesia.