Indonesia is Internet Literate - FOR SURE!

It has been a full week! Had a lot of code refactorings, Obama, #StartupLokal and most definitely inspiration. The more I explore the business of being online in Indonesia, the more I realized that Indonesia is a market unique, vast, consumptive and most importantly very open to new ideas. You can’t see how open Indonesia is offline-wise, in the online world, Indonesia is not only the next big thing, it is the big thing!

I had an inspirational meeting with Sanny Gadafi of Fupei and a very down to earth IDC executive who likes to call himself “Tukang Internet”, that’s his title on his business card by the way. He likes to be called Bang Johar. IDC holds the only neutral data center in South East Asia for Indonesia.

Being neutral means that our Internet exchange is unfiltered, uncensored and not owned by a single entity. It is a collective effort to keep our Internet as open as possible. Anything we find on the Internet is knowledge and I feel that’s a strong enough principle to uphold its clarity. Indonesians are proud to have knowledge as part of our culture, with that knowledge, we like to ngoprek. Roughly translated to: hacking. That’s knowledge and experience.

It is amazing to see the statistical overview of Indonesia’s Internet traffic growth for the last 12 years. Over the last 2 year, the statistics doubled every month and that’s only local Indonesia traffic. I can’t say the exact numbers but suffice to say, it’s in the gigabits order. Enough to blow your mind and realize that our local traffic is growing like never been seen before in Indonesia with only an Internet penetration rate of just above 10%. There’s still room to grow!

With 10% of the general population, we have outnumbered any other South East Asia countries. Web startups have that opportunity in hand to ride the wave. We have local contents and that’s something that foreign Internet giants doesn’t have. They need us and we need them but our bargaining chips is much bigger. The Internet is all about data and transforming them into information that visitors can relate to. Every startup is basically a data generator and that’s our value!

Somewhere along the way, it is about time for web startups to join hands and grow together as partners. No matter how big or how small a startup is, each one of us hold an important role in Indonesia’s Internet identity. We have the power to define what’s hot and what’s not. Why not do it together? It’s hard enough to sustain a startup with local investors actually non-existence at this moment so why not unite?

While thinking about a title for this post, the first thing that crossed my mind was Unity in Diversity but I guess it’s overused, however the message is still the same. Our diverse cultural inheritance is our strength and also our weakness. In colonial times, we are divided with that famous latin phrase in our history lessons divide et impera. We can’t afford to loose faith, a startup is a business, in the end of the day, we need to generate revenue right? Let’s be proud with our national motto like what Obama wrote with his speech: Bhinneka Tunggal Ika which means exactly the same as my first title for this post.

Anyways, back to the meeting, we had a great talk about making all this idealism and still be able to capitalize on Indonesia’s amazing Internet growth. The most important lesson I learned was to be assertive about our identities as local web startups. It’s only a matter of time when our own .com bubble with burst again, when that time comes, we should be as one. Our values (read: valuation) is a collective effort.

It’s 2 AM now and tomorrow is a full Saturday, I’m gonna leave you guys with another quote from one of my earlier blog post:

You are GREAT, get used to it!