The Secret Behind the Success One of Indonesia’s Largest Venture Capital – For the 29th episode of The Real Boss podcast, Michael Ginarto sits down with the CEO of Prasetya Dwidharma, one of Indonesia’s largest venture capital. Together, their conversation takes us from the company’s beginning and challenges faced along the way to insights for startup founders looking for funding and life values that good entrepreneurs should hold.

The man behind this venture capital that has funded around 75 local and international startups is Arya Setiadharma. In 2008, Arya started it as a telecommunication contractor company but decided to expand by investing in software and tech startups in 2012.

Twelve years since it was found, Prasetya Dwidharma has invested in 40 startups in Indonesia, 20 in Singapore, and 15 in the United States. Some of these companies are software-based while others make IoT hardware, but all of them use technology in some form to solve a problem.

Tips if You Want to Start a Business

If you’re looking to start a business, Arya doesn’t believe it’s enough to think that “I can start this simply”.  You must also stay rational and research if there’s a suitable market for your product. Conduct market slicing to determine if the market size large enough.

For example, a company selling restaurant software will benefit from making it customizable because they can then target different types of restaurants (ready-made like Padang or traditional made-by-order system).

Venture Capitals like Prasetya Dwidharma usually wants founders who are willing to commit to their business up to 10 years. Lots of people quit after 2 years, but you should know that investing in new businesses is a long-term process.

The Four Stages of a Startup Journey

Arya explains the different stages that a startup may be in, and where different investors may want to come in. First is the angel stage, where ideas are still being conceived and finalized. Angel investors usually invest because they believe in the individual and want to support them.

Next is the pre-seed funding round, which is when the capital is first needed to start the business. The seed-stage doesn’t lie that far off. This is when the business plan is starting to take shape and we know who the target market is, although there aren’t any tangible result yet.

Once a suitable target market is determined, the demographics become clearer. This is called the Series A startups, who might already have several loyal and returning customers.

Finally, there’s the growth stage. Here, the founder begins to recruit a bigger team and delegate tasks that they were personally handling.

Which Comes First, Team or Product?

In the early stages of a startup, both founder and team are the most important elements. Business plan, on the other hand, can and will change to fit the target market. Arya explains that a founder should know what’s right for the company and be willing to let go of ideas that don’t work.

Prasetya Dwidharma is always on the look for founders with good leadership, as they will eventually be the leader from whom the company will grow. Anyone can start an idea, but it’s just as important to be able to lead.

Pitching to Venture Capital

Is a pitch back necessary to ask for funding from Venture Capitals?

“We’re just human, we have a limited [control of our spending],” said Arya. That’s why essential that he and his team can assess potential startups quickly.

Your pitch back doesn’t need to be perfect or too elaborate, but it’s best if you deliver a clear and straightforward thought process. Make sure your personality and the team’s come through. They will be the backbones of the startup’s journey, so the venture capital needs to know who your team are.


Benefits of Having a Venture Capital Back Your Business

Of course, not all businesses are right for a venture capital. You should know if your business is more suitable for a venture (high-return) or investors who are not looking for low-risk and low-return.

However, having a venture capital support you can be a gratifying thing. Not only can they offer capital support, but also mentorship. Venture capitals are informed about the trends that are working and failing around the world, so they can use this to give you valuable insights.

Maybe your business has the potential to target an international market. Or there’s a saturated market abroad that is still available in Indonesia. They will also warn you of the challenge and solution that other similar startups have faced, so you can avoid making the same mistakes, or at least be prepared.

Moreover, venture capitals can connect businesses and help you grow your network.

It’s hard for a VC to invest in companies experiencing a consistent drop in revenue. Looking for companies that can pave roads to profitability. Different investors have different risk levels.

Getting to Know Arya Setiadharma

When asked the one thing he is most proud of, Arya says: “I built my company in the right way”. He didn’t take shortcuts or evade taxes. He values companies that can make good impact on other people, even if their margin is small. This may not be the right approach for all companies, but there’s a sense of satisfaction in helping thousands of lives.

A dream Arya has is to build a non-profit organization in education and infrastructure to help bolster Indonesia’s growth. For instance, he’s looking for education startups that empower young people in all corners of the country. He would like to send people with scholarships to study abroad, but who are committed to return and help build Indonesia.

Business is hard, but Arya always focuses on having a good foundation at home as it reflects on how he performs at work. What makes us happy is our family, he says, because whatever happens outside, they will always be there to support us.

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You Haven’t Really Failed When You Fail

Arya also stresses that failure is part of every entrepreneur’s journey, even if you’ve put everything into it. Instead of giving up, you should ask yourself: What did you learn from it?

Wear your mistake like a badge, and say you know what you did wrong. The next time around, you’ll know how to do it better.

As a closing remark, Michael Ginarto reminds us that, “You haven’t really failed, you actually gained something.”

Hopefully, you’ve learned something valuable you can implement in your life and business. If you do need any professional guidance, you can contact Michael Ginarto for a consultation!

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