IT Boot Camp in Indonesia
Indonesia’s rapid adoption of the Internet and social media, as well as its massive population and burgeoning middle class, has earned the country’s tech industry a lot of attention recently. With an average of five to 10 new start-ups popping up every month, local and international investors are intently eyeing the country’s growth potential. That’s why the Founder Institute, a training network for tech entrepreneurs that started out in Northern California’s Silicon Valley, is to open its newest branch right here in Jakarta. The institute is currently active in 17 cities around the world, including Washington DC, Paris and Singapore. Indonesia was chosen over Vietnam and Japan as the next host country for the program partly thanks to a survey conducted by the BBC’s Extreme World series, which named Indonesia as the world’s most entrepreneur-friendly country, followed by the United States, Canada, India and Australia. Training at the Jakarta Founder Institute, due to start in October, is open to anyone interested in the country’s tech industry. Applicants only need to pass the institute’s Predictive Admissions Test, at a cost of $50. The entrance exam tests applicants’ entrepreneurial personality traits and problem-solving abilities. “We basically believe that the success of a start-up depends on the founder’s personality,” said Andy Zain, one of the founding members of the Jakarta branch and the founder of Numedia, a local platform developer for mobile devices. Andy said the challenges facing developing Indonesia’s tech industry were not due a lack of start-ups. “What we actually need is a finish-up,” he said. He added that getting start-ups off the ground and on their way to the finish line was exactly what the Founder Institute aimed to do. Launched in 2009, the program has been described as “a start-up accelerator and entrepreneur training program that focuses on grooming entrepreneurs into CEOs.” The institute’s slogan is “Globalizing Silicon Valley.” The program is taught and supported by an international network of mentors who are leaders in the tech industry, including Aaron Patzer, founder and chief executive of Mint.com; Jason Calacanis, chief executive of Mahalo.com; and Michael Arrington, founder and co-editor of tech news portal TechCrunch. The Jakarta Founder Institute is backed by some of Indonesia’s most prominent tech entrepreneurs. These include Andi S. Boediman, founder of Ideosource, an incubator for tech start-ups; Izak Jenie, who founded Jatis, an IT solutions provider; Didi Nugrahadi, co-founder of news portal Detik.com; and Steven Goh, founder of social networking platform Mig33. The driving forces behind the creation of the Jakarta branch of the institute were Novistiar Rustandi, an entrepreneur and manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Sanny Gaddafi, the founder of several local tech start-ups. Now serving as the directors of the Jakarta branch, both are alumni of the institute’s first program in Silicon Valley. Through the testing process, the institute will pick 25 to 50 students to join the four-month course. The curriculum will be created via crowd-sourcing through the institute’s network of 15,000 chief executives worldwide. Evening classes will be held once a week, during which students will be taught about how to develop an idea, put together a business plan, set up a company and advertise their product. They will also be assigned weekly business-building projects. Each session, students will be asked to present their ideas in front of the class, which will be asked to give constructive criticism and comments. Very often, Novistiar said, students find it difficult when they feel that the other students are attacking their idea. Some even quit the class he attended in the Silicon Valley and never came back. Those who quit the program are rarely admitted back into the institute. Novistiar said each class was designed to challenge students in order to prepare them for the market. The institute is confident in its ability to successfully train new entrepreneurs. It has helped launch more than 300 companies in 15 countries so far. “Basically, we want our students to be able to run their own start-up right after they graduate from the institute,” said Andy, from Numedia. The tuition for the entire program is currently set at $900, but Andy said they were looking at ways to trim costs for students. “We are not looking to make money — the fee is only to cover operational costs, like catering and supplies, and also to invite mentors to come over, so it should be cheaper to run [in Jakarta],” he said. Start-up owners who are unable to find funding after they graduate will be eligible to go back to the institute for free. Graduates who do receive funding are required to give 3.5 percent of company equity to the institute. Andy gave journalists at a press conference last Wednesday a sneak peek into the kinds of things that students will learn, presenting an example from the program’s “pitch boot camp.” He presented different types of business pitches that the entrepreneurs needed to master. One was the elevator pitch — a quick run-down requiring entrepreneurs to effectively describe what their company does in less than a minute. “You have to imagine explaining your business to your in-laws, who may find tech jargon confusing,” Andy said. He suggested that entrepreneurs avoid buzzwords, such as “mobile,” “application” and “social media” in their pitches and be specific about functions. Jaka Wira, founder of Valadoo, a company that makes mobile phone applications for travelers, said he was very excited about the tips that Andy offered during the press conference. Jaka said he would definitely be taking the entrance exam to join the program. “If accepted, I would very much like to join,” he said. Joining the institute means not only getting to learn from both regional and global mentors in the tech industry, but also getting to network with potential partners and investors from all over the globe, he said. In the end, that kind of training, support and visibility may be exactly what Indonesia’s tech industry needs to go to the next level and live up to its perceived potential. Jakarta Founder Institute www.founderinstitute.com www.jktfi.com Twitter: @JKTfi E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Source: The Jakarta Globe
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