Unicorns rising in Indonesia

An Internet gold rush is afoot in Jakarta, with start-ups disrupting business and improving Indonesian lives. Singapore can help play a role in this transformation of Indonesia's digital economy.

Landing in Jakarta, I feel immediately the presence of Indonesian and regional technology giants. Online travel agent Traveloka's billboards greet visitors at the airport. As I head out, my cabby honks at the Go-Jek and Grab motorcyclists weaving in and out of traffic. The banners of online marketplaces Tokopedia, Bukalapak and Shopee line the streets, advertising generous cashbacks for the latest Samsung mobile phone. An Internet gold rush is happening in Jakarta, with start-ups raising millions of dollars in capital.

Mr Willson Cuaca, the managing partner of East Ventures, can be called Indonesia's "seed king" - seeding not of the agricultural but financial variety. He saw the start of this tech boom, writing the first cheques for several Indonesian unicorns and funding 70 per cent of all Indonesian Series A start-ups.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 09, 2018, with the headline 'Unicorns rising in Indonesia'. Subscribe