Immediately, William Tanuwijaya is a formidable pressure.

As CEO of e-commerce website Tokopedia, the 39-year-old is one-quarter of the management of the newly- merged GoTo Group — Indonesia’s most valuable technology company.

However his enterprise might by no means have come to be if it weren’t for his dedication within the face of critics.

“Tokopedia’s story virtually ended earlier than we even began,” Tanuwijaya informed CNBC Make It.

Impressed by U.S. icons

Tanuwijaya was simply in his early 20s when he set out on a mission to “democratize e-commerce” by creating a web site for Indonesia’s thousands and thousands of small enterprise homeowners to promote their items on-line.

It was then the mid-2000s and the web was taking off within the nation. However with no established tech business or native position fashions to study from, Tanuwijaya needed to look to the greats.

I don’t come from the Ivy League … I all the time think about myself a graduate from web cafe.

William Tanuwijaya

co-founder and CEO, Tokopedia

“We do not have a hit story like Mark Zuckerberg or Sergey Brin, Steve Jobs or Jack Ma. There was no such story of entrepreneurs from Indonesia constructing know-how firms throughout that point,” he stated.

Impressed by their tales, Tanuwijaya knew he — like them — must elevate non-public funding to get his thought off the bottom. However as a younger Indonesian from a rural background and humble beginnings, he quickly realized he did not match the mould.

William Tanuwijaya, co-founder and CEO of Tokopedia, a part of Indonesian tech large GoTo.


“They’d ask about my private background … which college I studied at,” Tanuwijaya stated, recalling his conversations with traders.

“I don’t come from the Ivy League,” stated Tanuwijaya, who studied at Binus College in Jakarta whereas working evening shifts in an web cafe to assist his household. “I all the time think about myself a graduate from web cafe.”

Then they’d ask him in regards to the wider market alternative.

“They’d ask me, William, are you able to title one one who has been profitable in Indonesia as a result of they’re constructing a know-how firm or web enterprise?” he stated.

‘Your entire position fashions, these Silicon Valley founders, they’re born particular, you aren’t.’

William Tanuwijaya

co-founder and CEO, Tokopedia

Regardless of being residence to the world’s fourth-largest inhabitants and a quickly rising center class, traders have been uncertain of Indonesia’s potential or if he was the person to comprehend it.

“Your thought may be very easy,” he recalled them saying. “You wish to construct the Amazon of Indonesia or the Alibaba of Indonesia. What about when all these international giants come to the market? They’ve the know-how, they’ve the capital, they’ve the know-how, they’ve the sources that you simply shouldn’t have. How are you going to compete?”

Adopting the American dream

Then got here the day when he met with one non-public investor who modified his life ceaselessly.

“He stated: William, your whole position fashions, these Silicon Valley founders, they’re born particular, you aren’t,” Tanuwijaya recalled. “Please cease daydreaming; discover one thing extra sensible to do.”

For Tanuwijaya, it was the catalyst he wanted.

“That’s the day when I discovered the aim of my life as a result of I spotted the explanation I needed to construct Tokopedia is to construct belief amongst strangers to have the ability to begin enterprise wherever,” he stated.

Indonesia really has an Indonesian dream idea … ‘Dream as excessive because the sky. In the event you fall, you fall amongst the celebs.’

William Tanuwijaya

co-founder and CEO, Tokopedia

Like his U.S. idols, whom he stated to embody the American dream of self-determination, Tanuwijaya stated he found a drive to be undiscouraged and assist different Indonesian enterprise homeowners.

“That day I remembered that Indonesia really has an Indonesian dream idea,” stated Tanuwijaya. “Our founding father, the primary president of the nation, as soon as stated … ‘Dream as excessive because the sky. In the event you fall, you fall amongst the celebs.'”

“I discover that is lovely and that is the Indonesian dream,” he stated. “So I made a decision that it doesn’t matter what occurs, I’ll attempt to construct Tokopedia.”

After launching Tokopedia in 2009, Tanuwijaya and his co-founder Leontinus Alpha Edison quickly secured seed funding from the Indonesian funding agency PT Indonusa Dwitama. It has since obtained buy-in from SoftBank, Sequoia Capital and Alibaba Group.

Greater than a decade on, underneath the GoTo Group, Tokopedia counts a community of greater than 11 million retailers and 100 million lively customers, who final 12 months contributed 1% to Indonesia’s $1.1 trillion gross home product.

Do not miss: How these millennial tech founders pulled off Indonesia’s biggest-ever business deal

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