Entrepreneurs and delegates from around the world gathered at the Indonesia Pavilion at the World Economic Forum 2019 earlier this year to get a deeper understanding of Indonesia’s technology scene and to meet the founder of one of Indonesia’s largest e-commerce giant – CEO and Co-founder of Tokopedia, William Tanuwijaya. During the workshop, William shared the success story behind Tokopedia as well as the challenges he’s faced.
The story of Tokopedia may seem like a fairytale in the start-up world, except it is a real one. The technology company has come a long way making rapid advances across the Indonesian archipelago since its inception in 2009.
Growing up, William had always envisioned a marketplace which allowed democratic access to daily commodities for people from all walks of life, something which was lacking in Indonesia then. With his strong background in IT, William was quick to capitalise on the rapid adoption of smartphones and bridge the digital divide with a secure e-commerce platform. Though Tokopedia was first conceived in 2007, William’s vision only became reality two years later, after the company received its first funding.
Fast-forward nine years later: the company grew into one of the biggest and trusted brands in Indonesian online shopping. It was a feat for any tech entrepreneur dreaming of breaking out in a conservative marketplace, considering the lack of support network for Indonesian start-ups in its early years.
He attributed Tokopedia’s success to its deep knowledge of Indonesia’s diverse culture and the rise in technology adoption across the archipelago. And although the company has emerged as a major force, it ultimately aims to develop its digital infrastructure and financial services to enable more local SMEs to drive financial inclusion in Indonesia.
Joining him was his esteemed colleague Patrick Cao, President of Tokopedia, who stressed the importance of showcasing the strength of Indonesian technology and ecosystem. With Indonesia being the fourth largest population in the world and close to being the fifth largest economy in the next decade, Patrick recognises that it is important for Tokopedia to support the Indonesian market through supportive government initiatives and world-class partnerships.
In all, Tokopedia is aware that it cannot fully realise its vision unless it continues to form meaningful partnerships alongside other international stakeholders. The unicorn strives to open doors to growth for the country and broaden Tokopedia’s reach to millions while improving day-to-day operational efficiencies.