As participants in Nexticorn 2018, we get to learn more from founders William Susilo and Herry Budiman about Gorry Holdings, an integrated data-driven nutrition solution and lifestyle guidance company that now has two products: GorryWell and Gorry Gourmet, which provide clinical meal subscriptions. As the first online clinical meal provider in Indonesia, they generously shared their knowledge as well as the challenges that they are currently facing as a growing start-up.
Funding and managing funds
We see funding as pivotal for start-ups across stages. From seeding to later funding rounds, investors’ funds are a start-up’s engine fuel for creating traction. Finding the right investors comes with its own challenges. Conveying how our products are a good fit for what the market needs, our business model, traction, capitalisation tables, the technology verticals we are in, and the fund size we are raising are key to finding the right potential investors to initiate discussions with.
Venture capitalists are not the only source of funding. Depending on each start-up profile and the maturity level, private equity (PE) firms, family offices, and corporates as strategic investors can all be viable options too for more-mature start-ups. Individual angel investors can also be a good alternative for pre-seeding or seeding rounds. In fact, we just closed a deal with a Singapore-based PE firm.
Fund allocation and the length of runway that funds can provide the start-up with are always pre-defined when we do fund raising, especially for those who still have a burn rate (negative cashflow). Cash is king: the longer the runway that the funds can provide, the greater the chance a start-up might have to succeed even after going through multiple pivoting due to failure.
In hiring strategy, combining home-grown talent versus hiring experienced talent is always wise to consider. Home-grown talent might be more affordable, but it takes longer to develop, while experienced talent might be readier to achieve certain milestones with lower learning costs—but usually come with higher price tag. We are combing this approach by defining a robust and efficient organisational structure in advance. We encourage knowledge transfer from experienced hires to our home-grown team, so we can build efficiency. Last year, we were a team of fortyish; now we are a team of fiftyish, but with double the revenue.
Apart from that, what is more important is to know what quality and personal value we are looking for for a specific position. Qualified talent might not always be the best candidates to hire, especially in cases where a company’s vision does not resonate well with their own personal values and beliefs. In some cases, industry background is not always the key decision factor in hiring someone, although we realise that it is not ignorable.
Innovation and agility are both in our blood. We cherish innovation and collaboration; less bureaucracy and boundaries and absence of age gap. We also spread ikigai value to all team members, which manifests in all of us working professionally on what we love and becoming good at what the world needs. This makes us keen to put users first while always innovating for better services.
One of the reasons start-ups fail is an imbalance in planning and execution priority. Yes, we are required to grow very quickly, but we cannot ignore planning. What works best for us is to not hesitate in spending more time on planning, but to be very fast in executions later on. Planning does not always take days or weeks or months to prepare since it can be also in form of quick wins that create quick impact with minimum amount of cost.
When it comes to execution, monitoring cannot be absent. In most cases, multiple initiatives run in parallel; hence, sufficient project management functions or project monitoring tools need to be in place.
We see competition as a healthy component in pushing us to be another better version of ourselves. Authenticity when it comes to vision and growth execution can be a key component here in becoming a survivor or even a market leader. In our case, for example, we position ourselves as a health technology company, not as an online healthy F&B venture. Through the Gorry Gourmet and GorryWell apps, we combine big health data with nutritional services and cloud kitchen models. We are proud to be the number-one online clinical meal provider and will become the pioneer of AI-based nutritional solutions in Indonesia. With such a vision, we never see restaurants and fellow online F&B delivery platforms as competition despite our brand. In fact, we are keen to embrace existing and potential collaborations with them.
Aside from the competition dynamic itself, what needs to be re-evaluated is potential collaboration first. In some cases, what looks like competition might be a potential collaboration when viewed from a different angle. We are in the era of the sharing economy; maintaining this type of mindset can potentially result in a better win-win solution for everybody. In the future, we will never know if there is any possibility of market consolidation.
Technology start-ups are always looking for loyal users. Good engagement with users over a long period of time is key to justify the investments. We are not flawless, but we always have the spirit of improving our service and the user experience continuously throughout the website and mobile apps all the way down to food delivery and health goal monitoring. This is the reason why we can achieve user stickiness. We always convey the message to our users that we are here not to sell, but to provide reliable services. We grow our reputation in line with a larger number of customers who trust us to serve their needs.
Regulation plays a significant role in a start-up dynamic, especially when it deals with incumbents. In our case, healthcare regulation is the part that we need to be very familiar with. We have to understand the boundaries and proactively come up with solutions that can work with all stakeholders, including hospitals and med-lab institutes, while giving the best possible service to our users efficiently.
As the world of start-ups is so dynamic, we have to understand our customers’ needs and pain points from multiple angles, including what the competition landscape looks like. Market intelligence is key to deciding whether it is the right timing for any strategic manoeuvre. On top of that, investing in market intelligence is worthwhile to identify white space way earlier than others.
William Susilo Yunior (Co-founder and Chairman of Gorry Holdings)
Herry Budiman (Co-founder and CEO of Gorry Holdings)