Wesley Harjono is the Chief Finance Officer for Gan Capital, an advisory firm that focuses on three industries—renewable energy, infrastructure, and investment. Gan Capital has formed a partnership with Silicon Valley-based start-up accelerator Plug and Play. As a partner, Wesley also sits as the President Director of Plug and Play Indonesia which has started to build its local portfolio.
Why was President Jokowi interested in bringing Plug and Play to Indonesia?
President Jokowi was our catalyst. The president visited many companies, including Google and Twitter, during his visit to Silicon Valley in 2016. When he stopped by Plug and Play, he realised that we are a sort of a Silicon Valley in a box because we support critical processes in start-ups.
How did Gan Capital end up partnering up with Plug and Play?
We approached Plug and Play and they agreed to work with us. Plug and Play’s business model is a consortium; hence, they would like to collaborate with hundreds of corporate partners. Before I partnered with Plug and Play, I had been personally approached by people requesting investments. I used to agree immediately to ideas I thought were good, but it turned out that good ideas are not necessarily good investments.
Plug and Play, on the other hand, has been in the industry for 10 years so they are experts in finding suitable start-ups to invest in.
What is the difference between Plug and Play and other accelerators?
There are many accelerators, but not all of them work with hundreds of venture capitalists like we do. Additionally, other accelerators release start-ups after the acceleration stage. However, we use the consortium business model in Plug and Play, and so we work together with corporate partners and venture capitalists to further catapult start-ups into a wider network. It is a win-win solution because investors have a bigger opportunity to make gains.
Did Plug and Play executives from Silicon Valley come to Indonesia?
Yes. We received hundreds of applications, which we shortlisted to 50 start-ups. After that, Plug and Play executives from Silicon Valley came by and help us shortlist further. They attended the demo day as well, alongside our corporate partners, fellow venture capitalist, and other investors.
Do accelerators compete with each other?
I don’t see it that way. We believe that we are now in the era of collaboration. That is one of the reasons why I want this office to be a co-working space. I want to see creative people gather together to collaborate and create something innovative. I would actually love to meet other accelerator directors and ask them about collaborating as I believe that should be the whole point of the ecosystem.
As the president director of this accelerator, what are the challenges you face?
Since we are using the consortium model, it is really hard to get more corporate partners. Most big corporations want to keep products and technologies to themselves, especially if they feel that they have resources to build similar technologies. Our challenge is in convincing corporate investors that the world is going digital and that the consortium model is better than going out on their own. We have to convince them to build this ecosystem together.
Look forward to our second interview talking about Indonesian startups!