Daniel's careers and experiences across diverse media led him to lead OLX, the largest classified ads site in Indonesia. To align employees with different working years and skills to his new vision and approach, he blends them all repeatedly until everyone mix well. Hiring new talents and cutting underperformers are his strategies for the new revamp. Read more about Daniel's advice for the next generation.
Tell us about your diverse career background. Why OLX?
I follow the media's growth because everyone is influenced by it. Back in my college years in Bandung it was radio that moved people en masse instantly, almost like the Internet, so I joined Radio Oz. Then the medium changed to satellite TV and I was offered a job with RCTI as a freelancer while at college. I focused on the technology working behind the scenes and the future it held—this also happened at the newly hatched, sexy MTV.
The Internet and e-commerce came next, and I fell in love with them, so in 2000 I formed two start-ups. I believe that e-commerce is now a full-circle service since the “buy now” button appeared; before that, the Internet was just a noise. I've explored marketplace and online retail models: now it's time for classified ads.
Tell us more about your first start-up and the lessons you learned.
It was back in 2000 when I went around asking for funds, made and presented proposals, found investors, and so on. I didn't get that much funding and the investment was also low at 4 percent, so in the end it closed. This was a very profound experience—the debt from closing the company lasted for six years. Now it's young people's turn and I will be mentoring them.
How do you see these young people's potential?
In regards to building a start-up, sometimes they tend to be too naïve from reading success stories. The concept is too blown-up and rather confusing at times. It could go well if they do come from well-off families, but many do not and they don't know how to market their ideas.
Some young people come with money or with parents as sponsors and have high-quality goods and different kinds of ideas from travelling the world. They easily get money thanks to their parents' names, but without a solid business plan, they fail after a few short years. These types of people have left a bad impression in the start-up world even though their failures are due to their own lack of prudence.
What are your start-up tips for young entrepreneurs?
Be brave and try to realise your ideas—don't be too naïve, and find good mentors to help. Don’t be afraid of your own capabilities because you were born and grew up among all these gadgets and technological advances. We, the generation before, have to believe that the next generation has the solutions that have never been thought about before—it could be the next Uber or Airbnb. The older, more experienced people need to get their pure ideas and help perfect and execute them—no stealing ideas, because the young ones are the soul.
What plans do you have for OLX in the future?
We will focus on monetisation through mobile devices, which have been monetised a lot, and applications, which have not been monetised that much, other than in Facebook’s case. Some new features in our application are chatting between buyers and sellers, which runs anonymously and which only needs polishing and geo-tagging. All our products are tagged so buyers can see ads that are closest to their location.
Photo by Heri B. Heryanto
Another E-Commerce Masterclass that shares his tips on growing a start-up: E-Commerce Masterclass: Kevin Mintaraga of Bridestory.