Clever, witty, and undeniably fearless, Gita Sjahrir’s eyes burn with a passion for her craft. As the Co-Founder of RIDE Jakarta, the first boutique indoor cycling studio in Indonesia, this Schwinn-certified instructor is determined to catapult her boutique as a unicorn company. Pacing the pristine floors of the newly opened studio, assuming that Gita is busy would be taking the word lightly. After moving from SCBD to Plaza Indonesia, one would think that things would calm down for her team, but no such luck: this year, RIDE is opening several more branches, making an app, and raising even more funds.
Albeit raw and unscripted, Gita Sjahrir was ready to tackle any question thrown at her. What could one expect from daughter of the highly respected economist Dr Sjahrir and Dr Nurmala Kartini Sjahrir? The same brilliance that runs in her family was what led Gita to earn her MBA from the University of Pennsylvania. It was not long after her graduation that she discovered an indoor cycling studio and entertained the thought of marrying her business degree with her newfound love.
Nudged by her brother and mentor Pandu, Gita saw a market gap for boutique fitness studios in Indonesia and opened RIDE Jakarta in 2015. “When we started it was just me, three other friends, and my brother, who was especially supportive,” she reminisces, looking back at a time when she cleaned the toilets and the bikes while teaching the classes herself.
After three years, RIDE now stands tall and proud especially after scoring US$500,000 in seed money from Intudo Ventures in 2017—the first boutique fitness studio in Indonesia to be funded by the company. “I was rejected about 50 times before we got that funding, but if you think what I went through is hard, the Travelokas of the world experienced three times more rejections than me,” she shrugs. “It’s tough and it’s not for everybody: the concept of entrepreneurship is sexy until you do it.”
Their ability to take constructive criticism is what makes Gita and her team invincible. The most shocking and perhaps life-changing advice she got from these investors? Highlight your people. “Data is good, but at the end of the day these investors invest in people,” Gita recalls. The data-driven entrepreneur might take comfort in cold, hard facts, but she appreciates the art of people this business is teaching her about.
Even in her spare time, Gita’s thirst for learning doesn’t cease. Every day she will pick up a book and unlock knowledge and wisdom one would seldom find in day-to-day life. Recently, Lawrence Levy’s To Pixar and Beyond caught her attention, if only because of the mastermind behind the animation company. “Steve Jobs was incredible. How do you start a company and be fired from that company? That’s amazing,” she laughs. What some consider a predicament, she takes as a valuable lesson.
“Here’s the number-one question I have for budding entrepreneurs: what should you prepare for before meeting potential investors?” she muses. “Simple. They will ask you what your exit strategy is. Never look at your business and say: ‘I am always the best for it.’ If you create something, you have to let it grow, which might mean that you have to take a cue from Steve Jobs.”
Keeping an open mind and encouraging her colleagues to do the same, one can only wonder what Gita will take on next. On the top of her list is one special mission: to shift the nation’s view of fitness as a viable industry deserving of the same respect and recognition the nation gives other notable occupations. When such a fire burns in her eyes, we can safely say that if there’s anyone who can make that change, it will undoubtedly be her.
This story appears in the July 2018 issue of Indonesia Tatler. For the full story, grab the copy at your nearest newsstands, or subscribe here.