Hermawan Sutanto: Tomorrow, The Ladder Isn’t Always Up!

I was a typical generation x when joining the MBA program in 2008 to get myself ready to continue the token of leadership in the business of baby boomers generation. Fought well to be selected in the Microsoft’s Extra Potential program, I took an international assignment in the U.S. headquarter after completing my MBA journey.

Jumped to hardware industry to complete software-hardware competencies for IT industry by joining Intel Corporation, I kept climbing up the corporate ladder. I thought I was well prepared when the time and opportunity came: to be on the top of the ladder.

And the wave of e-commerce struck Indonesia in 2015. The rise of startups business transformed the traditional industry into something that both baby boomers and my generation had never seen before. Ride sharing was provided by Uber, Go-jek, Grab, while room and office sharings were served by AirBnb and coworking spaces. Suddenly, everyone was trading online as both seller and buyer in Tokopedia and Bukalapak for used and new items.

The secret recipe in doing business in a structured way paved by baby boomers and was (about to) be continued by my generation, was disrupted. The digital-savvy generation had a new way to capitalize internet to do business more efficient and scalable, and to discover a new niche of business that older generations could not even imagine. I was trapped in a disruptive world standing at the crossroads to choose: continue the corporate ladder or detour to join the startups hype?

Good news! The conventional businesses survived but demanded a change. A lot of today’s enterprises starts to invest in startups (eg. Astra invests in Go-Jek). Hence, paving path in corporate ladder has a bright future. For gen x leaders, today, and tomorrow, the ladder is not necessarily up!

I am now riding my wave on two startups: Bizzy.co.id for B2B and FrameATrip.com for B2C.

B2B arena is a blue ocean in Indonesia and region. A lot of funding was invested in B2C commerce and B2G; but not yet in B2B. The rave has an equal start and the mission of Bizzy.co.id is to bring clean economy utilizing technology to make B2B procurement transparent, efficient, and accountable. We are passionate to bring in e-Procurement technology to the market from procure to pay.

What’s next? As projected, Indonesia would have 141 million middle class affluent by 2020 who loved travelling and posting pictures in social media. Thanks to the millennials brought traveling to a new spending trend beyond e-commerce. Found that travel photography was still in the blue ocean, we established FrameATrip.com in the late 2016. We focus to connect travelers with the local professional photographers across 180+ cities around the globe to make their holiday unforgettable and get more likes in their instagram.

Will I succeed? Hopefully. Not afraid of failure? Of course, there is a risk. But if I fail, I will be one of the selected gen x talents with the best of the breed competencies: corporate athlete and real-life startup experience. More importantly, my ladders are not the only one. Not only up, but left and right too! From a game theory perspective learnt in BLEMBA 10 years ago, my end game probabilities are all good.

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