Steven Wongsoredjo chose a path and market that everyone else has been overlooking. A $200 billion market that he has already been making great headway in.
On the Dealmakers Show, Wongsoredjo talked about becoming the third company from Indonesia to be accepted into the startup accelerator, YCombinator, social capital effects, picking an offline marketing approach first, and fundraising.
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Finding Your Calling In Your Childhood
Steven Wongsoredjo developed quite an international and multicultural background from a young age.
He was born in Frankfurt, Germany, where his father was an engineer, and studied. After his parents married there, and had him, they sent him back to be raised by his grandmother in Indonesia for the first two years of his life.
When his parents returned, they raised him in the capital city of Jakarta, until he was 17 years old. After this, he took up the adventure to go to college and study in the US.
His family ended up getting into the retail business. Steven would travel with his father as they visited secondary cities and rural areas for business.
What really struck him was the great disparity in consumer prices. Seeing that while the economic output and incomes may have been much lower in many of these areas, prices for basic goods could be 20 to 200x higher than for those living in the capital city, who earned more money.
As a teenager, he saw this as his calling in life and vowed he would go back to help these people.
Even before he launched his company, he was going back to help. However, he knew that he needed to find a way to do it at a larger scale, and in a way that could be sustained.
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Finding A Huge Opportunity
As Wongsoredjo looked into this from a business perspective, he found it was a huge $200B total addressable market (TAM). One which remained relatively untouched by anyone else.
First of all, anyone that cared about expanding into Indonesia with big eCommerce businesses, like Amazon, would focus only on the capital of Jakarta. Everything else was neglected.
International eCommerce juggernauts were also hampered by their size and distance, and lack of understanding of the culture.
When they tried to do something here, they paid enormous amounts for coordinating and navigating the international and local supply chain, between trying to bring in big overseas brands and get them delivered on the ground.
Then these big retailers that did make any progress online were barely scratching 5% to 10% of the offline retail market.
Then he made a connection that encouraged him to apply to the California-based startup accelerator, YCombinator.
Even though he was late applying for their current cohort, he got everything together, and made the 30-hour flight out, for the 10-minute interview.
They became only the third startup ever to be accepted from Indonesia.
During the program, he says he learned a lot about building products, building the company right, and more.
However, the one flaw may have been being in that Silicon Valley bubble. Where they forgot about adapting and modifying their product and interface for their local market. One which is dramatically different in terms of culture, and consumer behavior.
A place where even though internet penetration may be at 80%, only 5% of retail transactions were happening online.
Go To Market Strategy & Product Market Fit: Going Offline First
Today, Steven’s app Super has raised $106M from investors and is serving this incredible need, with a tremendous head start over anyone else eyeing this space.
Storytelling is everything which is something that Steven Wongsoredjo was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here), where the most critical slides are highlighted.
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They’ve developed great logistics and supply chain partners, and have been acquiring private-label products in the fast-moving consumer goods and cosmetics space.
All with great unit economics, CAC as low as $1, with a return in one month and an 80% customer retention rate.
However, they only achieved this by doing things differently. Instead of going very broad, going after the most competitive markets, or starting online first, they began offline. A trend we may well see a lot more of in the near future.
They began by building relationships in local communities and engaging people in real life on the ground. Then educating them, building trust, and spurring momentum through social proof and circles. Then bringing them online.
Steven’s Take On Entrepreneurship
Today, his top advice for others thinking about launching their own businesses is not to make assumptions. Instead, talk to your users. Build a very simple product that has a product market fit. Don’t worry about fancy features or AI.
Then make sure this is something that you are so passionate about that you will happily love doing it for the next 30 to 50 years.
Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:
- Connecting with your investors two years before you pitch them for money
- Fundraising as a stepping stone, not a milestone
- The fundraising ladder
- How Super is helping people in Indonesia