Founders' Story: Let's Talkabot Distra's Journey
Posted on July 03, 2019 by Fei Yun
BLOCK71 x Talkabot.id
Interview with Distra Vantari, CEO and Founder
In this particular series of the Founder’s Story, BLOCK71 Bandung had an interesting chat with Distra Vantari, the CEO and founder of Talkabot.id. Talkabot.id, as the name suggests, is a chatbot platform that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to engage with clients. Besides its ability to serve thousands of clients at once, the Talkabot.id chat platform allows for human take-over features and contains a customizable inventory management system. This aspect of the chat platform is revolutionary as it allows users to design their own way of communication with their clients.
Distra’s inspiration to create Talkabot.id stems from his personal experience with his friends who often create their own brands and promote their products on social media like Facebook and Instagram. He realized that while people can successfully promote goods online using e-commerce, it is challenging for them to engage effectively with their clients as their brands grow. Often, these expanding brands find themselves in situations where they are unable to cope with an overwhelming influx of queries from their clients. This perennial problem then sparked the idea for Distra to combine AI and the chatbot platform to create Talkabot.id.
Like many other businesses, the founder and CEO of Talkabot.id have concrete plans for further expansion. When asked about the goals for Talkabot.id, Distra replied confidently ‘by the end of this year, I want to be able to reach about 500 brands’. Beyond his business goals, one of Distra’s personal goals is also to transform the skeptical mindsets of Indonesian brands towards technology. At present, many Indonesian brands are reluctant to incorporate technology as part of their operations as there is a misconception that it would be a hindrance to their businesses. Distra hopes that with his chatbot system, brands will start to understand that technology can benefit their operations immensely.
Despite Talkabot.id’s stable progress now, the journey has not always been smooth for Distra and the Talkabot.id team. When asked about his journey of creating Talkabot.id, Distra described the journey as ‘fun and hard at the same time’. In fact, the hardest part of Distra’s journey happened just last year in December when the company incurred a debt of over IDR 200 million. The company almost stopped all operations. Despite almost giving up and going back to an office job, Distra persevered and found a way to bounce back into the business. His strategy lies in proper job designation and selecting the right people for the job. While the Talkabot.id founder focused his energy on fundraising, he entrusted the operations and sales component to the rest of his team. The company also restructures fast to avoid making mistakes. Today, Talkabot.id has continuously received funding twice in a row from Kemenristekdikti, an accomplishment that not many start-ups can claim.
Distra takes his motivation in his entrepreneurial journey from the most game-changing businesses in Indonesia, including Go-Jek, Bukalapak, and Tokopedia. He hopes that with Talkabot.id, he can make a similar impact on the Indonesian landscape like his predecessors. His desire to create a product that can make a positive impact on society was also one of the reasons why Distra persevered through the company’s lowest phase.
Finally, Distra leaves budding entrepreneurs with 2 main advice to avoid pitfalls:
Always think of the ‘why’ when you create your product
Don’t make assumptions without validating it!
Cliche as it sounds, but when creating a product, it is important to constantly remind yourself why you started out in the first place, instead of focusing on the profits. It’s ok to make assumptions too, but market validation is crucial to test the amount of truth in those assumptions.
Find Talkabot.id on Instagram: @talkabot.id
Founders' Story: Mycotech's Vision of Sustainability
Posted on July 17, 2019 by Fei Yun
BLOCK71 x Mycotech
Interview with Adi Reza, CEO and Co-founder
BLOCK71 Bandung brings back our second feature of the Founder’s Story! In this story, we follow Adi Reza, CEO and Co-founder of Mycotech as he brings us along his journey of creating a more sustainable vision of the world by harnessing mushrooms. Mycotech started out in 2012 when the team discovered the potential of mushrooms in creating eco-friendly materials in a humble kitchen. Since then, Mycotech’s access to production labs has expanded across the globe.
The motivation to establish Mycotech comes from Adi and the Mycotech’s team love for the environment, as well as concern over the sustainability of producing leather. Cow-based leather production is unsustainable in terms of production and procession as the chemical treatment can heavily pollute water bodies if not done properly. In addition, Adi added that rearing cows make up the third largest contributor of global emissions. This calls for a new solution for leather replacement that is not only sustainable, but also affordable. And this is exactly what Mycotech is about - creating bio-based materials that can positively impact the environment.
Besides the environmental aspect, Mycotech has also been making social change by empowering mushroom farmers. The CEO and founder of Mycotech highlights that there are as much as 43,000 mushroom farmers across Indonesia. By partnering up with these farmers to obtain their initial materials, Mycotech not only provides them with additional income, the company itself also saves on investment cost.
The journey of Mycotech has been an extremely interesting one. It is also an unexpected story of discovery and learning. Mycotech started out as a food gourmet company that sells mushrooms as snacks. However, with the discovery of mycelium technology, the co-founders decided to save the profits from the gourmet business and invest them into research. A year of testing in Adi’s mom’s pantry did not work out as smoothly as they had planned. However, like many successful entrepreneurs, Adi and team learnt from their mistakes fast. Access to international labs, as well as joint research projects helped greatly in expediting the technology improvement process.
When asked about his biggest inspiration, Adi pointed to his wife as the biggest influence in his care for sustainability. Her eco-consciousness encouraged Adi and the Mycotech team to solve environmental problems using technology. Seeing his clients share the same vision of wanting to make a positive environmental impact is also a huge source of motivation for him.
Now, Mycotech’s technology is spreading quickly across the region. Just recently, Mycotech exhibited at the SG Innovfest Unbound 2019, where more than 100+ startups, brands, entrepreneurs, investors and corporates met for an exchange of ideas. As Mycotech propels onto the global platform, BLOCK71 is excited to follow their journey ahead.
Find Mycotech on Instagram at: @mycotech
Singapore Airlines AppChallenge 2019 comes to Bandung!
Posted on August 01, 2019 by Fei Yun
On 24 July 2019, BLOCK71 Bandung hosted Singapore Airlines’s (SIA) AppChallenge 2019 roadshow! This is the first time SIA is holding their roadshow in Bandung after last year’s great turnout and response in our BLOCK71 Jakarta location. The event attracted around 60 attendees, ranging from university students to working adults.
Singapore Airlines, the national carrier of Singapore, is consistently ranked as one of the best airlines in the world. In an effort to further enhance its customer experience, KrisLab, SIA’s digital innovation arm, is holding the SIA AppChallenge for the fifth year running.
The challenge aims to gather innovative solutions to transform the conventional airline travel experience. Participants can choose one of the six challenge statements ranging from customer experience to travel ecosystem sustainability to work on.
The six challenge statements from four categories in this year’s AppChallenge includes:
Customer experience: On-Ground
Customer experience: Passenger Lounge
Customer experience: Passenger In-Flight
Travel Ecosystem: KrisShop
Engineering: Aircraft maintenance,
Sustainability: Resource management
(For each of the above, there is a video and infobrief detailing what participants need to know. Visit their official website for more).
Selected teams will have the opportunity to be paired with an experienced industry mentor to enhance their prototype and stand to win up to SGD12,000 in cash prize! In addition, challengers may gain access to networking opportunities with renowned brands in the aviation industry. Solutions with business potential will also be offered a proof of concept collaboration of up to SGD150K.
The event included a panel discussion, featuring Mr Wilson Wong (Digital Innovation Lab Lead, Singapore Airlines), Mr Indra Gunawan (CEO & Founder, Bobobox), and Mr Dwi Pradito Widjayanto (CEO & Founder, Koperansel). The panellists shared about delivering excellent customer experience in the travel industry.
“Be obsessed with our customers”. That was Mr Gunawan’s advice to budding entrepreneurs and startups developing digital solutions in the travel space. The CEO & Founder of Bobobox, stressed the importance of being sensitive to consumers’ needs. With the prevalence of social media, it takes just one bad customer experience to bring a company back to square one.
Mr Widjayanto, CEO and Founder of Koperansel, encouraged participants to focus on creating a single excellent product before aiming to diversify.
Turning the lens on the corporate perspective, Mr Wong also addressed common misconceptions about participating in hackathons organized by corporations. He reassured the event attendees that SIA would allow each team to retain IP rights to their solutions for this challenge.
Ms Dalis Chan, an NUS Overseas College (NOC) student showed her enthusiasm for this challenge specifically on enhancing the In-flight Entertainment experience. Mr Bintang, a student from Institut Teknologi Nasional, also expressed his interest in the Customer Experience: In-Ground Challenge Statement. He added, “For me, the concept of open innovation is very interesting. Hopefully, in the future more events like this can accommodate and incubate people who want to create start-ups”.
Key dates to note for the SIA AppChallenge:
23 August 2019: Submission deadline
2 - 12 September 2019: Semi-finals
18 October 2019: Finals
Seize the opportunity to work with SIA, the world’s leading airline - whether you’re a startup or student! Visit https://appchallenge.singaporeair.com/en/challenges/appchallenge-2019, to find out more about the SIA AppChallenge 2019 and participate!
Startup Showcase x KopiChat: The Entrepreneurial Journey
Posted on August 01, 2019 by Fei Yun
BLOCK71 Bandung launches it very first Startup Showcase! University students from all around Bandung were invited to attend this event. The Bandung Startup Showcase aims to introduce undergraduates to the startup ecosystem and inspire students to pursue their startup dreams. Featuring BLOCK71’s signature event, the Kopichat, founders and CEOs from 4 startups shared useful and interesting insights about their experiences. Approximately 40 students attended the event and got the chance to network with the startup founders.
In this series, Mr Alvin Junianto Lan from EcoMatcher, Mr Distra Vantari from Talkabot, Mr Gerryadi Agusta from KAABA, and Mr Hendra Araji from Everidea shared their entrepreneurial journey in an honest conversation. Ranging from the sustainability to virtual reality, the attendees got the chance to delve deeper into the challenges and joys of working in a startup across different industries. As the event came to a close, enthusiastic students lingered behind to networking with the 4 startup founders.
We hope that this has been a fruitful and inspiring session for everyone!
Supporting entrepreneurial journeys in Jakarta and beyond.
BLOCK71 Jakarta is an exciting partnership between Singapore's most established higher learning institution, the National University of Singapore, and one of Indonesia's most iconic conglomerates, the Salim Group.
Connect with us at block71.co/jakarta.