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A Journey in Developing a Successful Startup Company


Have you ever considered starting your own business? When it comes to startups, you must recognize Tokopedia, the pioneering online marketplace that has earned the status of a unicorn. The company with the green bird logo has grown to become Indonesia’s largest e-commerce enterprise.

Tokopedia, which was founded in 2009, was not immediately successful. Only in 2014 did the general public become aware of this online marketplace app.

Of course, the founder, William Tanuwijaya, is behind the great name of Tokopedia. He received a number of major accolades as a result of his accomplishment in developing this unicorn company. For instance, Ernst & Young named him Entrepreneur of the Year in 2019.

Tokopedia can enjoy revenues worth hundreds of trillions of rupiah per month due to his hard work. Not only that, but by launching this application in a number of other countries, William has been able to raise Indonesia’s profile in the international stage.

His success in pioneering e-commerce applications was not always straightforward, and investors were skeptical of him even at the start of his venture. Let’s read how Tokopedia’s CEO built a company from the ground up in the article below.

Career Journey of William Tanuwijaya

William, who was born in 1981, has had a difficult time establishing himself as the CEO and Founder of Tokopedia. He and his family lived in West Sumatra’s Pematang Siantar.

1. Moving to Jakarta Alone

His father encouraged him to pursue his study in Jakarta after high school. Despite coming from a low-income background, William’s parents were very concerned about his education. They desired for William to receive a better education in order for him to have a better life. William studied at Bina Nusantara University, which was his first experience outside of North Sumatra.

2. Working at an Internet Cafe

Unfortunately, his father became ill during his studies in Jakarta, and he was unable to pay for them. However, William decided to work at an internet cafe to pay for his expenses.

The internet was still a novelty at the time, and the internet cafe industry was booming. From 9 p.m. to 9 a.m., he worked. In the afternoon, he attended classes. His interest in the internet intensified during this time. He utilized his 12 hours of internet connection to learn everything there is to know about the internet.

3. Working in the IT Industry

After graduating from college in 2003, William worked at a number of technological companies before deciding to launch his own company. TelkomSigma and Sqiva System were two of them. He had also become a game developer at MayNet.

Later, he worked at Indocom Mediatama as an IT and Business Development Manager. This is where the concept for an internet-based business was born.

4. Building Tokopedia

In 2007, he asked Leontinus Alpha Edison, a coworker, to design an application that would allow individuals to sell and buy products. Sadly, their business had halted at the time due to a lack of funds.

This, however, did not dampen William’s desire to pursue his dream of developing e-commerce applications. After two years of development, Tokopedia was finally launched to the general public in 2009. Gradually, thanks to his perseverance and business strategies, Tokopedia began to be heard across the country and even around the world in 2014.

Bitter Experience in Founding Tokopedia

It is undeniably difficult to launch a business. This is how William felt when he first set out to establish Tokopedia. His journey was marred by a number of stressful experiences.

1. No Investors

William attempted to attract local investors when Tokopedia was first established. His efforts, however, did not proceed as planned. He must continue to swallow the bitter pill of potential investor rejection.

The potential investors turned down William because of his substandard family background. Because William is not a graduate of a prestigious university, many people underestimate his ability.

2. Not Being Fluent in English

William got the chance to meet potential investors from the United States in Jakarta in 2010. However, after only 5 minutes of presenting his idea, he was quickly dismissed due to his poor English skills.

3. No Job Applicants

William attempted to join a job expo in order to attract more workers for his start-up company. However, no one was interested in working for him at that time. He often remembers how he saw long lines of job applications at other company’s booths, but no one was interested in his.

The Turning Point to Success

In 2013, William’s long and arduous path paid off. SoftBank Korea, based in Japan, had invited him at the time. He was given five minutes to pitch his company. Unlike his traumatic experience in Jakarta, however, this time the investor approved Tokopedia’s funding.

As a result, Tokopedia received a $100 million investment in 2014, equivalent to IDR1.2 trillion. This was the point at which William’s career took a turn for the better. A number of well-known investors came to the company’s aid. Tokopedia received $1.1 billion in finance from Alibaba Group in 2017, which is equivalent to IDR14.7 trillion.

His name has become well-known as a result of his success in founding Tokopedia. He frequently speaks on behalf of Indonesia in international forums. He was one of the keynote speakers at the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders event in 2016.

That is a brief summary of Tokopedia’s founder’s journey from nothing to one of Asia’s top unicorns. With his painful experience, William demonstrated that business success is not always instantaneous and runs smoothly. To keep the company growing, you’ll need a lot of commitment and hard work. 

William also showed that you don’t have to come from old money to be a successful businessman. We learn from William to keep trying despite the family’s financial constraints. He did not come from a wealthy family, but his energy and ideas are sufficient to allow him to start a business and continue to develop Tokopedia.

Those of you who desire to follow in William Tanuwijaya’s footsteps must have a strong unrelenting spirit as well. Furthermore, continuing to learn and improving the quality of the business is critical.

Read also: Peluang Bisnis yang Menjanjikan di 2021

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