Aksara Ventures: Backing the Bold
Today’s guest is all the way from Jakarta, Indonesia.
Despite the geographical proximity, Indonesian startups are not household names here in Australia. However, with a population of 270 million and a rapidly growing digital economy, Indonesia appears to have plenty of investment opportunities for those willing to get their hands dirty.
As of the time of writing, these are the startup unicorns in Indonesia:
- $US18bn: GoTo (May 2021 merger between ride-hailing giant Gojek and e-commerce platform Tokopedia)
- $US6bn: Bukalapak (an online marketplace to enable small and medium enterprises to go online)
- $US3bn: Traveloka (an online airline ticketing and hotel booking service)
- $US2bn: OVO (a digital payment service / e-wallet)
- $US1bn: JD.id (a subsidiary of Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com that operates an e-commerce platform in Indonesia)
- $US1bn: Ajaib (an online platform for trading stocks; most recent unicorn)
About Jason & Aksara Ventures
Aksara Ventures is on a mission to discover startups with the potential to change the way we function in the future. They look to back the bold ideas and resolute operators at the edge of breaking out. They will be looking to back these startups at the post-product stage until the Series A stage.
Jason Pard is a partner and co-founder at Aksara Ventures. He was previously an Analyst at Venture Capital firm Monk’s Hill Ventures and had prior experience as a Product Manager at Gojek and other startups. He graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.
See more here: https://www.aksara.vc/
On the Episode
During my time in Taiwan, I met Jason at an Appworks Startup Accelerator event. I was interested in his career background as I knew very little about the Indonesia startup ecosystem (not much has changed).
However, Jason was the first podcast guest I reached out to after my hiatus in 2021 and I’m glad he was more than willing to come on. In this episode, I hope you learn something about Jason, Aksara Ventures or the Indonesian VC & startup scene.
Topics and timestamps as follows:
- 0:00 – Introduction
- 0:56 – Jason’s intro, why he came back to Indonesia from the US and some thoughts on how hard it is to find jobs as an international student
- 4:20 – How Jason got into VC, his career journey at Gojek, local Indonesian vs overseas graduates
- 7:50 – Why Jason started his own Venture Capital firm (Aksara Ventures), what does Aksara mean, what is their point of differentiation?
- 15:20 – Why Indonesia as a place to invest? What are the opportunities and barriers?
- 19:20 – How does Jason find startups to invest in? The value of good karma, investing in the team vs numbers
- 24:40 – which countries in Southeast Asia is Jason interested in? Which startups & sectors is he excited about?
- 28:10 – Is Jason worried about the current market cycle? (low interest rates, increased competition)
- 31:10 – are young Indonesians getting into entrepreneurship? Issues around income inequality
- 34:48 – can SE Asian startups go global outside of their own region? Are many foreigners coming to Indonesia to work in tech?
- 39:20 – thoughts around NFTs, crypto & gaming
- 43:45 – how to get into the Venture Capital industry? What traits make a good VC investor vs associate/analyst? How to contact Jason