Indonesian serial entrepreneur Natali Ardianto: driven to disrupt

Ardianto said his startup offers something new and will disrupt the Indonesian health tech industry.

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Indonesian serial entrepreneur Natali Ardianto: driven to disrupt

Natali Ardianto, a co-founder of Indonesian travel tech platform Tiket, is a familiar figure in Indonesia’s startup community. He has co-founded four startups and seen two of them get acquired by larger tech companies.

Tiket was acquired by Blibli in 2017 and is now part of Gojek’s ecosystem of digital services.

Now a seasoned serial entrepreneur, Ardianto’s latest plan is to conquer the Indonesian health tech sector. He won’t have trouble finding people who believe in his vision.

Ardianto has been active in the Indonesian startup community for over a decade, through a program called Startup Lokal and mentored many professionals, some of whom have gone on to run their own companies.

He launched his first company in 2008, a lifestyle city directory for Jakarta called Urbanesia which was one of the early players in the then-burgeoning digital scene. Although the startup ecosystem in Indonesia was still in its infancy, Urbanesia managed to attract a number of investors, including media giant Kompas who eventually acquired the site in 2012.

Ardianto already left Urbanesia in 2010 and started another project called Golfnesia, an online golf booking system targeting international golf-enthusiasts.

These early ventures taught Ardianto many things about building a tech-based business including the importance of product validation to ensure its scalability in the long run, he told KrASIA in a recent interview.

His career really took off when he and four friends started Tiket in 2011.

The platform was showing positive growth and was competing in a tight race with online travel unicorn Traveloka when it was fully acquired by e-commerce platform Blibli in June 2017. Ardianto described this as “a win-win decision for all”.

“The acquisition was a smart move as it was beneficial for both parties,” Ardianto said.

“We were proud because the acquisition proved that Tiket had a good business track record and the potential to be one of the largest online travel platforms in Indonesia.”

Six months after the acquisition, Ardianto decided to resign from his position as Tiket’s CTO to embark on another adventure.

He launched and served as the CTO of EmasDigi, a fintech platform specializing in gold investments, for one year.

Then came the plan to start up a company in the health sector.

He is now the co-founder and CEO of Indopasifik Teknologi Medika Indonesia (ITMI), a new health tech startup which he founded with three others who are also close friends. Namely, Abi Dwiaji Wicahyo as a chief commercial officer, Hari Novferdianto as COO and Faren as CTO.

(clockwise): Abi Dwiaji Wicahyo (CCO), Hari Novferdianto (COO), Faren (CTO), and Natali Ardianto (CEO)

Because the new venture is still flying under the radar, Ardianto and his fellow co-founders weren’t able to share many details including its name and services, but he gave us some clues.

Ardianto told KrASIA that he also became an advisor for Indopasifik Medika Investama (IMI),  a holding company behind pharmacist PharmaPlus, homecare service platform Homecare24, and general practitioner and specialist clinic chain PrimeCare Clinic.

He revealed that this new venture has raised a pre-series A funding round with IMI as its sole investor, and that it will offer two digital services that are in line with IMI’s existing businesses.

IMI is Indonesian company and the people behind it have been in the healthcare industry for 40 years, Ardianto told KrASIA. The people there have gathered experience with the Canadian healthcare system, in particular; that’s why IMI’s business are inspired by the advancement of Canadian healthcare services, Ardianto said. They are premium services that target the middle-and-up cconsumers.

Together with the investors, Ardianto and the other co-founders are on a mission to improve the healthcare industry in Indonesia using tactics popular in developed counties by adopting the best practices, technology, and innovation.

“Our new platform will be complementary to IMI’s three entities which are already digital-based,” Ardianto said.

He told us that the new company started operations on June 17. “By day 15, we’d completed the business and technical plans, including user interface details. We are now in the development and execution stage,” he said. The platforms will go live in the next three months and will be officially launched by the end of this year. Ardianto said he received 300 resumes from applicants and that they hope to hire 52 employees this year.

Waiting to be disrupted 

Based on experience and referencing IMI’s existing businesses, Ardianto believes that there are still many untapped opportunities in the health tech sector waiting to be disrupted.

“Take for instance Homecare 24. Most people might think that home nursing services are only for the elderly, but we found cases that prove the assumption wrong. For example, we had a customer who called to request a nurse to give him a Vitamin C injection at 4 AM in the morning after he came back from clubbing. We’ve also handled several emergency cases where the patients were in a critical condition. So the demand for the service is high out there,” Ardianto said.

Although unable to disclose more details, Ardianto said that his startup will offer new services that can’t be found in the current health tech ecosystem in Indonesia.

According to him, the company applies a blue ocean strategy in which they open up a new market and with plans to reinvent the industry. It is about creating and capturing uncontested market space.

“Our segment is very specific and therefore, we don’t have a head-to-head competitor,” Ardianto said.

If we take him by the word, the new startup should then not focus on medicine delivery, free online consulting services, or health-related digital content- popular services that are provided by existing health tech players like Halodoc, Alodokter, and SehatQu.

The co-founders are confident about their startup’s future because it has a clear business model with clear revenue sources.

“From the beginning, we only wanted to enter an industry with promising commercial gains,” said Ardianto, “In this case, our revenue comes from service charges and commissions. We target to be profitable within a year and we are quite optimistic about reaching that goal.”

Ardianto added that if they are able to achieve the results and performance they are aiming for in the first three months of operations, it’s very likely that they will roll out the solution to Southeast Asia immediately.

Building from zero

With their IT backgrounds, Ardianto and other co-founders are considered new players in the healthcare field as they lack any medical-related experience. But this hasn’t held them back from entering the industry.

“We’re technology agnostic people so no matter what the industry is, our value proposition is how to digitize old work processes. What we’ve learned from previous ventures is that as long we have domain experts, we’ll able to run well. In this case, our domain experts are our investors who have deep experience in this field.”

In addition, Ardianto believes that the total addressable market in Indonesia for the healthcare industry is huge but lacks outstanding players.

“Currently health-tech is still in its infancy stage in Indonesia. But I think we’ve come in at the right time because several years from now when the industry is maturing, we expect to be in the better position than other players in term of completeness of product and complexity of solutions,” Ardianto explained.

As they are building something new, Ardianto stresses the importance of paying close attention to all regulatory aspects, especially as the healthcare industry is a complex one with lots of regulations.

“One of our important strategies is to engage with the regulator,” Ardianto said. “The government is currently working on a draft law covering the digital health sector so it is extremely important to stay relevant on the regulations and to strengthen our relationship with related institutions.”

Encouraging entrepreneurial spirit

ITMI is Ardianto’s fifth venture and he admits to enjoying the adrenaline rush that comes from getting a project off the ground. Of course, starting a startup has its own ups and downs. Ardianto believes that the key to building a company is to find the right team.

Ardianto, Wicahyo, Novferdianto, and Faren met at Tiket, they regrouped to build EmasDigi before deciding on this new venture. All told, they have been working together more than five years on three startups without experiencing any conflict between them.

“A solid team who shares the same mission and vision is extremely important. For the first 50 hires, we review all the candidates together because this is the most expensive investment for us,” said Ardianto.

The other three co-founders also have their experience with the ins and outs of digital startups. As a result, although the IMTI project just started two months ago, they have already made detailed preparations and plans, including pivot strategies should things go wrong in the future.

“As entrepreneurs, we have to think ten steps ahead. A common mistake that founders make is rushing to progress without thinking of the long-term consequences. There are a few startups that made lots of errors after their business took off because they didn’t expect such success and did not know how to further scale their business,” said Ardianto.

Even so, according to Ardianto, building a new company today when the startup ecosystem is maturing is far easier than before, especially in terms of finding talents.

He is also seeing a shift in perspective among Indonesian youths as many young professionals are eager to work in new startups because they want to be a part of new innovations that drive the advancement of the country’s digital economy.

“More people realize the benefits of joining a startup from the beginning because they can learn so much there. For example, there are several people who joined Tiket as fresh graduates and now they have become CEOs or founders with their own startups,” he said. “The entrepreneurial spirit is increasing in Indonesia. I’m sure that the Indonesian digital ecosystem will be more advanced next year and more people will become entrepreneurs.”