Johnny Widodo of BeliMobilGue on his ambition to dominate Indonesia’s automotive market

A former director of Ovo, Widodo wants to transform BeliMobilGue into a leading player in its field.

Image courtesy of BeliMobilGue

Johnny Widodo is a familiar face in the Indonesian startup world. He was appointed as the new CEO of used car marketplace BeliMobilGue (BMG) earlier this month after leaving his position as a director at the Indonesian digital payment platform Ovo. One of the founding members of Ovo, Widodo played an important role in growing the company’s business since its inception in 2017.

With his new role at BMG, Widodo is charged with making the platform a leading player in its field. The pressure is on, especially since BMG’s parent company, Berlin-based Frontier Car Group, announced an investment commitment of USD 30 million that will be channeled into BMG over the next two years.

KrASIA recently sat down with Widodo to learn more about his journey in the country’s digital industry and his plans for BeliMobilGue.

Johnny Widodo, CEO of BeliMobilGue. Image courtesy of BeliMobilGue.

KrASIA (Kr): Please tell us about your background and previous ventures before you were involved with Ovo and BeliMobilGue.

Widodo (Wi): I have a strong engineering background, but I’ve only attended two schools in my life. I went to Karunia Christian School in Jakarta from elementary to high school and I went to Nanyang Technology University to pursue a bachelor’s and master’s degree in materials engineering. My previous ventures mostly consisted of leadership roles in management consulting, strategy, marketing, and sales across Indonesia, Singapore, the United States. I joined Lippo’s digital arm Lippo X in 2017 when they planned to build a fintech platform that we know today as Ovo. I was the third overall employee at Ovo and I was responsible for leading sales and operations activities in the company.

Kr: What was your most memorable achievement at Ovo and why did you decide to leave the company when it is on the rise?

Wi: As one of the founding members, I am very proud of the company’s achievements. Ovo was my first venture in the digital sector and I had to work and study extra hard to be able to master this field in a short time. Starting from zero, Ovo is now one of the largest digital payment platforms in Indonesia, and it took less than two years. Of course, it was the entire team’s achievement and I’m happy that I was part of it.

I helped to build Ovo since day one and to be honest, I miss the thrill of starting something from zero. So I’m very enthusiastic to be at BeliMobilGue and make it a leading player in its field. I’m constantly hungry for new challenges and I see that the online car marketplace is a very promising business so I’m eager to bring my experience and expertise to BMG.

Kr: How do you see the potential of the online car marketplace in Indonesia?

Wi: The used car business follows the country’s economic growth. According to my observation, there are at least 3.5 million used cars added to the market per year and this figure will continue to increase, especially as Indonesia is projected to become the strongest economy in Southeast Asia by 2030.

I think the main challenge for a digital used car marketplace is to gain the customers’ and partner’s trust. To overcome this challenge, one of the key features we offer at BeliMobilGue is safety and transparency for both sellers and dealer partners through our system.

Kr: What are the key features of BMG that make it stand out from other players?

Wi: Our value proposition is that we sell your car within one hour in a transparent, convenient, and safe manner. If you want to sell your car, you can visit our website, fill in your car’s details, and we’ll provide you with a price estimate. You can book an appointment and bring your car and its documentation for a free inspection at one of our 51 locations. and our inspectors will do a 300-point car inspection within 30 minutes.

After the inspection, we’ll let you know about the result and actual price or expected offer. If you agree to that price, we’ll put all the data into our platform and offer it to our trusted partners through the app. After 30 minutes, we get back to you with the highest offer and you’ll get the money once the price is confirmed.

We prioritize convenience and safety, which are crucial for people who want to sell their cars. For example, if you’re a woman who wants to sell a car yourself, chances are you’d get intimidated when you visit a dealer that is very male-dominated. When a dealer inspects your car, you may not know whether they are being honest or not. If you sell your car through classified ads, you may need to wait for weeks or even months for the sale. And what many people do not realize is that the car’s price is declining every day, so you might lose a great deal by waiting too long.

With BMG’s platform, everything is transparent so you don’t need to worry about being cheated. As we are partnered with over 1,000 certified dealers that need a high supply of vehicles every day, your car is guaranteed to be sold. BMG only takes an admin fee of IDR 1.5 million (USD 105), which is relatively cheap given the convenience that sellers get from our platform.

Meanwhile, for dealers, we help solve their biggest challenge, which is the consistency of supply. And they can check the cars via the app, which reduces time significantly.

Kr: BMG’s parent company FCG is backed by Nasper/OLX. What’s the nature of the relationship between BMG and OLX?

Wi: OLX is one of the largest classified marketplace platforms but they are focusing on the customer-to-customer market, which is different from BMG. BMG and OLX complement each other in the whole ecosystem. There is no direct partnership for now but we’re open for any collaboration opportunity in the future.

Kr: What are your plans as the new CEO of BMG?

Wi: As BMG’s business relies so much on its daily operations, we will continue to improve the service and operations in order to give the best experience for sellers and dealers. To do this, we’re expanding our team and are hiring quickly. We’ll also add more partnerships as I believe this is important to grow the business, and we plan to launch new business lines next year. The automotive business is huge but there are still many opportunities we’d like to explore including new business models and services.

Kr: As a leader, what have been some of your most important lessons during your journey?

Wi: There are three things.

First, changing a habit is not easy, but it is necessary. In the digital business, its all about disrupting the way people do things and introducing new innovations.

Second, in anything you do, whether you start a new business or you want to solve problems, collaboration is key. If you can’t do everything yourself, so always be open to new possibilities and collaborate more.

Finally, the beauty of running a tech startup is that you have the flexibility and ability to make mistakes. It is okay to make mistakes as it helps us grow and makes us wiser while making the next decision.