Looking for my geek side?
Monday, January 28, 2013
Sunday, July 22, 2012
Sedikit latar belakang, sekarang gw tinggal di Bukit Jalil, dekat stadion yang waktu itu digunakan untuk pertandingan bola Indonesia vs Malaysia. Ini adalah tempat "kost" gw yang keempat selama bekerja di Malaysia, dan lingkungan sekitar masing-masing tempat kost sangat berbeda. Gw akan membandingkan dengan kondisi di Jakarta,
Tempat tinggal pertama: Shah Alam.
Shah Alam bagaikan Cikarang—jauh dari ibu kota dan relatif jarang penduduknya. Waktu pertama tiba di Malaysia, gw ga punya duit (sekarang juga ga punya sih, hehe). Untungnya ada teman SMP yang tinggal disini, jadi selama sebulan pertama gw menumpang di kondo dia di Shah Alam.
Pengalaman dari tinggal di Shah Alam:
- Beberapa perusahaan besar di Malaysia mempunyai call center untuk penggunanya yang ber-Bahasa Indonesia. Teman gw dan teman-temannya bekerja di DiGi ("Indosat-nya Malaysia," populer di kalangan anak muda karena murah). Mereka pekerja outsource dan mendapat akomodasi tempat tinggal (satu kondo bertiga) dan bis karyawan. Karena mereka bekerja shift, bisnya datang setiap jam.
- Tidak ada alasan untuk tinggal di Shah Alam kalau kamu bekerja di Kuala Lumpur, kecuali punya kendaraan sendiri dan rela menghabiskan waktu di jalan. Teman gw punya mobil dan kantornya di Shah Alam juga.
- Transportasi massal berbasis rel di Kuala Lumpur ada tiga: monorail, KTM dan LRT. KTM hampir sama dengan KRL AC ekonomi(?) di Jakarta—sama-sama ga tepat waktu dan lambat.
- Tiket dapat dibeli di konter atau mesin (tapi kebanyakan mesinnya rusak, hehe), atau pakai kartu Touch N Go (kartu debit).
- Di Indonesia, kamu bisa berdiri di pinggir jalan dimana saja (termasuk di gang!), pasti ada angkutan umum yang lewat. Disini kamu bisa berdiri di pinggir jalan besar dan ga melihat satu pun bis lewat.
- Disini ga ada ojek, bajaj, omprengan atau angkot (minibus). Selain transportasi berbasis rel, hanya ada bis dan taksi.
- Di bis ga ada kenek, hanya ada sopir yang sekalian mengurus pembayaran. Kamu harus membayar tunai atau dengan kartu saat masuk. Suara rekaman akan memberitahu kamu sudah sampai mana.
- Kalau naik bis, kamu umumnya harus berhenti di halte, ga boleh di sembarang tempat.
- Taksi disini sangat pemilih. Sedikit macet ga mau, padahal kan tetap dibayar!
- Di beberapa tempat (terutama daerah turis dan tempat clubbing), taksi ga mau pakai argo ("meter") atau minta tambahan, misalnya +RM2 (~Rp6 ribu).
- Di bandara dan KL Sentral ("Blok M"-nya Kuala Lupur), kamu bisa bayar taksi dengan tiket. Datang ke konter, kasih tau mau kemana, bayar sesuai jarak. Ga perlu takut dibawa muter-muter atau tawar-menawar.
- Taksi disini jauh lebih jelek dibandingkan di Jakarta.
- Naik taksi disini cenderung lebih murah, mungkin karena tidak begitu macet dan tidak perlu memberi tip.
- Jalan raya di Malaysia lebih lebar.
- Jalanan disini umumnya hanya macet sebelum dan sesudah jam kerja, tapi macetnya tetap lebih "masuk akal" dibandingkan dengan di Jakarta.
- Beberapa jalan tol dipasangi speed trap—kamera yang menangkap kalau kamu terlalu ngebut.
- Di Jakarta, orang suka seenaknya menyeberang jalan sementara mobil/motor harus mengalah (mungkin takut dibakar massa kalau menabrak orang, hehe). Disini sebaliknya.
- Di Kuala Lumpur, mobil lebih banyak dari motor.
- Motor boleh masuk tol tanpa membayar.
- Kadang disediakan jalur khusus untuk motor.
- Tidak ada yang mau naik motor kecuali terpaksa. Pedagang kaki lima dan penjual DVD bajakan di emperan jalan pun naik mobil.
- Alasan orang-orang disini punya mobil karena transportasi umum sangat minim. Secara kualitas Malaysia menang, secara kuantitas Indonesia jauh lebih baik (terlalu banyak malah, jadi macet).
- Orang Malaysia sedikit lebih teratur dalam mengantri, termasuk di lampu merah (untuk hal ini, pengemudi mobil lebih patuh dibanding pejalan kaki).
- Disini ga ada tukang parkir, apalagi "pak ogah".
How fast time flies. My last post was on the 1st of January this year, and that's more than a half year ago!
I was dormant here, but I kept on writing (at least for a couple of weeks) in #anakkos, a blog inside Neytap.com, a classifieds for room rentals, for SEO purpose. So far, the website receives almost 100 page views daily. Not bad for a $0 marketing effort.
It could be better, though. I use Ajax heavily to make Neytap speedier (speed is a feature of Neytap), but it's not SEO-friendly. I also design Neytap home page to be clean and simple, just like Google's; Apparently it's not SEO-friendly as well :( Search engines would think my other pages are not really important, since they're not referenced directly from the home page. That's assuming the engines can find the pages in the first place, since in order to open those, you must perform (Ajax) search. Dooh!
TL;DR: Neytap is designed to be speedy, with the (unforeseen) expense of search engine discoverability. Lucky that blogging helps, although not by much. This explains why engineers suck at selling consumer products :D
Next, I co-founded Cabara.co.id, a curated marketplace for domestic workers. At the moment we're focusing on maid service in Jakarta. We pitched in Startup Asia Jakarta 2012, you can watch my pitch there in YouTube (you might want to skip the first few minutes).
We didn't win (we'd be surprised if we did), but it's a great opportunity to pitch there. We were covered in Tech In Asia and some other publications, and approached by a number of VCs. Everything is new to me (and to my co-founders as well, apparently), so it was quite an experience.
Last but not least, I recently created temanmudik.com, a (social network?) website to connect Indonesians who are going homecoming this year. It's a tradition in Indonesia—and probably other Muslim countries, I know they have it in Malaysia—for people to go back to their hometown to celebrate Eid ul-Fitr (in Indonesia it's called Idul Fitri or Lebaran).
Following Minimum Viable Product concept, at the moment Teman Mudik is just a landing page and to be developed progressively depending on feasibility. Teman Mudik is a mini-site for Neytap and they share the same user base. I will give report on how it goes after Eid ul-Fitr.
Sunday, January 01, 2012
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Neytap is a classifieds for room rentals inside Facebook. It's simple, because I lack design skills. It's fast, because my internet is crappy. And it's easy, because I'm too lazy to explain how it works :)
For the curious, the word neytap originates from an Indonesian word "menetap", which means "to stay" or "to settle".
me·ne·tap v bertempat tinggal tetap (di); bermukim di: banyak orang asing ~ di kota dagang itu; ada yg pulang ke kampung halamannya, ada pula yg ~ di kota-kota; — Kamus Besar Bahasa Indonesia
"menetap" is a mouthful word so I trimmed it to "netap". To make the pronunciation similar for Indonesian-speaking and English-speaking tongues, I added "y" in the middle.
"If you are not embarrassed by your first release, you've launched too late" — Reid Hoffman, Founder of LinkedIn.
I'm embrarred indeed. The website is so simple, too simple in fact. There are some features that I decide to exclude from this release, including multi-language support and a mobile version, mainly because they're still crappy.
This is the first public release of Neytap, but certainly not the last. I'm going to update the website iteratively. Meanwhile, please take a look at Neytap and tell me what you think!
If it isn't for the pretty date (20-11-2011—Indonesian format), I would certainly delay the release. But then again, "waiting for the perfect time" is just an excuse and it may never come. Soli Deo gloria.
Friday, October 07, 2011
For the one I'm doing with a co-founder, it's pretty much stalled. It requires significant capital investment and some brick-and-mortar business networking thus we can't start from zero. My co-founder has pitched to some VCs all out, but apparently the conventional wisdom is true: you can't really get investors just by selling idea. At least not when you're nobody.
For the other one, a classifieds for room rentals (the idea is much bigger than that, but I must start from something small), it's been going slow. I thought of speeding it up; quit my full-time job and give the project all the love. That's why I was thinking of raising MYR 75k (USD ~23.7k or IDR ~210m) in convertible debt to fund the project for at least 6 months.
I cold emailed some people (only two, actually. A CEO in a company I worked for and an acquaintance I met in airport), asking whether they know anyone interested to angel invest in my project.
The latter forwarded my email to her business partner who then asked for a pitch. To my surprise, he showed deep interest on our first meeting, and immediately showed intent to invest after reading my financial projection (which I think quite conservative on number).
In case you're curious, here's my proposed term:
- 8% interest p/a
- 25% discount
- with cap
- maturity at 1 year
- Start the company in Malaysia so we can get government grants and stuff, but it must be majority owned by local, so he proposed...
- 60% for himself (being a Malaysian). And because his business partner (my friend) introduced us, so...
- She'll get 20%.
- Maybe he doesn't really trust me, so the money will be dispensed monthly, and...
- I must get his permission for any expenses.
My friend jokingly said the money I need is around the price a car, might as well I borrow it from bank and keep 100% share for myself.
I emailed the investor politely rejecting his offer. Here's a snippet of the letter:
You've been very gracious with your time and I'm thankful for that. After careful consideration, however, I have decided not to take your current offer. I have asked around and did some research, convertible debt is still the term I want.
There's a great article on the benefits of convertible debt, http://venturehacks.com/articles/debt-benefits, where the two main points (for me) are Suitability (point 2) and Control (point 3). It is also investor-friendly when complemented with discount and cap.I guess I'll keep doing this as a side project until I can stand on my own or found more sensible investment.
Monday, July 18, 2011
I usually only approve cute chicks and people I know—because in my experience random guys who added me happen to be gay and they thought I am too (I am NOT). Since he introduced himself (and his intent), I'm more than happy to approve his friend request. He happen to be a smart person, and has a female wife :)
We exchanged messages, and I thought one of my replies worth to post in blog, so I asked his permission and he agreed, so here it goes:
Hi bro, thanks for your length reply. I think you should stop reading and start jumping to action. In startup, first-hand experience is much more useful.
The simplest is to create a landing page to validate your idea. If it doesn't get satisfactory traction (i.e. low signups), either the idea sucks or the landing page needs refining.
It might hurt to know the truth (since your idea is most likely your ambition), but it will save you the time from building product nobody wants and you can move on to another idea.
A couple days ago I read Ash Maurya's Running Lean which mentioned Eric Ries' Lean Startup. I didn't finish the reading, but it made me realize that I've been taking the wrong approach.
I've been spending too long developing the product and also sidetracked by "research", but nothing towards validating my idea early. I'm afraid that when my product has complete, it doesn't get the traction I expected, and I will feel demotivated. I've been in this situation.
But there's a lie within landing page approach: Sometimes the traction doesn't translate to actual product usage. It might be because the product is "less interesting" than what you promise in the landing page, or the product launched too late (the guy who subscribed already forget who you are and what you do), or any other reasons. Just be prepared with this.
So, to answer your question on how am I doing with my journey, now I'm doing "temporary pivot". I'm focusing on building a landing page.
My co-founder is currently in Jakarta for his first baby born and also to pitch to some VC. My project with him requires significant capital and network investment, so it's essential to raise some money (and make friends).
As for my other project, Neytap, now I'm thinking on how to solve the chicken-and-egg problem. As you know it's a classifieds for room rentals, a marketplace of buyers (tenants) and sellers (landlords). I need to figure out how to grow both sides in balance. Do you have suggestion?
Anyway, regarding US as your target market, I think you're right, aim the ones you're most familiar with. But isn't US already saturated?
I'm so happy to meet like-minded people :)
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Teddie followed up with an interesting question (copied as-is), "As a Founder..how much U willing to Pay Your Programmer (honestly)?" Wenas Agusetiawan replied, "rockstars deserve to be paid well," but Teddie didn't seem satisfied with the answer thus asked again, "how much?"
My answer is: "It depends." Let me elaborate.
I'm a programmer myself. If I were to outsource/delegate programming tasks for any of my startups, it must be because (1) I'm not good enough to do it myself, or (2) The tasks so boring I'd rather do something else, like sleeping.
So, how much?
If I were to pay the programmer for the first reason then I must award him well. He's smarter than me, he deserves at least same salary I'd get if I were to do it myself. If for the second reason, I'll base on industry standard, or, "How much I'm willing to be paid if I don't have better option." (Which is logical—if you're the programmer, would you take the boring/repetitive job if you have better option?)
Of course, being a startup founder, you must squeeze expenses as much as you can. So for the first case, I'll negotiate with him but focus on retainment (I don't want to lose him). For the second case, I'll focus on minimizing expenses (I don't want to lose too much money).
Note: Change "him" to "her" for your convenience.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
I usually work solo on my personal projects, and it's damn tiring (on the plus side, I can do whatever I want, haha). I do have a partner in one of my startups, but since my internet is crappy and my co-founder lives in a different continent, communication is hard.
So it was a very refreshing experience when last month I attended Google Hackathon App Engine. It was a very productive weekend indeed.
From Wikipedia: A hackathon is an event when programmers meet to do collaborative computer programming. These events are typically between several days and a week in length. A hackathon refers not simply to one time hacks, but to a specific time when many people come together to hack on what they want to, how they want to - with little to no restrictions on direction or goal of the programming. Translation: party for geeks.
I didn't manage to launch anything there, but I made significant progress; made some friends too. Looking forward for another similar events. So guys, if you have the chance to attend such event, don't miss it :)
Sunday, July 10, 2011
My first project is Neytap, a classifieds for room rentals—which in Bahasa Indonesia is called kos (correct term is indekos, although sometimes people write it as kost or kos-kosan). I'm aware that there are some similar websites already, but competition is always good :) It has just reached version Private Alpha and right now is under development for Private Beta.
My second project is a location-based service. I can't tell you much about it since it needs to be in stealth until certain stage of development. I can only say that, for this project, I have a co-founder.
On using new technologyBoth projects use JVM-based languages: Java, Groovy and Scala. I'm currently learning Scala, so I try to use it as much as possible. Groovy is used for scripting (like one-time off code) and Java when I'm stuck with Scala :D
There's an important lesson that I want to share with technical founders who, like me, like to tinker with new technology: Building startups with technology you're not familiar with is a bad idea.
I'm not talking about quality (since you're not familiar, you might develop sub par solution), but it's all about time allocation. The point is, every time you want to use some fancy stuff in your project, ask yourself, "How much the distraction from achieving my target (delivering project)? Will it add significant value (i.e. "worth the time")?"
I spent a significant time learning new stuff instead of working on actual product for these two projects. Knowledge-wise, it's not a waste. Goal-wise, it is. I decided to fallback to technologies I'm familiar with, and adding just a bit new stuff that I'm sure will improve my productivity.
Infrastructure setupYou can code immediately without any documentation (URS, Diagrams, etc), which is exactly what I did. But at some point you will realize that you need some order. You need at least an issue tracker.
Important lesson: Use what you're familiar with and don't spend too much time setting it up. I'm familiar with Trac, Redmine and JIRA, but all of them are not trivial to setup for me (YMMV). I end up using YouTrack. It's free for 10 users, no installation. Just download the JAR file and run from command line:
java -jar youtrack-3.0.jar 9999. This assume you have Java runtime installed,
The next thing in mind is a version control system (VCS). You must use VCS. Use the one you're most familiar with (if you're familiar with none, then stop coding and learn one, Git is good).
Important lesson: If you don't like to wait, make sure your infrastructure is fast. Get a good computer with enough CPU and RAM. If you work alone, setup issue tracker and VCS in your workstation (localhost). If working with team, use the fastest server-based solution. I use Unfuddle for Git and installed YouTrack in an EC2 located in Singapore. If submitting an issue or comitting code take too long, you'll be tempted to open Hacker News and not working :D
In conclusion, remember not to spend too much in either "research" or setting up infrastructure. In the end, it's your code that matters.