A tech startup ecosystem in paradise


Andrea is the CEO and co-founder of Mailbird, an email tech startup based in Bali. She is half American and half Filipino, but having lived in Indonesia for 11 years, Indonesia is her home.


Credit: www.embassyofindonesia.org

Bali is a place with beautiful beaches, volcanoes, scenic rice fields, great spicy food, and an abundance of adventurous island activities. The Indonesian resort town is a sanctuary with a thriving culture, and the people are some of the friendliest you’ll ever meet. You come to Bali for vacation, to get away, or to get inspired. Bali is also a place to build a startup, right?

Why Bali is a kick ass place for tech startups

“What? You have a tech startup in Bali?” is the typical response when we tell people about the tech startup initiatives we are co-building here, on the island of gods. The world is slowly catching on, but the startup scene itself in Bali is very much an emerging concept that has manifested into great opportunities for growth, learning, building and networking with local and international talent.

Bali is the new fast growing startup scene that people are surprised by. There are many entrepreneurs, IT talent, initiatives, events and startups based on the island. Small teams that work from Bali can easily collaborate with team members in other parts of Indonesia like Bandung and Jakarta. For many tech startups that work in a distributive team, Bali becomes the hub or meeting point where these teams can come together a few times a year to really focus and buckle down on building and developing their businesses.

Aryo P. Ariotedjo is a managing partner of Grupara Inc. which is a startup incubator in Jakarta, which invests in early to seed stage startups. Ariotedjo says:

All the action happens in Jakarta but it is very expensive to run a bootstrapped venture here. Bandung is the home of the top programmers in Indonesia and Yogyakarta is the city of students, the city of right energetic talent. If you want a place to just concentrate and build your product, it is definitely Bali.

This is clear when we start to look at some truly innovative startups coming from Bali. We’ve got the whole gamut of tech startups, from those who want to revolutionize the learning of biotechnology to a productivity platform within an email client for the billions of Windows OS users worldwide.

One of the strengths of the startup community in Bali is definitely the tight knit community here, opening up your network to all the knowledge and resources you need to launch a great IT product.

Mads Rode, co-founder of Vilondo, another awesome Bali-based startup, says:

In general people are very open to share new ideas, successes, failures and experiences, which can serve as inspiration for your own business. People are usually more than happy to help, so if you come across a challenge you can usually find someone with an expertise within the given area who are willing to share their knowledge. As the startup scene grows in Bali, some of this cooperation might turn into more formal business relationships.

As we see the tech startup culture grow rapidly in Bali, more opportunities will arise. More investors are keen on visiting the island, curious about the many cool startups. They want to be the first to get in on great investment opportunities there, in an effort to also stimulate the culture for investment and tech innovation in Indonesia.

The tech startup culture on the island is very much like a startup in itself. It is developing and we are all very excited to be the leaders in the rapid tech startup movement. The startup ecosystem here has also evolved to provide workshops for startups on product testing, best coding practices, raising funding, pitching, marketing and software development.

Bigger online tech companies like Rocket Internet have also begun expanding their services into Bali with Food Panda.

Co-working spaces in Bali


TIA team at Hubud

So where do these tech startups work? Existing co-working spaces in Bali can be found in Ubud, Sanur, Kuta, and Gianyar.

In Ubud we have Hubud, an in-land, eco-friendly co-working space filled with exuberant, smart, and creative people. In Sanur we have The Sanur Space, and in Kuta a lot of web startups work from Lumonata. We hear a lot that there is a need for a proper co-working space in Kuta and Seminyak areas. So for anyone out there seeking to start this initiative, do it, because there is definitely a strong need for it.

Last but not least, in Gianyar, tucked comfortably in a cozy village with rice field views, is Startup Getaway. This is my favorite, and yes I am slightly biased because this is the hub for my own tech startup. What is unique about this space is that it is a co-living and co-working community with a very strong network of tech entrepreneurs from all over the world. Startup Getaway stimulates a culture of happiness and holocracy, a great work/life balance and fun social events to enjoy with all the really great friends you end up making, as well as introductions to potential business partners.

Startup Gateway holds some authority within the startup culture and ecosystem in Bali. It is one of the first entrepreneurial communities to present, working towards becoming an accelerator for tech startups. Startup Getaway is also a partner of Contenga International, which is soon to be rebranded as Livit. Contenga (Livit) has a strong mission to inspire entrepreneurship around the world. What is special about it is the fact that all the tech communities in Bali can build remarkable solutions and products, while also living and enjoying life to the fullest.

Nick Martin, the co-founder and COO of Startup Gateway told us:

For me living in Bali is like a dream come true. Here we have the kindest and friendliest people, amazing culture, stunning landscapes, exotic climate, and a buzzing startup scene. It’s a super exciting time for us to offer accommodation and working environment, and at the same time be an active part and influencer of the thriving entrepreneurial focus that Bali is becoming. Bali is perfect for young startups as they can experience living the dream for a fraction of the cost compared to western countries.

In an effort to encourage innovation in new tech businesses in Bali, Contenga (Livit) is continuing to build the ecosystem for entrepreneurship and startups with many elements, which include an incubator, accelerator, resources, specialist resources, tailor-made program for startups, student programs (interns, etc), co-working and co-living.

So what tech startups can we find in Bali?


Pitching session with Startup Bali (Subali)

We are anticipating some really awesome tech events in Bali this year, one of which is a big hackathon bringing all the great technopreneurs of Bali together. It will be a perfect time for networking, getting to know the many talents and tech-centered businesses on the island. We would like to dive into a few Bali startups that we’ve come to know very well.

1. Mailbird

Mailbird is the first ultimate email productivity platform for the billions of Windows users worldwide. The team’s vision is to innovate email as a platform for both personal and business communication for SMEs and MNCs worldwide to significantly boost productivity and overall operational efficiency.

2. Labster

Labster is a very unique project. We are talking bio-technology, the science of life. The promise of Labster is to provide the full lab experience at a significant fraction of the actual cost of expensive lab equipment, while also providing safety for students within a virtual lab.

3. Smart Launch

Smart Launch is a wonderful software that solves maintenance and management problems for internet cafes. The Smart Launch team is a great mix of talent from Indonesia (Bali and Surabaya), Canada and Denmark. When they were building Smart Launch as a startup, they were in Bali.

Other startups in Bali, both local and international, that you need to check out are TastyCarrot, Startup Heroes, Dragon Game Studio, Bamboomedia, Magloft, JarvisStore, Eleven Yellow, Klakat, Ipaymu, Synergy Carbon, Tukuoo, 84Codes AB, LarisBgt, Sushi on Wheels, and more!

Why is Bali the next tech hub?


Credit: www.projectgetaway.com

Serial entrepreneur and founder of Contenga (Livit), Michael Bodekaer hits the nail on the head when we asked him, “Why choose Bali?” His responses are as follows:

1. Great climate, lifestyle, and much lower costs than most other places in the world.
2. Bali offers a huge variety of adventures, sports activities, amazing food, and cozy cafes.
3. The local community is welcoming, and the warm friendly Balinese people was what really kept me in Bali after first coming here almost four years ago.

[Upon] first arriving there was no startup scene in Bali, really. It was confusing to me, because Bali offered all the right ingredients for a great location-independent lifestyle – for tech startups, especially. So what does an entrepreneur do if you look for something and can’t find it? You create it! It became my mission to build a thriving startup culture and ecosystem in Bali. I’m really happy to see the tech startup ecosystem really starting to thrive now after four years of incubating startups and organizing Project Getaway events. We have huge plans for the Bali tech startup ecosystem for 2014 and 2015 already in the pipeline. The Balinese infrastructure in terms of internet, power outages, etc is becoming much much better every year and is now at a stage where any tech startup can operate conveniently from Bali.

Bodekaer believes strongly in building an innovative and thriving community that works together using technology and business savvy to solve many pressing problems in the world we know today. You can watch Michael’s TEDx talk in Ubud about the importance of building community and a work/life balance within the emerging tech startup ecosystem on Bali here.

This is just the beginning and we cannot wait to see more tech workshops, conferences, hackathons and startups to come. This is a call to all tech-centric entrepreneurs: we hope to see you soon in Bali.

(Edited by Paul Bischoff and Terence Lee)

(And yes, we're serious about ethics and transparency. More information here.)

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