Head of BKPM Thomas Lembong VC

3 Things That Indonesian VCs and Startups Need to Have in Mind

29 October 2019


At East Ventures’ 10th Anniversary event, Mr. Thomas Lembong (Ex-Head of Indonesia’s Investment Coordinating Board) represented the President of the Republic of Indonesia, Mr. Joko Widodo, to give a keynote speech. 

He started his remark by congratulating Willson Cuaca, Batara Eto, Taiga Matsuyama, East Ventures’ staff, and all members of the East Ventures ecosystem on an incredible 10 years journey. “As you know, Mr. President really loves you guys. He’s so excited about what every one of you is doing,” he said.

In the speech, Mr. Thomas Lembong mentioned 3 important messages for the audience.

First, he cautioned all VC and players in the startup ecosystem about the global economic slowdown, as been mentioned by the World Bank. Because of that, to safeguard everything that we’ve achieved, he urged everyone to be prepared.

“It’s not a fun message, but we (the government) cares so deeply with what you’re doing, so planning and precautionary measures is a priority. Imagine if you can’t get funding for 2 years, how you would adjust your business plan, so you can continue your business,” he explained.

Second, Mr. Thomas Lembong mentioned about the transition of the first and second period of Mr. Jokowi’s presidency. He explained that he and other current ministers are still in the preparation meeting every week, to prepare the second-term agenda. However, he can promise that there will be a renewed push on economic reform.

“The key measure is the reform of labor law because that is the uniform request that we get from all business communities. There will also a revision on investment negative list,” he said.

Third, Mr. Lembong reminded everyone (VC and startup founders) that along with the desire to reach more success, higher valuation, more wealth, and build more revolutionary platform and solution, we also have to start preparing for inevitable tech lash.

“That’s why we have to care about the civil challenges faced by the country, such as environment, inequality, and struggle of our fellow citizens to meet ends meet. We have to start maturing, to become a policy involved community,” he said.

Unexpected meeting because of an e-book app called Scoop

Head of BKPM Thomas Lembong

Mr. Thomas Lembong recalled how he met Willson Cuaca for the first time when he was still a venture capitalist eight or nine years ago. At that time, he was obsessed with the Indonesian version of the Amazon Kindle called Scoop. He searched for the creator of the app and met Willson.

“I was very grateful because I was nobody back then. I was just a fellow venture capitalist (VC). However, Willson was willing to come to my office, shared his experience, discussed and compared notes,” he recalled.

A couple of years later, he hosted a global association of fund managers in Jakarta. He invited Willson to attend their event and give a speech to the budding digital economy and e-commerce players. It happened 9 months before he joined the cabinet.

“Seed fund number 7, growth fund number 1, ten years of building the ecosystem. It’s a truly phenomenal and proud achievement, so congratulations and all the best,” he ended his speech.

< Previous Video: Minister Luhut’s Speech