Iman Usman, Co-Founder & COO of Ruangguru
East Ventures


5 April, 2023


Every student has the same learning opportunities: Iman Usman, Co-Founder & COO of Ruangguru

In 2021, the value of Indonesia’s digital economy has reached US$ 63 billion and continues to grow and is expected to reach US$ 360 billion in 2030. How do startups play an important role as a catalyst for digital economic growth? 

The value of Indonesia’s digital economy which continues to grow, of course, indicates growth in digital startups which are believed to later become the majority of Indonesia’s digital economy. We are very happy and of course, fully support the efforts of the Indonesian government which is very active in trying to increase the number of startups in the country. This means that the company’s container will be bigger to be able to grow and develop.

We believe digital startups can give birth to quality companies and have a positive impact by solving problems in society. For example, in the field of education, technology has helped bridge inequality by facilitating access to quality education for all or the way technology has played a very crucial role during a pandemic so that all students can continue learning.

Now widespread access to the internet and gadgets allows us to reach more students from various regions. Students from small areas can now access learning materials of the same quality as students in big cities. Furthermore, with the help of technology we can also offer learning services that are more effective, efficient and affordable.

In other aspects, Ruangguru also contributes to employment by increasing the skills needed for a qualified and work-ready workforce, one of which is through the launch of the Skills Academy, an online course platform that provides a variety of work readiness and self-development materials. Based on an internal survey of Skill Academy users in July-December 2021, 85% of users experienced an increase in their skills, 51% of users accepted a job offer after taking a Skill Academy course, and 87% of users who got a new job experienced an increase in income.

We believe that the more relevant solutions a startup can offer, it will play a role in creating new jobs along with more exponential business developments and being able to become a catalyst for digital economic growth in Indonesia.

The global economy is facing a multidimensional crisis or perfect storm due to the global recession, energy crisis, and geopolitical tensions. What strategies did Ruangguru prepare to deal with this condition?

Until now, our main focus has remained on our efforts to bring access to quality education for all as well as continuing to listen and serve the needs of our more than 40 million users in Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand.

We believe every student has equal rights and opportunities to learn easily and effectively. In order to support our focus, Ruangguru has previously launched various innovations such as: 

  • Ruangbelajar, thousands of high-quality content consisting of learning videos and practice questions with the development of features such as Adapto, a feature that enables students to have a personalized and interactive online learning experience. Quick Concept, a learning video that is made concisely, briefly and clearly.
  • Smart Recommendation, a machine learning feature that provides recommendations to students about subjects they still need to study.
  • Roboguru, a free feature that can help students understand the concept of the problem being worked on by providing detailed discussion of questions, recommendations for questions, and recommendations for discussion videos, as well as a summary of the concept with infographics.
  • Brain Academy Online intensive tutoring taught by the Master Teacher using the live teaching method (taught directly) with other students.
  • Live Tutoring, a scheduled live teaching feature with Star Master Teachers and friends throughout Indonesia through the Ruangguru and Desktop-apps.
  • Star Champs, a feature that can encourage students to be more enthusiastic about learning by collecting Golden Stars and Diamond Stars to become the top leaderboard and get attractive prizes and become Student of The Month.

Ruangguru also focuses on helping students deal with post-pandemic learning, including by deepening our blended learning strategy or a combination of online and offline. Currently, we have built more than 80 learning centers in various regions in Indonesia.

Not only for the K-12 segment, Ruangguru also continues to develop businesses and services to serve the needs of lifelong learning, such as:

  • Schoters: The largest study abroad tutoring platform in Indonesia with the most comprehensive services.
  • Skill Academy: An online course platform that provides a variety of work readiness and self-development materials to improve the technical skills and soft skills of young professionals.
  • ruangkerja: Learning Management System (LMS) for employee training.

We always strive to be a sustainable business, with a focus on growth and profitability. With the continued growth of interest in online learning, we believe that Ruangguru will also continue to develop in a positive direction. On the other hand, we are also working to optimize our cost structure to ensure business continuity. 

In the midst of rapidly growing digitalization, digital and physical infrastructure is still not evenly distributed in Indonesia. How does Ruangguru take advantage of this opportunity to encourage digital equity and digital economic growth in Indonesia’s tier 2 and 3 regions?

In fact, 70% of our users are not from big cities. However, there is still a great need for students in these areas. Therefore, we launched various initiatives such as training and scholarships that focus on specific online methods to reach these areas.

Since before the pandemic until now, Ruangguru has collaborated with 77 district/city governments in Indonesia, including the 3T regions, to introduce the use of technology in teaching and learning activities. 

Some specific initiatives for tier 2 and 3 regions in Indonesia are: 

  • Indonesia Teaching Fellowship (ITF): Teacher training themed throughout 2021, has been held in 15 Provinces and 33 Regencies/Cities and succeeded in increasing the Tryout Teacher Competency Test scores of its participants up to 71%. 
  • Indonesia Learning Fellowship (ILF), One year study assistance and preparation program for tertiary education. Throughout 2021, Ruangguru has helped 4,645 students in 26 provinces and helped 83% of the participants pass SNMPTN/SBMPTN.
  • Ruangguru Academy Scholarship for Package C students: A study assistance program to help those who are unable to continue their education due to economic constraints. A total of 1,585 package C students have obtained equivalence certificates in 2021 and 2022. As many as 35% of the participants have also made it into tertiary institutions.

Ruangguru also makes active efforts to provide access to quality education for students in areas that have not been touched by internet services. Some of the initiatives that have been implemented include the following.

  • Technology to reduce the bandwidth consumption of learning videos in Ruangguru by up to 80% so that content can be downloaded with a much smaller amount of data quota when the user has an internet connection.
  • Material that can be downloaded when the device is connected to the internet and can be viewed offline. 
  • Provide assistance to students and teachers in 3T areas by introducing the use of technology in teaching and learning activities.

The EV-DCI 2022 shows that there are disparities in education, including the quality of teachers and educational infrastructure. What are Ruangguru’s efforts to help overcome this disparity? What is the ideal form of collaboration in this regard?

Ruangguru has 3 main pillars to support the improvement of the education system in Indonesia and can reduce disparities. 

PILAR 1: Accessibility 

The Ruangguru application has been accessed 200 million times per month by more than 40 million users in Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand. Where there are more than 14 million online school users Ruangguru and other content which is held free of charge and 340 thousand teachers have used the teacher training module which is provided free of charge. This accessibility is achieved through various initiatives such as: 

  • Bridging the gap in access to learning in big cities and small areas through Ruangguru’s learning services, for example:
    • ruangbelajar, an independent learning platform with tens of thousands of animated videos, practice questions, infographic summaries, and tryout tests.
    • Brain Academy Online, online tutoring that allows students to learn live and interactively with the best teachers.
    • ruangkelas, Learning Management System (LMS) to facilitate Distance Learning (PJJ); and so on.
  • Through the Indonesia Learning Fellowship (ILF) program, Ruangguru has helped 4,645 students in 26 provinces and helped 83% of the participants pass SNMPTN/SBMPTN study assistance and preparation for entering college for one year. Throughout 2021, Support inclusive learning experiences for students with disabilities. Ruangguru has subtitle and talkback features that help students with disabilities to understand the subject matter. 
  • Through a teacher training entitled Indonesia Teaching Fellowship (ITF) which was held in 15 Provinces and 33 Regencies/Cities (including the 3T regions) throughout 2021, we managed to increase the Tryout Teacher Competency Test score of the participants up to 71%. 

PILAR 2: Quality Content 

Ruangguru provides 70 thousand learning videos as well as 40 million questions and answers and practice questions provided through 15 products and services. The high quality learning content meets the Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) standard where each chapter has exercises with 4 levels of difficulty: easy, medium, difficult, and HOTS. 

More than that, these contents are made to be personalized (personalized learning), through the following features:

  • Smart Recommendation, a diagnostic tool that can provide study recommendations according to each student’s learning progress. 
  • Adapto, an adaptive learning video that adapts material to students’ level of understanding. Increases average student learning time by 85% after launch. 
  • Roboguru features that can assist students in finding answers and understanding the process of answering questions. More than 42 million questions have been asked by more than 4 million students in Indonesia. 

PILAR 3: Employment 

There are more than 30 thousand recipients of skills and job readiness training programs and an average of more than 57% find jobs after receiving the training. We do this through various programs that improve the skills needed for a qualified and work-ready workforce, such as:

  • Launched Skill Academy, an online course platform that provides a variety of work readiness and self-development materials. As a result, 85% of users experienced an increase in skills, 51% of users accepted a job offer after taking a Skill Academy course, and 87% of users who got a new job saw an increase in income. 
  • Launching ruangkerja platform, an effective and efficient employee training solution. The platform received an NPS score of 74.4 and increased employee skills test scores by 40%. 
  • Organized the Ruangguru Academy Scholarship for Package C Students, a study assistance program to help those who are unable to continue their education due to economic constraints. A total of 1,585 package C students have obtained equivalence certificates in 2021 and 2022, with a pass rate of 97%. As many as 35% of the participants also made it into tertiary institutions. 
  • The Job Readiness Guidance Program (BKK) which provides various trainings to improve work competence, self-development, and soft skills through the Skill Academy by Ruangguru platform. This program has been attended by 30,000+ participants, helping 32% of them increase their income, and the other 22% experience career advancement.

The process of teaching and learning activities has resumed face-to-face following the post-pandemic conditions. How will it impact Ruangguru? What are the strategies for staying relevant to this change?

Ruangguru and its products have been innovating since before the pandemic. Being adaptive with existing developments is our principle in carrying out our mission so basically our products and services are developed for every situation.

The pandemic has forced society to accelerate adaptation to the use of technology in all aspects of life. In education, most people are now accustomed to online distance learning. We believe online learning will continue to be relevant because of its more flexible nature and broad reach.

Post-pandemic, we will continue to grow and innovate to advance our goal of advancing quality education for all. When the situation permits, face-to-face interactions are resumed. Our Brain Academy products will be ready to answer those needs. In August, we expanded our Brain Academy Center to more than 80 branches in 23 provinces in Indonesia.

Our Brain Academy Center offers a blended learning experience, combining offline and online learning to achieve the best results. In addition, we will continue to create impacts that can change the educational landscape for the better by expanding into various verticals in the K-12 and lifelong learning segments.

Startups bring technological innovations that have a real impact on the digital economy and collaboration is important in it. What kind and how does Ruangguru collaborate to grow a sustainable digital ecosystem? 

Ruangguru realizes that in order to accelerate adaptation and changes in the use of technology, synergy with various parties is needed. So far, Ruangguru has also collaborated with various parties in Indonesia such as: 

Collaborative programs with civil organizations as an effort to increase digital literacy in Indonesian society, for example: 

  • The Asean Foundation Program (ADLP), namely webinars, discussions, offline workshops to deepen the material and mentoring amplification of digital literacy education in the participants’ closest environment for six months.

Collaborative programs with the government to continue to expand and improve access to quality education throughout Indonesia, by increasing student learning outcomes and increasing teacher competency, for example: Indonesia Teaching Fellowship (ITF) and Indonesia Learning Fellowship (ILF)

Ruangguru also realizes that in facing challenges in access to education, it needs to collaborate with various parties. Not only with the government, we also collaborate with private institutions through various programs such as:

  • WIKA beton: A scholarship program that includes study assistance for 1 year and aims to increase students’ learning motivation, understanding of learning materials, parents’ understanding of children’s talent interests, as well as broaden students’ insights in creative thinking and interacting in the environment. 
  • PT Chandra Asri: Competency improvement and women’s empowerment program entitled PUAN ANGKASA (Women in a Synergistic and Empowered Community Space) which raises the topic of waste management.

We hope to continue to maintain and improve this good partnership in order to create a wider, more sustainable positive impact and reach more people.

Resilience depends on the ability to adapt in the midst of various conditions, even when disruption occurs. What are the business models and digital talent needed to continue to unlock new digital economy potential?

Ruangguru continues to strive to develop a sustainable business in generating short-term and long-term benefits. These benefits include projected profitability and how we are able to maintain our vision and remain relevant in becoming a solution to existing educational challenges. The solutions we provide not only for the K-12 segment, but also for the lifelong learning segment in order to improve the quality of human resources and develop digital talent.

In an effort to support the creation of digital talent needed, Ruangguru continues to collaborate with various parties in preparing and creating future ready-to-work digital talent and supporting the creation of a sustainable digital ecosystem through collaboration in increasing digital literacy such as:

  1. Asean Foundation (ADLP), as an effort to accelerate the understanding of digital literacy in Indonesian society which focuses on webinars, discussions, offline workshops to deepen the material as well as mentoring amplification of digital literacy education in the participants’ immediate surroundings for the next six months. Training conducted online and offline was given to a total of 70 participants consisting of 20 teachers, 5 school supervisors, and 50 high school students of the same level.
  2. Ruang Literasi Digital, supporting the National Digital Literacy Movement program by the Ministry of Communication and Informatics, through dozens of educational video content that has educated nearly 500,000 people in 34 provinces in Indonesia for free so that people can use digital media more competently, more safely, ethically and culturally.

As well as services and training for digital upskilling & reskilling such as: 

  1. Skill Academy, a certified class with comprehensive material according to the needs of the world of work and developing skills to compete in the labor market. 
  2. Skill Academy CAMP, a bootcamp organized by the Skill Academy for the general public from various backgrounds to increase competence in today’s technology industry.

The agenda for inclusive digital economic growth is also marked by alignment with SDGs through the application of ESG, how is it implemented in Ruangguru and what are the challenges faced?

Ruangguru also supports the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations.

To support SDG 4, namely Quality Education which aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and increase lifelong learning opportunities for all, we provide:

  • Inclusive and equitable education for students throughout Southeast Asia which to date has helped more than 40 million users in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, and is accessed up to 200 million times per month. 96% of Ruangguru users believe that studying in Ruangguru is more effective and interesting than other alternatives. 
  • Quality learning materials for the K-12 segment that are evaluated and delivered well by the Master Teacher at a cost that is 1/10 cheaper than conventional after-school tuition. 
  • Online personalized learning that can be accessed from anywhere, especially since 70% of our users are not from big cities. 
  • 70,000+ learning videos and 40 million+ QnAs and exercises 

To support SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth which aims to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment opportunities and decent work for all, we provide: 

  • Skill Academy, an online course platform that provides a variety of job readiness and self-development materials specifically for adult learners, which has now been used by more than 8,000,000 users to develop soft skills and improve competence in order to get a better job. 
  • Ruangkerja platform, an employee training solution that can be tailored to company needs, which has been used by more than 250 thousand workers and hundreds of organizations from various sectors in Indonesia to improve work competence, where the increase in employee skill test scores reached 40%. 
  • The Job Readiness Guidance Program (BKK) which provides various trainings for tens of thousands of residents studying at PKBM, students at Vocational Training Centers (BLK), final year students or fresh graduates who are unemployed, don’t have a permanent job, or have a salary below wages minimum. This program is implemented through the Skill Academy platform to improve work competence, self-development and soft skills in order to increase career and income. 

To support the 10th SDG, namely reducing intra- and inter-country disparities, we launched various initiatives under the auspices of the Ruangguru Foundation, a team dedicated to handling Ruangguru’s social initiatives. The initiative launched by Ruangguru Foundation has had a positive impact on more than 1 million beneficiaries (students and teachers) in the last 4 years. 

The following are initiatives that focus on the 3T areas to reduce disparities in access to quality education, namely Indonesia Teaching Fellowship (ITF), Indonesia Learning Fellowship (ILF), and Ruangguru Academy Scholarship for Package C students. 

Moreover, we have also developed subtitle and talkback features for students with disabilities to support inclusive education.

Download the EV-DCI 2023 here.