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Exclusive! Driving Startup Acceleration for Economic Growth through BNI Ventures with Eddi Danusaputro, Chief Executive Officer, BNI Ventures

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As Indonesia emerges from the shadows of the pandemic, a dynamic transformation is underway within its economy, driven by a surge of entrepreneurial vigour. The resilience and determination of the nation’s startup ecosystem have been on full display, propelling Indonesia to a prominent position within the Southeast Asian startup landscape.

Amid this remarkable revival, Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI) recognised the pivotal role it could play in fostering innovation and seized the opportunity by establishing BNI Ventures in 2022. This strategic move seeks to empower startups and contribute to Indonesia’s ascension as a global hub of creativity and economic growth.

In an exclusive insight for OpenGov Asia, Eddi Danusaputro, the Chief Executive Officer of BNI Ventures, provides a glimpse into the world of BNI and his personal voyage through the intricate and ever-evolving landscape of venture capital and startups. He shares his perspectives on the trajectory of innovation and offers his insights into the future of Indonesia’s burgeoning landscape.

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, Indonesia’s startup sector emerged as a beacon of hope for economic recovery and growth. Despite the hardships faced by various industries, the pandemic acted as a catalyst for the rise of new startups in Indonesia. While certain sectors struggled, such as travel and hospitality, others, including fintech and healthtech, thrived.

“The pandemic has accelerated the pace of digital transformation. This has created new opportunities for startups in sectors such as e-commerce, fintech, and healthcare,” Eddi observes. “Moreover, it has prompted an increased emphasis on sustainability and critical event management.”

Consequently, this dynamic is paving the way for startups dedicated to developing solutions for climate change and related environmental complexities as well as responding to crises and disasters. As a result, the pandemic has underscored the heightened significance of a robust remote work ethos for startups, a practice that will likely endure well beyond the pandemic’s conclusion.

As the global worldviews changed, the investment landscape also underwent a transformation. Venture capitalists are becoming discerning with a more holistic view, prioritising value and path-to-profitability over mere valuation. As the traditional metrics of appraisal took a back seat, a new era of discernment and strategic focus emerged among venture capitalists. No longer solely captivated by superficial numbers, investors began to scrutinise startups with a keener eye, seeking deeper value and a clear trajectory to profitability.

With aspirations to lead the ASEAN region in the digital economy, BNI Ventures envisions itself as a strategic enabler of this vision. Operating as the corporate venture capital arm of BNI, the focus lies on sectors that align with BNI’s strategic interests, particularly fintech and fintech enablers. By providing financial support, expert guidance, and mentorship, BNI Ventures actively contributes to positioning Indonesia at the forefront of digital innovation.

Eddi acknowledges that the journey of startups in Indonesia is riddled with challenges, including inadequate infrastructure, talent shortages, regulatory hurdles, and investment constraints. In this context, BNI Ventures takes on the role of a nurturing ally, offering investment opportunities and comprehensive incubation and acceleration programmes. By addressing these challenges head-on, BNI Ventures empowers startups to overcome obstacles and flourish.

Drawing on extensive experience in management consulting and finance, BNI Ventures employs a set of rigorous criteria to evaluate investment opportunities. A focus on innovative solutions, strong business models, sustainable traction, and capable management teams are key elements.

While BNI Ventures is relatively new, its investment in startup Kecilin demonstrates its commitment to catalysing positive change within Indonesia’s entrepreneurial landscape. Kecilin is the first and only Indonesia’s cloud and compression technology provider making it possible for every business to experience small-is-better. It offers compression technology that is smooth, efficient, and applicable to modern technology models.

BNI Ventures extends its influence beyond investment, collaborating with regulators and government agencies to create an environment conducive to startup growth and innovation. Furthermore, the venture capital firm promotes sustainability by encouraging startups to incorporate eco-friendly practices into their business models, aligning with global trends towards responsible entrepreneurship.

Remaining at the forefront of emerging trends requires continuous efforts. BNI Ventures achieves this by maintaining an active network, hosting events, and engaging in co-investments. These endeavours ensure that the firm identifies promising investment opportunities that can drive Indonesia’s innovation landscape forward.

For aspiring entrepreneurs seeking investment and support from venture capital firms like BNI Ventures, Eddi advises showcasing passion, attention to detail, salesmanship, and team-building skills. Furthermore, a focus on long-term financial prudence and a clear path to profitability is crucial for attracting investor attention.

“Startup founders need to be passionate about their ideas and be willing to work hard to make them a success,” Eddi advises. “They need to be able to articulate their vision to others and inspire them to join the team.”

While the startup terrain can be tumultuous and fast-paced, founders must also develop a capacity for meticulousness. It will prove pivotal in upholding top-tier standards for the product or service, ensuring operational efficiency for the business.

Eddi draws parallels between his passion for basketball and his leadership approach. Drawing upon the foundational tenets of teamwork, communication, and passion, he emphasises the importance of commitment, discipline, and process in achieving success – these essential attributes prove indispensable in both arenas.

Whether on the basketball court or in the realm of venture capital, the result may be a win or a loss. However, the implementation of a well-honed process – read: practice – stands as a proven means to enhance the likelihood of achieving peak performance.

In the venture capital industry, Eddi actively promotes diversity and inclusion by recruiting, mentoring, and nurturing young and diverse talent. By empowering team members and encouraging a culture of learning from mistakes, he fosters an environment where risk-taking and decision-making flourish.

Eddi’s commitment to continuous learning, including teaching at Binus Business School, contributes to his resilience and ability to navigate through tough times. His journey from traditional finance to the forefront of Indonesia’s startup revolution is proof of the power of resilience, innovation, and the pursuit of passion.

Eddi’s journey is marked by a myriad of valuable lessons. But looking back, he says, “I would advise my younger self to take more risks, find joy in life and embrace laughter.”

Indonesia’s startup landscape is a testament to the nation’s tenacity, adaptability, and unwavering spirit. BNI Ventures’s strategic role in nurturing startups, driving innovation, and fueling economic growth reinforces Indonesia’s potential to emerge as a global leader in technology and entrepreneurship.

Looking ahead, BNI Ventures envisions a future with a thriving ecosystem of startups and investors in Indonesia. The firm aims to foster both quantity and quality in startups, while actively driving traction through collaboration within the BNI Group. This commitment underscores BNI Ventures’s dedication to catalysing Indonesia’s growth and prosperity through technology and innovation.

As the nation looks forward to a brighter future, the partnership between BNI Ventures and Indonesian startups promises to pave the way for a dynamic era of progress, creativity, and collaboration.

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