The Tech Startup Ecosystem in Paradise

The edited version here:


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 initiatives we are co-building here, for entrepreneurship in tech, 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 as their base, can also 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 also invests in early to seed stage startups. Aryo says it very well,

“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 will revolutionize the learning platform for biotechnology to a productivity platform within an email client for the billions of Windows OS users worldwide. Not only does Bali have a host of local tech startups, but events like Project Getaway and Getaway Ignite bring an even more powerful startup network to the island. More and more entrepreneurs locally and from all over the world together in one place to get work done, in the most conducive environment for focusing on building companies and developing your software.

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 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 that 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 and more opportunities 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 in Bali, 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 here on the island of Bali. The startup ecosystem here has also evolved in providing workshops for startups on product testing, best coding practices, raising funding, pitching, marketing and software development.

Co-working Spaces in Bali

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, 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, and 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.

When you are looking for the startup culture and ecosystem in Bali, Startup Getaway holds some authority here. It is one of the first entrepreneurial communities to emerge from Bali, 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.

In an effort to encourage innovation in new tech businesses in Bali, Contenga/Livit continues 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.

Bali Tech and Entrepreneurial Initiatives You Need to Know About

In conjunction with the existing (and soon more to come) co-working spaces in Bali, there are also many inspirational tech startup initiatives and events here. Here’s to name a few:


“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.” – Nick Martin, co-founder and COO of Startup Getaway

So what tech startups can we find in Bali?

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. A perfect time for networking, getting to know the many talents and cool tech centered businesses on the island. The community in Bali is perfect for stimulating new opportunities for startups to network and meet investors. Check out this TechInAsia Bali Meetup on Friday March 7, 2014.

There are many exciting tech startups established in Bali. Even bigger online tech companies like Rocket Internet began expanding their services in Bali with Food Panda. So we’d like to dive into a few Bali startups that we’ve come to know very well.


Mailbird is the first ultimate email productivity platform for the billions of Windows users worldwide. That’s right, this little email company with an international team of eight experienced software and business developers are building a globally scalable product from a tiny island in Indonesia. Mailbird has been a live product that has established a proper product/market fit for just shy of a year in public beta. The team’s vision is to innovate email as a platform for both personal and business communication for SMEs and MNCs world-wide to significantly boost productivity and overall operational efficiency. Taking on Outlook email clients that over-saturate many offices.


Mailbird was featured in Lifehacker, TechCrunch, PC World, The Verge, Tech In Asia, CNet among many other tech publishing sources. The Mailbird team won the productivity award at the prestigious Sparxup tech conference in Jakarta in October 2012. In 2013, PC World named Mailbird as one of the best free productivity tools for the business person. It’s now 2014 and the team has launched many new software additions which include multi-account support, multi-language support, proxy support that stack on top of the many productivity focused features and the inbox zero philosophy for inbox management.

IT World named Mailbird the best email client for Windows and Gmail users, so you know these guys are doing something right with an excellent team behind their developing software. What is even cooler, is that Mailbird was founded at one of the yearly entrepreneurial initiatives in Bali called Project Getaway as mentioned previously. Bonus: Get Mailbird Pro 25% off when ordering before March 27, 2014 using this coupon –


StarHero is the most popular and widely used rating and review site in South-East Asia, bringing together all the best reviews of places you like in one common web and mobile service, so you can enjoy and explore the best places near you. Yet another wonderful international team of tech savvy and creatively driven team members that work remotely between Bali and Kuala Lumpur. Culturally, Asia has a strong socially driven online presence which is why StarHero has chosen Bali to build their social site for sharing great tips, ratings and review for restaurants, hotels and night life.


Labster is a very unique project to be building from Bali. We are talking bio-technology, the science of life. Intrigued yet? Again an incredibly talented team of 3D game developers, designers and developers work with a team in Denmark on a virtual laboratory for bio-tech students. 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. All the latest lab equipment at your fingertips so you can conduct proper bio-tech case studies and learn how to use treatment to cure many ailments that plague our societies today like Diabetes, Cancer and many other diseases. There is even the incredible technology available to further the virtual lab experience in 3D with the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.

Smart Launch

With the increasing number of what is known as the “digital nomad” or location independent entrepreneurs, the business opportunity for internet cafe and gaming center establishments continue to grow. So another door opens for an end to end solution for cyber cafes and internet cafes, and along comes Smart Launch. Another wonderful software that solves the maintenance and management problems for these internet provider cafes. The Smart Launch team is a great mix of talent from Indonesia (Bali & Surabaya), Canada and Denmark. When they were building Smart Launch as a startup, they were in Bali. Now they are out of startup mode and fully functional and profitable business and Smart Launch is able to work in distributive team setup. Again, awesome to know that it all started in Bali.

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Other startups in Bali, both local and international that you need to check out:–Indonesia

…and there is so much more!

Let’s wrap it up…so why is Bali the next tech hub?

Serial entrepreneur and Founder of Livit (formerly Contenga International), Michael Bodekaer hits the nail on the head when we ask him, “Why choose Bali?” His response:

  1. Great climate and life style 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 super welcoming and the warm friendly Balinese people was what really kept me on Bali after first coming there almost 4 years ago
  4. When 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.
  5. So what does an entrepreneur do if you look for something and can’t find it? You create it!
  6. It became my mission to build a thriving startup culture and ecosystem in Bali
  7. I’m really happy to see the tech startup ecosystem really starting to thrive now after 4 years of incubating startups and organizing Project Getaway events.
  8. And we got huge plans for the Bali tech startup ecosystem for 2014 and 2015 already in the pipeline.
  9. The Balinese infrastructure in terms of internet, power outages etc. is becoming much much better every year and now at a stage where any tech startup could operate conveniently from Bali

Michael is a great supporter and advocate for tech and entrepreneurship. He believes strongly in building an innovative and thriving community that works together using technology and business savvy to solve many pressing problems for 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 big calling to all tech-centric entrepreneurs, we hope to see you soon in Bali.

Other Tech/Software Companies in Bali:


Power House Goes to Gili

Remember one of my earlier posts from my first trip to Gili (scary room for $10/night with the gecko and little bugs everywhere)? A year later I make my 5th visit to the 3 tiny islands with a kick ass group of people. Had tons of fun and even was able to get some work done while enjoying life! Also, Mailbird is doing really well and continues to evolve and it is awesome that we are doing it from a place like Bali. We are part of the startup movement growing in Bali and I freaking love it. Last year I also attended a prestigious tech event in Jakarta called Sparxup. This year, given the emerging growth of the tech startup scene…I don’t have to fly to Jakarta, but rather Sparxup is coming right to our front door here in Bali. Awesome. Big travel plans to Europe and back home to the U.S. with plans to attend several tech events and share the awesomeness of Mailbird with the tech startup communities and interested people. Crossing my fingers for potential investment opportunities 😀 Let’s do this! So happy to have my team in Bali. This month I’ve hiked my 2nd active volcano, visited the pristine Gili islands, sang a little Mariah Carey in a big ass karaoke room, joined a female entrepreneur network and community in Bali, met with the son of Indonesia’s richest tycoon, started a 2 day juice detox (which if you would have asked me to do this a year ago, I would have said…impossible. 5 more detox days to go!), and taken on more involvement roles in the Bali community while continuously developing my personal and business goals. I’ve continued to meet some amazing people and feel incredibly lucky and appreciative of what life has brought upon me. High five to an awesome last year, and cheers to a phenomenal rest of this year.

Cities, Organic Cafes, Dolphins in the North, and more. It Get’s Better Each Day.

It has been over half a year now that I’ve been living on the enchanting island of Bali, and months since my last update. Where to begin?

Amazing people.

Project Getaway Bali 2012

An awesome month long Bali adventure for entrepreneurs from around the world. This wonderful event introduced me to new people with brilliant ideas, cool projects, new experiences and adventures like hiking the tallest volcanic peak on the island. I could do a post on the challenging hike up Mount Agung alone. For purposes of keeping it brief, the highlights start with sleeping at 8pm to waking up by 2am and a sleepy drive through the night, offerings to the volcano and gods. Everyone prepared with their flashlight and ducktape rigged hats used as headlamps, Bali Buddha bakery reserves, lots of water, matching track suits, a hiking buddy (at least I had one), and some “Lord of the Rings-esque” music…a dramatic kick off to the beginning of the hike.

The groups separated. Soon it was just me and my buddy at the bottom with no one else in sight. There was a leg cramp (aka- Charlie Horse) situation that I had to attend to, that had me abandon my hiking partner…whoops. I set off on my own, looking to each side was slightly disorienting, with a steep incline, the moon to my left and the sun slowly peaking to my right. Beautiful. Made it to the top! Was greeted by many smiling faces. Felt good to reach the top. The way back down was manageable with my new friends. A lovable and hilariously fun British dude and goofy Danish party go-er tumbled down Mt. Agung…taking breaks, sharing waters, blistered feet, muscle fatigue, and complaining about how it felt like we’d never reach the bottom. Worth it.

At the top of Mt. Agung

The best part is having made some great connections, new friends with great energy, people you actually want to keep in your life moving forward.


There for a demo for a startup competition for Mailbird, I had the opportunity to revisit my old stompin’ grounds. A place I spent 9 years of my life, where some of the more important life changing events occurred that have made me the person I am today. Oh Jakarta. It was just as I remember, only a little more congested, more 2 hr stand still traffic to go 15 minutes through town, more skyscrapers, tons of malls, lots of places to eat, and great night life. Visited my old house, my old (and awesome!) school Jakarta International School, the local restaurants I’d frequent regularly, hanging out with high school buddies, cheap and delicious local eats at places like Bakmi GM at Pondok Indah Mall. Went to a bar that was new to me, called Skye Bar at the top of one of towering bank sky scrapers downtown. An old friend was DJ-ing that night, apparently Maroon 5 was there but I didn’t see them. Neither did I care much haha. Great music, amazing cocktails…little pricier for my taste but was worth it with the spectacular view from the top and was lucky to spend it with awesome people.

Ahhh…back to Bali. Then jet set off to Singapore.

I was actually really happy to come back home to Bali from the hectic city life in Jakarta. I felt a lot more relaxed, feeling the zen as soon as I landed back on the island. Bali really feels like home now, I love it here. Was great to revisit Jakarta, but I was definitely happy to be back home. More new faces! Had a great connection with a new friend that joined our co-working space. A very cheerful gal who I instantly bonded with. Getting really close with everyone here, and I adore each and every one of these amazing human beings. They are my family here in Bali (Oooo… Getting a little too sentimental and mushy. For those of you who know me well, so not my style, but I mean it. Great people here.)

Feels good to be home, and even when you leave and visit other beautiful islands surrounding Bali like “Gili T”, it is still always wonderful to come back home, tucked away in our cozy neighborhood in Batubulan, Gianyar. Dinners with the gang, learning sessions, encouraging group and individual physical work outs that are actually fun, 5k run for charity, purpose, and giving back to the community. We have some great movie nights, sneaky trips to the local Indomaret convenient store for Pisang Goreng Spesial. Battered and fried banana slices, sweet condensed milk, drizzled with palm sugar, chocolate shavings, white shredded cheese that pairs so fantastically well with it all…I get carried away. Oh, and the amazing massages…I think I am addicted to Bali.

Revisiting the Gili Islands.

Sunset With Friends on Gili Trawangan

This time, no dodgy room, with wild gecko’s in my bathroom, squiggly worms and centipedes, or a guy with a metal stick jabbing away at all the little night crawlers. Found a place in-land that was a great deal, a traditional bungalow like an elevated hut, outdoor stone bathroom, AC, and breakfast for about $15/night. Also nice that it was really close to the night market that is totally packed at dinner time with backpackers from all over the world, sharing stories, laughs, eating delicious local food (by my standards, the best real nasi goreng can be enjoyed here), and a nice cold Bintang. Also, it’s very cheap.

Cheesy White Linen Dresses.

Spent some time in Bukit Peninsula and Ubud when mamma and the aunties came to visit. Watch out for these sassy Filipino broads, they are the ultimate Pinoy triple threat…and I love them 🙂 They were all like “Hey everyone! Let’s wear white and take picturesque photos by the beach!”…Ok, ok sure why not. Got to do a lot of the more touristy stuff during their short 5 day visit. A mish-mosh of temples, oceans, rice terraces, monkeys, Kintamani buffet lunch overlooking Mt. Batur, strawberry valleys, sunsets, and kecak dance sight seeing.

Cheesy White Dresses With the Triple Pinoy Threat

Now we are in Ubud. There was a cute fruit bat named Charlie that would flirt with Ubud Inn guests walking by, as well as an amalgamation of food experiences which is now the main reason I go to Ubud. A nice visit to Sari Organik, a wonderfully tasty and healthy cafe in the middle of the rice fields, where a simple salad and fruit shake leaves you feeling totally satisfied. Carrot and Mango juices at Sari Organik below = the bomb dot com 😀


Mango and Carrot Juice at Sari Organik

Northern Bali.

Sunrise in Northern Bali and Dolphin watching…does it get any better? Lovina is nice and quiet, not much there, but beautiful nonetheless. The beach is so calm that it feels more like a lake. Perfect for watching the sunset sink into the ocean- even when a friendly Lovina local comes up to you. Cannot remember the guy’s name but very chilled out, friendly, and spoke English really well. He sat with us, chatting away and happy to be in our company. After he showed off some handicraft shell jewelry he had polished, carved, and shaped himself, we said our goodbyes and it was off to dinner. The next day was a trip to Air Panas (hot springs) where you submerge into a warm, greenish murky water. Sounds gross, but it was wonderful. The little kids were hilarious plopping into the water, showing off by doing front flips into the hot springs. Dolphin watching was beautiful. I always talk about the sunsets in Bali, not the sunrises. This by far was the best sunrise I’ve seen on the island. Snorkeling wasn’t too shabby either. A pit stop at the Git Git Waterfall on the way home was a must, along with coffee and tea tastings at a Kopi Luwak plantation.


Our Boat Guy Spotting Dolphins @ Lovina


Air Panas / Hot Springs


Best Sunrise With The Dolphins

Retreat to the Southeastern Coast

I could keep on going… as there are so many wonderful places to experience in Bali. This time, it was a 5pm boat ride from Sanur to Nusa Lembongan, a small, quaint island in the Southeastern part of Bali. Had gone snorkeling here before which was rad, but never had the chance to explore the island. There are several little coves and bays around the island that are fun to explore. The best way to do it is to rent a scooter for about Rp. 70k/day (about $7 USD) and get lost. Seaweed farming is big on the island, and the benefits of seaweed are used for many high end cosmetic products seen on the beauty market today. I learned this through my weak attempt conversing with one of the local gals in Indonesian as she weaved seaweed into bundles. There I was thinking it was for eating, but glad it wasn’t because the smell of the seaweed when laying out in the sun to dry is rather, well….stanky, and hard to escape when it is laying around all along the coast.

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Seaweed at Nusa Lembongan

Mangrove beach was great, sat on a raft with loungy pillows, colorful ball shaped lanterns, sipping on Es Kelapa (Hack a hole in a big green, fresh coconut, add some ice, palm sugar, limes, and a straw = Es Kelapa), then later snacking on the coconut meat. Good stuff. The experience of  hand picking small ripe mangoes along the road, right off the trees when feeling a little hungry, biting into them without even having to peel off the skin, resulting in a Mango slimed face and sticky hands, felt primitive and earthy. I liked it. Had a pretty heavy stash of mangoes and coconuts now. Excellent.


Mangrove Beach From Our Raft Sipping On Es Kelapa

There’s a suspension bridge that crosses you into Nusa Ceningan, just South of Lembongan. Many beautiful beach coves here that are iridescent with sparkly pockets of blue and green water.


One of the many little coves on Ceningan

Went to a place called Mahana Point which was still new in development. Here, you can watch the big rolling waters of the Bali sea, while surfers are speckled several meters from the shore, catching waves where the reef breaks. Took a ladder from a cliff at Mahana Point down to the water, floating around in the sun, full of happiness. I’ve done cliff jumping before, and there are two cliff jumping spots at Mahana Point that looked super fun. Instead, I chose to sit on the edge of one of the jump-off planks, with my bare feet dangling off the edge, taking in the moment with a cold glass of papaya juice and soaking up some matahari.

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Mahana Point jump-off plank where I sat with my Papaya Juice Gazing at the Bali Sea

Again…it’s all about the people.

I spent my first Christmas and New Years in Bali. Christmas was not the same as being cozy by a fire, with comfy warm jammies on or perhaps a Snuggie for you “As Seen On TV!” folks, eggnog, and several feet of snow glittering outside your window…but honestly, it was pretty badass spending it on a tropical island. With friends at home bearing the cold winter, I would only feel like an asshole if I were to ever complain about the heat over here in Bali. We actually had a blast with two celebrations, a Danish Christmas “linner” (lunch+dinner = linner) on December 24th. What makes it Danish? The great food, which includes a deliciously hearty, dense, and nutty rye bread (no, its nothing like American rye bread…it’s way better), and apparently copious amounts of drinking, specifically shots of 80-100 proof Snaps (again, not like American Schnapps. This stuff gets you warmed up for a wild night).


Danish Christmas Party With the People I Love

This all lead to karaoke, dancing on stage at a gay bar, salsa dancing, and then….more dancing. Ending with a lovely chat, with a lady who offered up some mie goreng, a.k.a. Mi-Go, a.k.a. fried noodles. I said no. She was totally into me, not because I am a narcissist, but…

#1 We were on the gay friendly strip in Bali (Jl. Dhyana Pura) which is totally full of life, loud music, and beautiful “lady boys”.

#2 To paint a picture, this broad wore her hair in a tight bun, no makeup, dressed in a tightly wrapped flowery sarong, and very forward, never breaking eye contact with me, even when I’d try to look away mid conversation. She motioned by twirling her hand around saying “yeah most everybody here is…you know.” Not sure why she didn’t just flat out say, “yes most of the residents on this street are part of the gay community here in Bali.” So I was like, “Oh ok, cool.”

#3 One of the sweetly flamboyant boys nearby, one of her friends I presume, was very complimentary. He snuck up to me asking if I was “into” ladies. I laughed and said no. He laughed, pointed at the woman I was just chatting with to whisper that she thought I was “hot stuff.”

All in all, I was ultimately flattered…but exhausted and ready to jump on an Ojek (scooter taxi) and head back home.

Then a second marvelous Christmas celebration on the 25th. Dinner with friends at Chandi in Seminyak with crackers, cocktails, and Cointreau engulfed chocolate fondant.


Chocolate Fondant w/ Raspberry Heart Fired up with Cointreau @ Chandi- Best. Thing. Ever.

To end the year and celebrate 2013, we did dinner at Ultimos, open bar at a penthouse party at the W hotel, courtesy of a good friend of mine that I’ve known since second grade. The espresso martini’s were perfect. Watching fireworks from a penthouse balcony overlooking the beach, pretty awesome. Dancing the night away even when it was raining the dj’s kept playing, staying up to watch the “sunrise” on the beach (not really, because we were in the West), still awake to take our first morning swim of 2013, passing out at 8am, then waking up to an over the top brunch with raw oysters and champagne mimosas. Amazing.


View of the fireworks from the balcony at our Penthouse party at The W.


2012 has to be one of the best years. So many remarkably kick ass people, accomplishments, challenges, and life-changing moments. I want to say Thank You. I cannot wait to see what 2013 has in store for me.


View from the office.


Halloween @ Skygarden w/ the Gang. Spice Girls tore up the dance floor!


Working @ Clear Cafe in Ubud


Birthday Celebrations w/ My B’s