The edited version here: http://www.techinasia.com/tech-startup-ecosystem-paradise/
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 – http://sites.fastspring.com/mailbird/product/mailbirdpro?coupon=MAR2014
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.
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.
Other startups in Bali, both local and international that you need to check out:
…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:
- Great climate and life style and much lower costs than most other places in the world
- Bali offers a huge variety of adventures, sports activities, amazing food and cozy cafes
- 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
- 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.
- 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 4 years of incubating startups and organizing Project Getaway events.
- And we got 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 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: