by Ardian Wibisono
“Location, location, location,” a maxim once the purview of the property industry, has found a new lease of life in the digital world of big data. A good location is one of the key factors that determine whether a mall, a store, a restaurant or a movie theatre could attract customers and thrive in business. In today’s world of technology adoption, with smartphones, applications and the internet of things (IoT) tracking where we are and what we do, there is now on offer infinite amounts of precious data; data, which when well translated, can help entrepreneurs and corporations look for greater insights when choosing a particular location.
Local start-up “location intelligence” company, PT Bhumi Varta Technology (Bvarta), seeks to help companies pull insights from big data. To achieve this, the company enriches spatial information with other data like demographic, socialeconomic status (SES), point of interest (POI), zoning regulations, land value, and people traffic. With this merging of data, Bvarta can help identify consumer trends and behaviors and collect a variety of information on niche markets, enabling better decisions making, delivering better products and services and help mitigate uncertainties. Globally, location intelligence is a huge business. According to India & US-based market research and consulting company Grand View Research, the global location intelligence market size was valued at $10.6 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.2% until 2027.
“This is huge potential market, first Indonesia and then maybe beyond. There is data everywhere, but it needs organizing in a way that can be used easily by professionals. Indonesia is a huge country and logistically challenged, so I see endless ways how our mapping of big data and predictive analytics can really make a difference here,” says Martyn Terpilowski, cofounder and president director of Bvarta.
Martyn, a British citizen, has lived in Asia for nearly 20 years. He spent most of his previous career in Tokyo and Hong Kong in various positions in the financial markets, private banking, family offices and the hedge fund space. After setting up his own boutique venture capital business in Singapore in late 2016, Martyn moved to Indonesia in 2018. A few years back, Martyn met with David Pandjaitan and they became friends. David is the founder of mining company PT Toba Bara, he is a veteran businessman and the first son of the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Pandjaitan. Martyn says he pitched the idea for the location intelligence business to David, who then agreed to partner in the venture.
“I am in the mining business and we rely in GIS (geographic information system). So, I see a good potential for the business beyond the mining industry,” David says.
Bvarta was launched in October 2018. Both brought in Benny Emor, an expert in GIS, geodatabase, spatial analytics and system integration, to run the technology development in the company. David is now the president commissioner at Bvarta, and Benny is the chief operation officer. Along the way, in December 2019, a couple of strategic investors: Arya Setiadharma, the CEO of Prasetia Dwidharma, and Felix Setyomulyono, the Managing Partner of Azure Investment Partners, joined as board members. Both have invested in a number of tech startups and Arya was an early investor at smart-city company Qlue.
While there are GIS consultant companies in Indonesia, Martyn claims his company has no competitor. GIS consultants tend to do a specific project by client order. Meanwhile, Bvarta offers a modular system that allows the service to be instantly used by various industries, thus enabling it to scale. For example, if a company wants to find the right location to build a mall in Makassar, Sulawesi, they could buy a relevant module. The module contains information and point of interest related with the industry in the area like SES, applicable POI like the locations of restaurants, banks, ATMs, and movie theaters in the area, as well as people mobility. Some of the data can also indicate exciting insight. For example, brands and type of mobile phones used in the area could indicate economic status and purchasing power. These data points, Martyn says, will continuously be updated and expanded to improve the algorithm and analytics. The module can also be combined with data from the client to make the analysis more precise and exclusive. So far, some companies like coffee shop Kopi Janji Jiwa and the country’s largest movie theater chain Cinema 21 have used Bvarta’s service to gain insights on where to open their next store and theater–Cinema 21 also use it to decide how many screens are needed. These companies are charged annually for Bvarta’s software as a service (SaaS) product.
“Customization is the main advantage in this system,” says Indrawan Fauzi, business development manager at Cinema 21, about Bvarta’s product. Indrawan has been in the retail business for over 12 years.
Martyn says even Google is not offering this kind of service in its Google Maps. Unlike many location intelligence companies that use maps from Google, Bvarta is building its own map, which can also be used by other companies and applications. Bvarta will also charge the client each time it uses the map, similar to Google’s. The map business has a lot of potential too. For example, Google charges $5 for every one thousand requests of direction and $10 for the same amount of applications but with real-time traffic. With the expanding trend of the ride-hailing ecosystem and Indonesia’s huge population, the demand for the service is enormous.
“This will be a map for Indonesia, built in Indonesia, by Indonesians, and will be called LokasiMaps. It will include a feature called Dheket so companies, particularly the huge SME community, can have access to cheap and more effective advertising by finding customers with certain interests and within a certain radius or geofence. This will also help consumers to find what they need, when they need it,” Martyn says, adding Dheket will be rolled out next year.
While the COVID-19 pandemic put some barriers on its growth plan, the company remains optimistic on the longer-term. Martin says he lowered this year’s revenue target to between $1.5 to $2 million from the previous target of $2.5 million, but Bvarta is still recruiting more staffs and just moved to a new office in Bumi Serpong Damai that could accommodate up to 100 employees. Besides the potential demand from the private sector, the company seems pretty well connected with government institutions by having David as president commissioner. Martyn says Bvarta has also started helping the government in tackling COVID-19 spread with its system. And as the government proceeds with its single map policy, being a local company also possibly allows Bvarta to benefit from the project. There have been concerns about data security and sovereignty when involving foreign companies in implementing the one map policy.
“In the long-term we want a product that Indonesia can be proud of: a high tech product that’s headquarters is actually in Indonesia and that pays tax in Indonesia. This may lead to an IPO in Indonesia,” Martyn says.