The Angel from Darmawan Park
    Category: Private Money By : Ardian Wibisono Read : 3839 Date : Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - 09:45:18

    Ahmad Zamroni / Forbes Indonesia

    Now 80, Januar Darmawan spends most of his days in his retirement home on his sixteen hectares of land known as Darmawan Park in Bogor. However, Januar is anything but retired: for the past six years he has been quietly heading an angel investor company and business incubator from this location. The company, named PT J Darmawan Venture Capital (JDC), is helping create young entrepreneurs.

    “I always like to see people succeed and many would like to have their own businesses,” Januar says about what he does. “Many people become entrepreneurs because no company would hire them, while many smart young people who have the potential to be successful entrepreneurs tend to end up as employees. I want to change that.” His JDC is a unique blend of angel investing combined with startup incubation and mentoring.

    Januar holds a PhD in Agronomy from North Carolina State University and has also taught at the Bogor Institute of Agriculture since 1960. Januar's parents were both businesspeople—his father owned a textile factory in Juwana, Central Java, and his mother had a batik business. Januar worked in some clove plantations before joining his younger brother Hari Darmawan in his company Nutrifood. The company is best known for its brands such as Tropicana Slim, WRP and L-Men. Januar expanded his brother's business by helping him relocate the offices from Semarang to Jakarta and his factory from Semarang to Bogor, so they could sell in Jakarta's big market.

    He also helped the company install a new management system that allowed it to become more efficient. He then went on to become the chief executive of Nutrifood from 1992 until he retired in 2003. But he was not the retiring type—with all his money and experience, he felt he should give back.

    Januar says he likes to see people succeed. Even while working at Nutrifood he helped some managers set up their own companies. So Januar wanted to do a similar thing. After a discussion with friends, he decided to establish an angel investment company to help fresh graduates set up their own business. Januar placed an initial capital of Rp 12 billion in JDC.

    JDC does more than disburse funds. To get funding, would-be entrepreneurs first have to undergo a rigorous program. In the first year, trainees go back to school, such as learning about management and ethic and how to write a realistic business plan. The teachers are entrepreneurs who have their own businesses or are professional business instructors.