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    Category: E-Gang By : Ardian Wibisono Read : 2368 Date : Monday, February 17, 2014 - 01:04:48

    Ahmad Zamroni / Forbes Indonesia

    Aryo Ariotedjo was 24 when he started Grupara Inc., a venture capital firm investing in Internet startups, at the end of 2011. Being young and innovative is his selling point. In 2012 he managed to convince several big investors such as the energy group Medco to invest $10 million in his startup. Aryo declines to disclose other investors, but it is said that tycoon Tomy Winata has also put money into the venture.

    Grupara is considered one of the most active local venture capital investing in Internet businesses in Indonesia. Last year Grupara invested around $1 million in five startups and this year the venture capital firm is helping some of its startups get global reach by setting up in New York.

    Grupara focuses on seed to early stage investment. Its seed investments can go as high as $50,000 while early stage could go up to $1.5 million. It also helps its startups look for outside investment. Grupara has a policy of taking a maximum of 30% equity in a startup and then hopes to exit after four to five years.

    At first, the Internet didn't interest Aryo. He worked for a while at a startup incubator in 2011 but decided the industry was still immature and that the real money was in coal trading, a job that his father also did. But that was before he read the book “Free: The Future of a Radical Price” by Chris Anderson. It was a book about digital businesses that offer free products and services but that can actually generate plenty of income.

    “It opened my mind. I knew that local startups had difficulties in finding investors and funding. I was thinking that I know many people with money and I could connect them,” he says. “Being an entrepreneur you have to be brave and try new things.”

    One example is when Medco provided Grupara with a 120 sqm office space at the Medco building, Aryo came up with the idea to share the space with startups for free, naming it Freeware.

    Any startup needing office space can send a proposal to Grupara, which gives free space to those which Grupara thinks has potential. When it comes to investing, Aryo evaluates both the entrepreneur and his business model. Last year 17 startups were at Freeware, of which five got investments from Grupara. Aryo says he usually takes three months to evaluate the startup before making any investment.

    So far all five startups are performing, says Aryo. Lolabox is one example. Started by ex-employees of Rocket Internet, Lolabox sells subscriptions to beauty boxes, in which each month subscribers receive a box filled with samples of cosmetics and makeup (a service that is already a proven success in the U.S. and Europe). The service now has 3,000 members paying Rp 145,000 a month, which gives the firm monthly revenue of over Rp 400 million. The service is so popular that there is now a waiting list of 5,000 who want to join as subscribers.