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Chandra Firmanto is a serial entrepreneur and experienced managing director with a rich history in the investment banking industry. He has experience in company formation, banking, entrepreneurship, strategic planning and business development. He is a strong business development professional and holds a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship/entrepreneurship from the University of Southern California.

In 2016, he founded Indogen Capital (a venture capital firm in Indonesia). Since 2004, he was President of PT Aneka Makmur Sejahtera, where he led more than 3,500 employees and 150 branches across Indonesia, as well as a diversified portfolio in the automotive, hospitality and real estate sectors. Activities include Yamaha and Dunlop distribution, hotel franchising and residential projects in joint venture with Ciputra Property Group. The group has total annual sales of more than $1 billion.

In an exclusive interview, Chandra says:

Let’s start with sharing. There are always things I can learn from other successful entrepreneurs, especially if they come from an industry I don’t know well. This is another reason why I love working at VC. There is always something to learn every day 🙂 I am always happy to share with other entrepreneurs.

  • Life is short, so you have to find a balance between work and pleasure.
  • Maintain your integrity, because people will open more doors for you if they trust you.
  • Always work hard to reach your goal and keep moving forward. Don’t worry about negative comments from others.

Read on to learn more about Chandra Firmanto and her journey.

What is your education and experience in this field?

Chandra Firmanto: I am a serial entrepreneur and an experienced entrepreneur with a proven track record in investment banking. I have experience in start-ups, banking, entrepreneurship, strategic planning and business development. A seasoned business development professional with a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship and operations management from the University of Southern California.

In 2016, I founded Indogen Capital (an Indonesian venture capital firm). I have been the chairman of PT Aneka Makmur Sejahtera since 2004. I have led over 3,500 employees and more than 150 offices throughout Indonesia, as well as a diversified portfolio of companies in the automotive, hospitality and real estate sectors. Activities included Yamaha and Dunlop sales, hotel franchising and residential projects in joint venture with Ciputra Property Group.

When did you think about establishing a foundation?

Chandra Firmanto: 2015. After successfully transforming my family business into a fully professionally run company. Since I suddenly had some free time, I decided to start a venture capital fund because I believe that ZEE and Indonesia will become a hotbed of technology investments.

What sectors or companies have you invested in so far?

Chandra Firmanto: We are an investor in the field of industrial diagnostics. We have invested in workplaces, mobility/travel, automobiles and many other companies. We are a major investor in Travelio, Wahyoo and Carsome.

What companies would you like to invest in? And what is your mental model for investing?

Chandra Firmanto: We invest in companies that digitize the traditional business model while benefiting from Indonesia’s economic growth. We believe we have a strong network in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities in Indonesia. We help our portfolio companies, our partners’ portfolio companies, and the portfolio companies of friendly venture capital firms to take full advantage of opportunities in the Indonesian market.

What is your usual investment spectrum and in how many startups do you invest in total per year? Can foreign startups also get funding from you?

Chandra Firmanto: We invest in the aftermarket and aftermarket, which is in line with the pre-A and A-Series. We are investing in the aftermarket. We don’t have a target amount of investment per year. But any startup we invest in must have access to the Indonesian market, both at the time of investment and in the future.

What are the key performance indicators (KPIs) that you typically test for seedling growth? It may vary by sector, e.g. LTV, CAC, MoM, etc. but would it be helpful to know more about your additional investment drivers?

Chandra Firmanto: It varies from start-up to start-up. But first we look at gross revenue, contribution margin, LTV/CAC.

How do you handle this COWID-19 epidemic situation so that your foundation can survive in the future?

Chandra Firmanto: We advise founders to think both defensively and offensively, which means it’s always good to manage an alternative income stream and take advantage of the opportunity presented by the macro situation-it shouldn’t just be COVID-19.

Once you become an investor, as in the beginning, you have to go through a difficult time launching the first fund, while setting up a second fund or giving good returns to limited partnerships. If there have been similar difficult moments, can you tell us more about them and explain how you (or your team) overcame them?

We are very excited about our corner as an additional venture capital partner for expansion in Indonesia. We are helping other successful venture capital portfolios to enter the Indonesian market, as we have a strong network covering Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities throughout Indonesia. As a result, our IRR is good and our LPs are very satisfied. The most important thing is to keep your administration happy. Of course, when we started, the challenge for us was to convince successful startups and their venture capitalists to give us a chance, support them and let us invest.

Fortunately, enough people gave us a chance and we proved that we were one of the most active investors. At IndoGen, we have a dedicated team that manages the portfolios and works closely with the founders to gain their traction.

Do you have any further advice for those who want to establish a foundation?

Chandra Firmanto: It depends on your network – it varies. If you are new to the industry and don’t have a strong network, you need to become a value-added partner for a start-up. Work hard for your portfolio, and over time people will give you a chance to prove yourself. But if you have a strong fundraising network, that won’t be a problem and it may be more a matter of finding the right angle/story to make your resume stand out.

What mistakes do you think founders make when raising funds?

Chandra Firmanto: It is not enough to talk about the vision of the future and connect the dots between the current state of the company and the future.

What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who have the opportunity to meet investors like you?

Chandra Firmanto: Let’s start with sharing. There are always things I can learn from other successful entrepreneurs, especially if they come from an area I don’t know well. This is another reason why I love working in the VC space. There is always something new I can learn every day 🙂 . I am always happy to share with other entrepreneurs, so feel free to connect with me on Linkedin or Instagram : @chandrafirmanto.

What are the three most common questions asked of founders?

Chandra Firmanto:

  1. Business model
  2. Monetization
  3. Departure route

What is your general opinion on the term “global” and what are the important factors (criteria) that local startups should consider in their international expansion?

Chandra Firmanto: It depends on the business model, but in general we think it is important to capture a market before expanding internationally. Once the seedlings have achieved high penetration in the local market, it would probably make sense to look at foreign markets.

Which start-up or technology industry do you think will make an impact on the world in the next 2 or 3 years?

Chandra Firmanto: In Indonesia, it would be the companies that solve the biggest problems in the market, such as education, fintech, retail digitization and logistics.

What are the top three books or movies (TV series) that have changed your life and why?

Chandra Firmanto: No. I like to watch movies and read books. I take a little from each movie and book here and there, but no book or movie has had a huge impact on me yet. My highest rated movie is Forrest Gump, and I am a big sports fan after the NBA, NFL and college football, especially my alma mater USC Trojans, Fight On ✌.

How do you motivate yourself on a daily basis?

Chandra Firmanto: I think it’s always a personal battle against yourself. If you keep improving and working hard every day, you can go far. So it’s more about trying to get ahead.

What are the three most important life lessons you want your (future) sons and daughters to take away?

Chandra Firmanto:

  1. Life is short, so you have to find a balance between work and pleasure.
  2. Maintain your integrity, because people will open more doors for you if they trust you.
  3. Always work hard to reach your goal and keep moving forward. Don’t worry about negative comments from others.

Why do you want to be remembered?

Chandra Firmanto: No. I hope to help as many people as possible achieve our goal of becoming one of the best venture capitalists.

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