Navigating through different diaspora communities, one tech event at a time.
By Richard Darsono, co-written with Karel Luwena.
The Big Picture
Many of our friends from back home ask “How is life in the Bay Area?” Or as foreigners usually call them, the ‘Silicon Valley’.
We never have a short answer.
Things happen in the Bay Area all the time. Most of the time it’s about tech. It ranges from product launches like the latest Apple and Google announcements to big corporate drama, or new startup funding rounds from the hottest VCs in town.
Moreover, unless you live or have ever lived here, you would rarely talk about the Indonesian diaspora community in the Bay Area. A quick research shows that there are about 90,000 Indonesian professionals living in the US, about 4 to 5 percent of them live in the Bay Area. And, of course, there are hundreds of Indonesian students in universities across the Bay.
After living in the Bay for about few months, we have learned that the Indonesian community is quite fragmented. There are a lot of small Indonesian communities such as students organizations, religious communities, and professional networking groups. However, there is no umbrella organization that unites all of them.
We understand that the current sub-communities may have different objectives, and serve wide-ranging audiences. However, we feel that there needs to be a connector that brings every group together. Through this article, we want to add some value to the large and fragmented network.
On a related topic, the rise of digital economy in Indonesia and beyond has increased the demand for the ‘hungry’ and talented individuals. Even the CEOs and COOs of Indonesian startups would leave their offices and fly halfway around the world to convince Indonesian professionals in the Bay to return home.
Given the current situation, we believe Silicon Valley and other tech hubs in the US will play an increasingly important role in connecting the local talents abroad with Indonesian startups. This trend, and the movement of people back to their home country are best exemplified by the migration of the Chinese abroad educated founders and tech execs back to China.
Why did we write this?
The month of September is very special to us.
As the new kids on the block, we want to connect to the visionary individuals in the area. We also want to know what other Indonesians are up to. And, we want to share our experience and learnings.
In September, we went to a number of networking events that are related to the development of tech industry in Indonesia. We had the chance to meet many inspiring startup founders and key players from back home. Most importantly, we met so many diverse young talents from all around the US.
Therefore, to build on the September’s momentum and epiphany, (1) we would like to share the learnings that we got from the four events we attended, and (2) to initiate a conversation on the possibility of building better bridges to connect the existing Bay Area Indonesian communities and beyond.
For the sake of simplicity, the event(s) is divided into context, people, and key takeaways.
P.s. We think these events are important for catalyzing collaboration.
Without these kind of events, this writing would not have been possible. We got connected at the first event, PERMIAS Congress 2017.
1. PERMIAS Congress 2017, “Conquering Indonesia 2030”
More about KIBAR:
2. IPA, Indo Tech Community and Intudo Ventures
3. Insights and Updates on Indonesia’s in general and recent development on Indonesia’s digital economy.
“It’s a fallacy to say that SEA is a ‘region’ [market], different countries have different market behaviors, even within Indonesia, different cities are [behave] differently.”
“Capital is not the only factor. You have to have the humility of being an underdog.” — William, CEO Tokopedia
4. Indonesia’s Digital Disruption with Tanifund, Modalku and Adskom.
We believe that this piece is a stepping stone onto something of greater value. We would like to initiate a spark within the existing communities and beyond. We understand that uniting all Indonesian in the Bay Area is a tough challenge. However, we think the benefits far outweigh the cons.
We think that there is a great potential for further collaborations among the individual members who belong to many different organizations.
(Like what we did with this article).
Ideas do not exist in a vacuum, and we hope that we can help to facilitate that initial conversations.
Established Communities in Bay Area
Richard Darsono is currently interning at a microfinance crowdfunding platform in San Francisco to develop his curiosity in the intersection of finance, tech, and social impact.
Karel Luwena is an Engineer at a Silicon Valley stealth startup. He is planning to return home to help great people build the future of Indonesia on the next wave of technology.
This article was first published on Medium. It is reproduced here in its original version, with the permission of the authors.