Entrepreneur / June 2018

William Tanuwidjaya and Tokopedia

Back in 2014, the Indonesian digital industry was rocked with the $100 million investment by Softbank Internet and Media and Sequoia Capital in Indonesian e-commerce company Tokopedia. With that investment the company went to work to develop into one of the biggest and trusted brands in Indonesian online shopping.

Tokopedia has since become a large enough entity that it has secured $1.1 billion in investment from a consortium led by China's e-commerce giant Alibaba. The success of Tokopedia has made its founder William Tanuwidjaya a celebrity in Indonesia's digital industry.

William was born in Pematangsiar, North Sumatra on November 11, 1981, where he completed his schooling through to high school. Then his family gave him the opportunity to continue his education in Jakarta where, on his way to earning a bachelor degree, William spent his spare time earning money running an internet café.

When he attained his degree in computer engineering from Bina Nusantara University in 2003 he went straight into the workforce and worked at several IT-based companies for a while before developing a concept of an online-based shopping platform that could cater to the needs of the ever-growing number of digital shoppers.

William realized early on that the number of people who depended on online shopping was growing, and with the advent of the digital age along with the availability of smart devices, he was convinced that e-commerce had a bright future in Indonesia.

Despite the growing number of tech-savvy people in the country, there was a lack of platforms catering to online shopping that were uniquely Indonesian. With that in mind William went to work.

Despite not having any experience in developing a business, he pushed on with his ambition to create the first online mall in Indonesia. He invited his friend Leontious Alpha Edison to help in the startup and they went to work finding investors to fund their project. While it proved difficult to find initial investors, Tokopedia was finally launched in 2009 and has since become one of Indonesia's startup success stories.