Wednesday, July 8, 2015

EAT, PROGRAM, LOVE: THE RISE OF TECH START-UPS IN BALI

Instead of unwinding in the tropical paradise of Bali, entrepreneurs are opting to plug into the island's emerging tech start-up scene because of a thriving start-up ecosystem, low overheads and, of course, the allure of the beautiful surroundings.
"With the rapid shift in remote working and entrepreneurial hubs popping up all over, [Bali] has quickly become quite a fascinating place for start-ups," said Andrea Loubier, CEO of Mailbird, a Bali-based email client start-up told CNBC in an email interview.
After completing her college education in the U.S., Loubier worked forseveral years before taking the plunge to seek out opportunities in Asia.
It was in Bali that Loubier met Michael Bodekaer, founder of Livit, an Indonesian-based tech start-up ecosystem. He invited her onboard tolaunch Mailbird, a Windows email client program, which was her first experience of building a tech company from the ground up.
Infrastructure, co-working spaces and start-up ecosystems
The IT infrastructure in Bali has grown rapidly over the last three years,with more Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and fiber optic networks.
"There are also many coworking and entrepreneurial initiatives in place to encourage the growth of tech start-ups," said Loubier.
For example, Livit collaborates with fledgling entrepreneurs and start-ups, providing them with mentors, specialist resources, growth acceleration and a space to work in one of Livit's six villas in Southeastern Bali.
Another successful start-up is Labster, a Bali-based tech science education company that generates scenarios with 3D animations to visualize life sciences and help students virtually go through their lab exercises.
Livit's ecosystem is unique because it functions as a coworking, co-living incubator program. Every need is taken care of, allowing participants to focus solely on their projects. Think of it as a work-and-play retreat with expert guidance on hand for the whole start-up team.
Many other coworking spaces in Bali also aim to create a conducive environment for tech start-ups to thrive, by actively promoting entrepreneurship, business networking and seminars through weekly events and conferences.
Strategic position
As an island province of Indonesia, Bali is in a good strategic position to attract IT talent, entrepreneurs and investments from Jakarta or Bandung, which have more mature IT infrastructure and investing communities. The greater Indonesian market also presents growth potential for Bali-based tech start-ups to tap into, or the location could be used as a launch pad to access the rest of Asia.
Bali might be an ideal haven in which to come up with new innovationsbut if the start-ups want to scale up, there are also limitations to overcome.
"They need to maintain and attract more IT resources to Bali, set up good business connections in other Indonesia cities and internationally, provide competitive customer service and support from their location," Yanna Dharmasthira, research director at Gartner, told CNBC in an email interview.
"Bali is somewhat remote in nature, compared to other cities, and the travelling expenses in and out of Bali should also be considered," she said.

"The island of gods" still has some way to go before claiming the title of Asia's Silicon Valley, but it is nonetheless a great middle ground for digital entrepreneurs to work in a beautiful, non-urban environmentand still be close to modern comforts and small luxuries.
CITATION FROM CNBC:http://goo.gl/rYk9Df