Medan's startup players urged to change their mindsets

  • Medan’s startup ecosystem is still three to four years behind Jakarta
  • Has seen local startup’s change and grow in quality


Medan's startup players urged to change their mindsets


EV [email protected] (Clapham) is a community workspace located in the heart of Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia. It’s founder and angel investor Chris Angkasa speaks to Digital News Asia about the local startup ecosystem.

Chris invests in private equity and was inspired by founders who have different visions and by how they take care of their employees and community.

“But one thing is missing, you only get to listen to their story. Then I started to invest in the seed stage of a small company. Even though it is risky, you have a big influence on how the company is being shaped. So, you can not only hear the story, but shape the story.”

In 2011, he decided to dive into angel investment, and become a full-time angel investor. When it comes to making investment, Chris says that he does not set mandatory verticals.

“But, I prefer the things that I have had an exposure to before. As an example, offline businesses that utilise online platforms to run the business.”

Above and beyond investment, Chris says that he provides mentoring and coaching.

“Personally, I think that you do not have to be an investor to be able to impact a business. I do a lot mentoring of founders, and some of them already know what they want to do, so they do not need help so much. But at the seed stage, they might need more guidance so we share experiences and network.”

He says that he has had experiences with founders receiving investments but not getting back afterwards.

“So, before making any deals, make sure everything is clear. Even gender differences could affect how we work. For men, we tend to be more systematic, while women need to consider what will be the right thing to do, so you need to spend more time. But at the end, good startup founders are those who will give feedback and prove whether they are right or wrong.”

As an angel investor, all his portfolios were based in Jakarta. However, he married and decided to stay in Medan. In 2015, he started Clapham to promote local startups.

“Our main vision is to make Medan a better city. Although I am aware that the chance of failure is quite high, but we still do it.”

Clapham was named Clapham Collective before it announced the closing of its merger with EV Hive on November 2017. The co-working space also has four active members including Letterist,, Lightdiv, and Chris says that he is planning to add more branches of EV [email protected] at different locations in Medan.

Medan’s startup ecosystem

When asked about Medan’s startup growth, Chris thinks that the city is still three to four years behind Jakarta. “But compared to a year ago, we can see the quality of the startups becoming better.”

He explains that local startups focus on food, education, and agriculture. “Most of them start on-demand businesses, but it is not as simple as that. But personally, I have not seen any startup here that potentially will become a unicorn yet. Even if they can grow to into a million-dollar company, it will be a good growth.”

Chris says that he faces challenges in creating awareness about startups and the co-working space industry in Medan.

“People’s mindset is the big problem. We try hard to get people to share and engage with us and to start learning and doing things. Because in running a startup, you have to do more which means you cannot not just sit from nine to five, you have to keep learning.

“For Medan people, a lot of things are still measured by money. If you are not learning, but you can earn more money, it will be okay, and vice versa.”

He is unable to comment on what the local government has done to support the ecosystem but, he thinks that the capital government pays attention in it.

“As players, we need to provide and hold more events to create awareness, and we need to prove that every time we receive a profit, by providing platform or space for the right community to hold workshops. If they are happy with the results, they will keep doing it.”

“Unfortunately, although we can ask people to attend, we still have to rely on people in this field to boost and encourage each other.”

Even EV [email protected] community and space manager Cindy Lailani did not even know how to explain co-working spaces to her parents.

“So, we need to get the people that believe in us. Build the community and people will come to the event and see the best results from it. We rely very much on word of mouth.”

Chris feels that the most important thing is the founder. If they have vision and passion, they will have a great potential to grow.

“Keep growing and find more horizons by learning and having an open mindset to grow more. Good founders have the ability to learn and grow as a person. I think it will take another two to three years for us to catch up.”


Related Stories:

EV Hive merges with Clapham Collective

Indonesia’s EV Hive raises US$3.5mil in Pre Series A funding

 Rework raises US$3mil in Pre-Series A funding

Colony’s serviced office space aims to increase employee wellbeing


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