Mid Nineties: Kodapri Komindo

In the mid-nineties the economy all across South East Asia was hotter than an active volcano and just about ready to go pyroclastic. I was living in Jakarta at the time, and the communication industry was definitely the jewel of commerce.

At that time Hotmail had just come out as a fantastic new service, privately owned at that time, offering free email to anyone who signed up. All they had to do was tolerate a few advertisements on the screen as they read and wrote their messages to friends and family across the world. 

It seemed so simple at the time. It was revolutionary.

While Hotmail use exploded in the West, relative to the population size of South East Asia it was moving along… briskly at best.

The problem: in a country of well over 200 million people like Indonesia, a relatively small percentage of the population had computers. A few more than that could get access to them at Internet Cafés, but really the technology adoption was at a fundamentally lower level.

Realizing this problem had a potentially game changing solution, I gathered together a team and developed the idea of offering free, advertising supported voicemail. While not everyone had a phone, almost everyone from the big city to the small village could get to a phone booth or store to make a call, and local or toll free calls were relatively affordable.

I put together and developed the entire team and technology stack needed to implement such a solution on a large scale with an initial capacity plan for 50,000 users as proof of concept, and a marketing plan that targeted growth to over 1 million users within the first year.

We, the team, set this up to run as a multinational joint venture brining in hardware suppliers from the US and Sweden to partner with Satalindo and Indosat two of the major telecom players in Indonesia.

The players in Asia are many, and the economy growing at a near melt down pace. Almost any idea with a good business model will find fertile ground. It was a great time to be there, and will remain a significant part of my history.