One of the most talked-about startups in South East Asia which secured a US$1.5 billion series E funding led by Tencent is GO-JEK. It started out as a motorcycle ride-hailing mobile app before expanding to a full on-demand service platform which includes logistics, ticket booking, cleaning service, and digital payments. As of 2018, GO-JEK operates across fifty cities in Indonesia while also on the process of expanding to other nations in South East Asia. In Vietnam, GO-JEK’s services will be provided by Go-Viet, while in Thailand, it will be provided by a local unit GET. Techsauce is privileged to interview Andre Soelistyo, GO-JEK’s President, on the expansion of GO-JEK into South East Asia and his views on the fierce competition in the markets.

GO-JEK has now become a platform providing many services that are not ride-hailing service, what's the biggest challenge in expanding to new services and what does GO-JEK do to counter that?

The GO-JEK app is the pioneer on-demand lifestyle app, which from humble beginnings now has 18 different services in Indonesia encompassing everything from ride-hailing to payments to services like massages and beauty treatments. Scaling our app so that it can handle the diverse range of services has been a continuous challenge, which we are nevertheless able to overcome through our advanced technology, which is amongst the best in the world, as well as our exceptional talents.

What's the breakdown number of users in each of GO-JEK's services up to this date?

Whilst we will not go into exact numbers, we are proud to say that the GO-JEK app has been downloaded more than 98 million times in Indonesia since it was launched in 2015.

As GO-JEK expands outside of Indonesia, what are your views on the Vietnam and Thailand's markets? What makes these markets attractive to you?

We chose to expand GO-JEK to places where our ethos would have the most impact. In Vietnam and Thailand, we realised that people and businesses there were faced with many of the same urban mobility issues that drove us to establish GO-JEK back home in Indonesia. Consumers are happiest when they have a choice and at the moment, people in Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines do not feel that they are getting enough when it comes to ride-hailing. We hope that as we arrive in these new markets, we will quickly become everyone’s go-to lifestyle app.

There are several ride-hailing services such as Grab, Line and local service in Thailand, how do you think GO-JEK could win in this market?

Competition is essential for any market to thrive and we look forward to being part of that in the countries we enter throughout Southeast Asia. Our strategy is to combine our world-class technology with the in-depth market knowledge and expertise of the local teams to create local businesses that truly understand consumers. We will continue to focus on delivering the best in class product for the Thai market.

What kind of services will GET provide in Thailand?

Our app is highly localised and thus our approach is to respond to local needs. We will launch with ride hailing services and deliveries and will look into expanding the number of services we provide, depending on local demand.

Why do you choose to use Go-Viet and GET instead of using the GO-JEK name in Vietnam and Thailand?

Together with the local co-founders of GO-VIET and GET, we believed that it was important to have local brands to reflect the nature of the highly localised app. We believe that these local brands will work best in these markets.

Do you have any advice for startups who want to expand into South East Asia?

We believe that it is crucial to have an in-depth understanding and appreciation of each market, not just in terms of the challenges and opportunities in each market, but also of the daily lives of the people that live there. For GO-JEK, achieving this not only requires in-country teams who have the knowledge and experience to make the business successful, but also those who have the same values of creating positive social impact for as many people as possible.

What is the trend of the Sharing Economy in SEA? Do you think there's still more room for newcomers?

Southeast Asia is one of the world's fastest growing regions thanks to the expanding digital economy, which in turn have enabled the sharing economy to substantially improve the welfare of individuals in the informal sector, including drivers and SME merchants who are part of GO-JEK's ecosystem. There is always room for newcomers and innovation, and GO-JEK has always been a component of healthy competition in the market. At the moment, consumers of the sharing economy, including those in Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines do not feel that they are getting enough choice. We hope that our presence will provide the welcome competition these Southeast Asian markets need to thrive.

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