Techsauce Global Summit 2018 Panel discussion

It is not surprising to see mobile applications launching daily, and it is no longer a rocket science task to build a mobile app these days. What’s more difficult and the more essential area of focus is to acquire a massive user base while remaining a top player in the market. With this scenario in mind, many startups are leveraging their existing user base to grow their platforms vertically.

The important questions to ask at this point in time would be: How can platformation help entrepreneurs drive their businesses in growing market like Asia? What business opportunities are there in the utilization of platformation? And, what challenges will businesses face and how to counter those? Today on Day 1 of Techsauce Global Summit 2018, we have experts in platformation businesses to discuss on this panel discussion. Panel discussion speakers include: Grace Yun Xia from Jungle Ventures, Ariya Banomyong from LINE Thailand, Arakin Rakchittapoke from AIS and Ajey Gore from GoJek.

How is a platform different from (mobile) app?

Ajey Gore, CTO of GoJek, speaking on platformation

Ariya: Take LINE for example. LINE began as only a messaging app; after its recent 7th anniversary, LINE has transformed from just being an app to a platform with a big ecosystem consisting of LINE TV, LINE Giftshop, [email protected], LINE Games, LINE Pay and many other purposes. It is now a platform started from user base.

Ajey: Similar for GoJek which started only as a ride-sharing and food-sharing company, GoJek first started running on an unstructured market. The early stage app attracted a large user base because it provided so much convenience for people. People forgetting stuffs at home and want them delivered, people wanting food delivered to their office, GoJek solved all these hassles. From analyzing these consumer behavior, GoJek consistently finds opportunity to tap into new untouched market.

Why do startups transform themselves into platforms?

Grace: There were many times big-scale app businesses realize that they cannot function and sustain on their own. Take WeChat as example; WeChat transformed from closed-loop to open-loop startup, by partnering up with different startups to provide services in transportation, payment, ride-sharing and many other services. Businesses need to partner with other businesses to sustain, but it’s also important to realize that we cannot partner with just anyone or everyone.

Services provided by GoJek (Photo credit:
Alamanda Santoso)

Ajey: We were just experimenting with our business model, and we spotted an opportunity through our massive user base – we had over 30 million downloads in January 2017, and now in 2018, GoJek has 18 on-demand services on one platform, with two additional services by end of this year. GoJek plans on expanding to different countries in South East Asia. But we are not there to compete, but rather, to help local startups and local people.

Ariya: Recently, Line launched a new service called LINE Job, which is developed by a local Thai startup. This is an example of an effective use of platformation. Platform should not be a goal, but it will happen when a company successfully created an ecosystem with large user base.

Arakin: I am from a telecom company which deals with horizontal platform. I can say that banks will go mobile-first very soon, giving importance to big data analytics. In doing so, banks will need to utilize platformation.

Is the future going to be platform for everything?

Grace Yun Xia, Principal at Jungle Ventures

Grace: As a VC, we expect startups to be sustainable and able to stand on their own, and a successful adoption of platformation is one of the keys to that. It’s always exciting to see startups partnering up with big corporations and such. But again, not every startup has the necessity to become a platform if there is no market for it. Likewise, VCs can’t invest in every startup and big corporations also can’t partner up with all startups. It is always important to consider the compatibility between two parties, or else, it can waste a lot of time and resources.

Ajey: GoJek’s platformation has created a big social impact in Indonesia, with the purpose to connect people to something – for GoJek, convenience. For this case, platformation certainly benefits both GoJek and the customers. However, not every app needs to evolve to be a platform, for some, it would even be destructive to do so. There is always a unique trait to each country’s market, and startups need to embrace that to tackle the pain point of the society.

There are a lot of issues with data and privacy, what do platform businesses do with the data they receive?

Ariya: We use data in every way to analyze consumer behavior in order to better improve our service and customer experience.

GoJek: I agree with Ariya. We don’t use data we get from customers for any purposes besides to improve our services and their user experience.

Are you looking up at trends from Silicon Valley? or do you think Asia will be leading the trend in innovation from now on?

Arakin: It is not that important to look for innovation at specific places. Innovation always emerges from exposure to problems.

Ariya: Now, I look up to China who is a leader in driving forward large-scale platformation.

Want to hear more about hot topic discussion? Come and watch the talk live tomorrow at Techsauce Summit Day 2!


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