Embracing transformation in the Indonesia startup arena

A brief review of the trends and predictions in the world of startups and investments in Indonesia

Antler Indonesia

February 1, 2024
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In the dynamic realm of startups and technology, the recent wave of layoffs has not only cast a spotlight on the individuals affected but also on the entire ecosystem within Indonesia. This challenging period serves as a tribulation, testing not just the resilience of employees but presenting a formidable challenge for the companies themselves.

According to Tech In Asia, since late 2022, the technology sector in Southeast Asia has grappled with a tech winter, with layoffs surging in Q4/2022, particularly within startups in Indonesia and Singapore. The aftermath of these widespread layoffs has flooded the talent market with skilled individuals. Despite soaring salary standards over the past five years, the market struggles to swiftly adapt to these changes. Generous compensation practices during mass layoffs have kept salary levels elevated, creating a conundrum for startups grappling with a funding slowdown amidst a high-salary market, thereby posing significant challenges for founders.

"From my perspective, layoffs often occur when a company initially fixates on aggressively pursuing growth objectives. Consequently, when the inevitable shift towards profitability arises due to over-hiring and a shift in focus, various developments and business units are halted. This, in turn, leads to the consequential implication of layoffs." - Agung Bezharie Hadinegoro, Partner for Antler Indonesia.

While some layoffs are strategic, others are widespread, contributing to the ongoing challenges in the tech workforce. The uncertain 2024 IPO market and difficulties in startup fundraising further indicate that layoffs are likely to persist for the foreseeable future.

Crunchbase data indicates that, despite a slight reduction in the scale of tech layoffs compared to the peak in late 2022 and early 2023, the tech job market remains challenging, with over 300,000 tech workers in the U.S. losing their jobs since early 2022.

Insights from AC Ventures and Bain & Company reveal a substantial 62 percent year-on-year decline in total venture capital investment by companies in Indonesia as of Q3/2023. Concurrently, the number of deals has plummeted by 81.7 percent during the same period. The recent report highlights a visible decline in funding, unveiling a challenging view for startups and investors alike. The call to action is clear - a comprehensive strategy is essential, a collaborative endeavor to breathe life back into investment activities.

Navigating Transformation: Paving the Way Towards Positivity

Skepticism and less convincing ideologies, seemingly incompatible with the essence of startups, have long been part of the Indonesian startup landscape. This skepticism is not an anomaly; it is deeply rooted in the innovative nature of startups. Innovation, by its very nature, invites skepticism and challenges the status quo.

In the Indonesian context, the perception of layoffs has evolved from setbacks to integral components of a transformative journey. The current state of affairs, far from being inherently negative, signifies a necessary stride towards a more refined transformation in the future. It is a testament to the adaptability and resilience inherent in the startup DNA.

The predominant narrative has shifted from an exclusive fixation on growth to a more nuanced exploration of profitability. Startups and venture capital firms are adjusting their strategies, placing emphasis not on growth at any cost, but on sustainable and strategically aligned expansion. This shift marks a departure towards a more balanced and enduring approach to success. As we usher in the year 2024, a global perspective reveals that the current tumultuous landscape is, in fact, a transformative process steering the startup world towards a brighter and more sustainable future.

Ready to launch your startup journey with us? Find out more about Antler in Indonesia here.

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Antler Indonesia

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