Danny Oei Wirianto is the chairman of Merah Puth Incubator, Indonesia's first tech and digital incubator. He is also the Co-founder at MindTalk, Evangelist at Kaskus Networks, Founder and Partner at Klix Digital, and CEO at SemutApi Colony. As a successful CEO of a lot of companies and also an investor, he shared his stories to beSUCCESS readers, showing his passions for helping as many business colleagues as possible and create values with them.
Hello, Danny. Please say hello and introduce yourself briefly to be SUCCESS readers!
My name is Danny Oei Wirianto, I am Co-founder of www.mindtalk.com (“Mindtalk”). Mindtalk is a social interest based website where people can share and connect their interests. I am also CEO of MCM group that owns several publishers such as Lintas.Me, Dailysocial.net, Infokost.net, Bolalob.com, Krazymarket.com and also 3 agencies: Klix, Semutapi and MediaXAsia
What is your background story before running your own companies?
I came from a working class family, I can say out family is not a privileged one. I remember in junior high school, that I had to save my lunch money for a week to buy a KFC meal on Saturday with my friends. What a sad life for a teenager who lived among many other rich kids. From that moment, I committed to change my destiny, I don’t want my kids experience what I experienced in my childhood.
I can consider myself lucky, because my dad worked so hard and dedicated his life for education of his children. After I graduated from high school, I asked my dad to allow me to study in USA, even though he cannot actually afford it. However, he came up with enough money for me for a year of school, living and a plane ticket. My dad told me after a year that I would be on my own. I then studied in Kendall College of art and design, in Michigan, USA. I took illustration and painting as my major. I studied to become a conventional artist. I paint, I draw, I sculpt, I did all the training to become an artist. Luckily I got a scholarship for my tuition.
In order for me to continue my education and pay living cost in USA, outside scholarship, I had to work part time and also sell my painting to survive. My first real job was an office boy. I was so happy to get that job. It taught me a lot of things. One thing that I learned, do not work with our muscles, but work with our brain. It pays more. 🙂
My first job after graduated from college was as Digital Artist in Adobe Inc. I got accepted because of the website I created. And the funniest thing is that I learned it from a book called “HTML 1.0 for Dummies” which was on Sale. I never realized that book changed my life forever.
My professional career went further until finally my last job was a Creative Director for a company called agency.com. A multi national e-business company, that handled big brands such as NIKE, Compaq, Grainger, British Airways, LG, and etc. I was lucky again when I was assigned to open a branch in new country, South Korea. So I moved there for six months and trained local people the skill set for the company’s business. From there, I learned on how to manage, to traine and to understand how important a process in the company is.
After my assignment in Seoul, South Korea, I quit my job and do freelance works for 2 months. I collected enough money to dare myself to start my own e-business agency in Chicago, USA, called SemutApi Colony (translation Fire-Ants Colony) with 3 partners, Ferdinand Sinaduma, Verdi Solaiman and Farah Sayeed.
I guess what inspired me at that moment was the memory of hard childhood and the feeling of wanting to help many people by creating job opportunities, inspired me to open up my own company. I am lucky to be able to fulfill my vision. Thanks to Antonny liem, Herman Kwok, Martin Hartono, Andrew Darwis, Ken Dean and many mores that willing to accept me as their partners in several business ventures.
What do you think that made you the person who you are now? What was your own strong point that helped you to become a successful entrepreneur and also an investor?
My tough childhood, parents and family and also the education that I studied, made me the person I am now. The beauty of being an artist is that you see everything in detail and the school taught me to be more experimental. So I experiment a lot of new things, I am not afraid make a mistakes.
I don’t have any strongest point, I think I have several average ones. My strong points are my curiousity, instinct to see opportunity, open mind with new ideas, being passionate and also attention to details. These help me to decide and take actions quickly. When I work, I do it with my heart, so all the details and experiments feels all fun for me.
You are the co-founder at Mindtalk, Chairman at Merah Puth Inc, Evangelist at Kaskus Networks, founder and partner at Klix Digital, and CEO and Founder at SemutApi Colony. It is really hard to manage only one company, but you are actually leading a lot and also being successful. What’s your own secret? How could you manage all these things?
In order to be successful you need to have a great team. I am blessed and lucky to meet with great people. My partners and my directors are so good in their skills and surpass my skills in those areas. The key is to manage a small team which in this case 8 peoples (partners and directors) that I work closely with and give them trusts to make decisions and do take actions. When you micro manage and distrust your peers, you will fail.
Please explain a little about Merah Puth Incubator. What do you want to achieve through your company?
The Merah Putih Inc. name is inspired from Indonesia National flag, Red (Merah) and White (putih). Red symbolizes blood, for our company, red color represents passion. White symbolizes purity, for our company represents trust.
What we want to achieve here is to create the leading websites in different categories in Indonesia, even regionally. We want to grow together with the founders that we partner with and create value and growth.
As incubators, we like to invest and work with passionate founders and when we do business we have to trust each other. We put faith on them and they put their faith on us. So trust has to be equally created from each side.
We want to know about the business system of Merah Puth Incubator. In what way do you support the fellow startups and make an ecosystem to grow them?
We have 4 categories that we are operating. Community based, Ecommerce, Mobile and Game. Normally each start up will go rounds of reviews from our team. We select the start up companies very carefully. Once we agree to incubate the start up, we will help in the areas which are not their strength, we help them grow as a company. We support by helping them in getting office space, human resource management, technology, financial management, access of funding, marketing & PR, and we plug them into our websites ecosystem.
As a chairman of the Merah Puth Incubator, I think you would have a lot of interest in the companies in Asia. Then, what do you think of Korean business and startups?
I think Korean start up has a unique talents and companies, in general I love the way Koreans work, very hard working and they are able to adapt with the current trend and also create new trends. I think if there is an opportunity for me to work with Korean start up that I find interesting, I never say never. So yes, I would love to work with Korean startups. I am interested to enter Asia market in general, and Korean market is one of the interesting ones.
If so, do you have any plans for incubating or investing to Korean startup companies?
Lastly, what do you think that Korean startup companies and venture entrepreneurs need to be successful in global market?
I think Korea has a lot to offer. From my little experience of living in Korea and some of my understanding of the Korean market behavior. Due to its country’s small size, Korean startup companies need to think regionally and expand into Asian market in general.
When you try to gain market share, we have to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the markets that we try to enter. We need to understand the market behavior of each country. For example, internet connection speed in Korea is the fastest in the world, so your design with heavy pictures might not work in other countries such as Indonesia.
My one last advice, please take one market at a time until you have enough features, contents and critical mass to start penetrating globally.