By @. We’ve been following the progress of Wempy Dyocta Koto since we encountered him at unBound Singapore in May. Since then he has gone on from strength to strength and in last fortnight he just won “Asia’s Most Outstanding Leader Award”
#Fortune40Under40 Multi-Award-Winning Chairman, CEO Wardour and Oxford and Investor at companies in Europe, America, Asia & Australia.
What’s your background?
I was born in a village called Padang Panjang in Indonesia, but migrated to Sydney as a toddler. Undertaking my entire education in Australia, I graduated with a Bachelor’s in Communications from the University of Technology, Sydney, and Master’s in International Relations from the University of Sydney. I kickstarted my career at American Express where I worked across departments, learning the fundamentals of the consumer cards and merchant businesses. Startups were conceptually uncommon in late 1990’s Australia, but reflecting on my career, I can certainly state that I learnt many startup principles from American Express. The card business – whether launching a Personal, Gold, Platinum or Centurion card has the same startup principles of scaling, acquisition, loyalty, engagement and retention. A lot of my startup education can easily be attributed to my corporate years. In 2001, I transferred from American Express Sydney to American Express Singapore, and thereafter leaped from client world into agency life. I worked at communications giant Ogilvy & Mather and continued my career within the WPP group for 8 years at Ogilvy, Wunderman and Young & Rubicam. I worked on major global brand advertising campaigns, through to direct and digital marketing initiatives. I witnessed the fears, controversies, excitement and forecasts, as the world and corporate budgets shifted from traditional to digital media. I then migrated from Singapore to Hong Kong and London with WPP. My corporate career ended at San Francisco as a Global Business Director.
In 2009, I braved the storms of the global financial crisis to set up my own consultancy, established on the corner of Wardour and Oxford streets in London. Hence, my company name. Setting up the business was the craziest and wisest career decision of my life. Whilst everybody was searching for security from the all-consuming crisis, I dived deep into unchartered territories, mistakes and opportunities. Against so many odds, twists, turns, big failures and little successes, the company thrived and stands as a testament to the ideal that we should all invest in our wildest hopes.
I am so very honoured and humbled to win the "Most Outstanding Leader in Asia" Award at the 2016 Beacons of Asia Ceremony in Singapore. pic.twitter.com/AvE8gL5I88
— Wempy Dyocta Koto (@wempydyoctakoto) December 2, 2016
Has it been a logical progression to what you do now?
Whilst my 20 year career was centered on supporting corporate giants such as Microsoft, Sony, Samsung and SAP launch their products internationally, I grew fond of the startup movement during my tenure at San Francisco. I don’t think anybody who arrives at San Francisco leaves unaffected by the whole Silicon Valley phenomenon.
Professionally, there is nothing linear or logical about my career. If my youthful vision of life materialised, I should be comfortably inclined on a leather seat at the corner office in a Manhattan skyscraper right now. However, that aspiration was disrupted by the equally beautiful and disastrous world of startups.
I would not change this leap from Goliath to Samson, though. The startup world is where I now draw much of my current inspiration. There is something very democratic about starting up. By no means am I saying that equality or equity exists universally in the community, but lets just say that the glass ceiling is less visible, and that limitations are less pronounced.
I love underdogs, and I believe that great ideas and great teams can come from all corners of the world. The human imagination plus an ant’s executional persistence and a cockroach’s crafty resilience, is this era’s gold and oil. Startups are our generation’s most democratic path to tremendous wealth.
Beyond my own company and investments, I now love mentoring and advising startups from all around the world. I take pride in the fact that sharing my failures, success, learnings and insights can accelerate the success of others and the advancement of the world.
What will you be speaking about at the forthcoming #unBoundGlobal event in London?
It is always an honour to speak at #unBoundGlobal. Thousands of the world’s leaders, founders, entrepreneurs, corporate executives and investors will fly into London for two days of major immersion into the constantly changing world of technology, business and innovation.
In addition to myself, there’ll be speeches by HRH Prince Andrew The Duke of York, who is instrumentally promoting entrepreneurship across Great Britain with [email protected], a startup competition with finalists pitching at St. James’s Palace. Also, Sir Martin Sorrell, the Founder and CEO of the world’s largest communications network WPP will also share insights from his decades at the top.
On a personal front, the #unBoundGlobal leadership team have asked me to appear twice on stage at London this year.
Firstly, I will be speaking on the main stage about Asia’s rise from a continent of imitation to a continent of innovation. This is a matter of great pride for me, as I was born in third-world Asia, which has now become one of the world’s hottest beds of innovation. The leap from importation to imitation, and now innovation means that the balance of power and balance of possibilities has levelled up for the continent that holds 60% of the world’s population. I aim to share case studies, insights and lessons from Asia, which by all means is not homogeneous. The economies, cultures, technologies, entrepreneurial landscapes and economic miracles of Japan, Taiwan and Korea, vastly differ from Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos.
Secondly, I will hold a one-hour presentation on the “Emerge” stage, designed for new entrepreneurs , startups, grinders and hustlers. The “emerge” phase is where most of the brilliance of entrepreneurship resides. The excitement of new dreams, new ideas, new strategies, new paths, new teams and new situations. Magic! I am currently designing the format for my presentation, but the topic will be universal so all entrepreneurs can relate, learn and gain from the session.
My mission to democratise education across the archipelago and far reaching cities, towns and villages of Indonesia continues. pic.twitter.com/Hd5jR9ZqyW
— Wempy Dyocta Koto (@wempydyoctakoto) November 24, 2016
Why is Indonesia a great place to do business?
Indonesia is the biggest invisible thing on planet Earth.
The archipelago spans the same distance between New York to California, with 17,000 islands. However, if you were to ask Europeans, Americans and almost anybody on earth to locate the country, I am certain there will be a high rate of error.
Unknown to most people, Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country. China has 1.367 billion people, India has 1.251 billion people, the United States has 321 million people and Indonesia has 255 million people – just ahead of Brazil’s 204 million people.
Indonesia is a part of the world’s G20 – Group of 20 most powerful economies. It is the world’s 16th most powerful economy, and will be the 7th most powerful economy by 2030. McKinsey forecasts that by 2030, Indonesia will be the world’s 7th-largest economy, overtaking Germany and the United Kingdom.
Here are current statistics:
Indonesia globally ranks 6th in terms of internet users – just behind China, India, US, Brazil and Japan.
Television reaches 99.8% of the population, whilst the internet has a huge growth potential, standing at 42.5% penetration.
Indonesians spend most media time with television and the internet, with TV leading 3X versus the internet.
Indonesia aims to be a mobile-first, if not mobile-only market. 40% of users access mobile internet vs 20% for computer
Social networking is the most popular digital activity, ranking 5th globally for mobile social networking
Less than 1% of total Indonesia advertsing spend is digital, with mobile internet ad spend at 27% of digital ad spend in 2016 and 61% by 2020.
Indonesia is a giant in the global economy, and with digital proliferation, amplification and democratisation, the nation is becoming less and less invisible.
What tech trends are you currently most excited about?
We are living in the greatest era of human technology, where greater proliferation and democratisation of education, competition, collaboration and capital are conspiring to help more individuals create their own ‘ding in the universe’. This pursuit for legacy in the entrepreneurial community is pushing what is possible in the areas of artificial intelligence, advanced machine learning, big data, intelligent apps, intelligent things, virtual reality, augmented reality, digital twinning, mesh and blockchain. There is much to be excited about the future. However, one dimension that I believe has huge potential is conversational systems. Conversational systems use multiple modalities such as sight and sound to communicate across the digital device mesh of sensors, internet-of-things and appliances. Whilst basic conversational systems could be a user asking a device what the time is, or what the $US/IDR exchange rate is, I am more hopeful of what conversational systems can achieve in other areas such as law enforcement. Imagine collecting an oral testimony from a crime witness, then generating a sketch of the subject – not just based on words, but also based on content, tone, eye movement, body language and other gestures of human communication. From suspects, to witnesses, accomplices and victims, the process of crime investigation will take Sherlock Holmes into the digital era. There are obviously less weighty and more universal applications for conversational systems. However, I find technology to be best understood by what is happening today versus what will happen at the bleeding edge tomorrow. The result is the same, such as the conviction of a suspect. However, the new digital process will eliminate the current processes’ flaws and problems.
How vital is education in the world of entrepreneurship?
My fundamental belief is that the world’s greatest entrepreneurs are the world’s greatest learners.
Whether they are academically certified or not, is not central to the argument. The world has witnessed the impact of college dropouts like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Apple’s Steve Jobs, Dell’s Michael Dell, Oracle’s Larry Ellison, Uber’s Travis Kalanick and Microsoft’s Bill Gates, as well as university graduates such as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Google’s Sergey Brin, Google’s Larry Page, eBay’s Pierre Omidyar, Nike’s Phil Knight and Tesla’s Elon Musk.
What is fundamentally true about all of these entreprenueurs is that they are all devout learners. They studied their passion, craft, art and subject so intensely, delicately and intricately to become the world’s certified experts. You don’t become number one by ignorance. You become number one by faithfully studying your subject. Whether a person drops out or graduates from school or university is not completely linked to academic intelligence and capability. The education system is designed for some students to thrive and for others to struggle. Education is not just schools, universities, bricks and mortar. Education is a choice we must all make everyday, regardless of whether we are enrolled into an institution or not. Why do you learn? What do you read? Who do you talk to? How do you make sense of the world? How do you analyse problems? How do you critically think? How do you crystallise solutions? How do you communicate your doubts? How do you accept criticism? How do you share feedback? How do you respect the differences of others? How do you defend your beliefs? This is all education.
As I get older, my zest for learning increases. Everyday I am trying to make sense of the world we live in, and the world I want to leave behind. Technology, education, entrepreneurship, collaboration and participation all play a large part in the questions of our time, and the answers of our tomorrow.
Hello Singapore. New dreams, new investments, new home, new future and new direction. pic.twitter.com/dUNFXUVpIk
— Wempy Dyocta Koto (@wempydyoctakoto) October 22, 2016
Brief biography of Wempy
Earlier in his career in 2013, he attained one of the world’s most prestigious prizes, the Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Award, placing him in the hall of fame of Asia’s greatest entrepreneurs. He was also named by Fortune and Prestige magazines as one of Indonesia’s most powerful people, in its “40 Under 40” list.
Today Wempy is based between London and Jakarta, actively investing, advising and mentoring at the world’s leading incubators and accelerators. We talk to one of Asia’s most prolific entrepreneurs and investors, ahead of his fourth stage appearance at #unBoundGlobal, which will bring together thousands of founders, entrepreneurs, investors, executives and influencers from around the world to London’s technology hub.
On 17 November, 2016 at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore, Wempy Dyocta Koto was named “Asia’s Most Outstanding Leader” at the prestigious Beacons of Asia ceremony, which financially and qualitatively benchmarks CEOs of multimillion and multibillion dollar enterprises across the continent.