"Don't waste time waiting for inspiration. Begin, and inspiration will find you.”
- Achmad Zaky
With education and achievements, Achmad Zaky puts them together with his experience to improve the society and culture by introducing something that wasn't a mainstream at the time.
He believes that a business could never be separated from hard work and dedication, and it's the hard work that made him one of the most successful online entrepreneur in Indonesia.
Zaky is the founder of Bukalapak, the customer-to-customer (C2C) online marketplace dedicated for small to medium-sized businesses. Based in Indonesia, Bukalapak was one of the firsts of its kind, and successfully carved its name as one of the largest online market in the region.
With Bukalapak, Zaky was named as one of Asia's top 10 technopreneurs under 30.
Achmad Zaky was born on August 24th, 1968 in Sragen, Central Java, Indonesia. When he was still in primary school, Zaky was already familiar with the world of technology. And it was in 1997 that his uncle gave him a computer and programming books that introduced him to coding.
Zaky grew up loving and learning computers since his young age, and it was programming sciences that attracted his passion.
When he attended Public High School 1 in Solo, he represented his school in the National Science Olympic event in the field of computer science. Zaky managed to become the champion at national level.
In 2004, Zaky continued his studies by attending Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB). Majoring Information Technology, he achieved a 4.00 GPA during his first semester. While attending university, Zaky founded SHARE Global Student Think-Tank which is a student organization in ITB. He also established the Entrepreneur Club ITB, or later known as Technoentrepreneur Club (TEC ITB). He was also active in the Amateur Radio Club (ARC) ITB.
During his time at the ITB, Zaky had won several national competitions, one of them was achieving the second place in Indosat Wireless Innovation Contest in 2007. At the competition, he created MobiSurveyor, a software for fast counting in a survey. Zaky also won the Merit Award at the INAICTA competition (Indonesia ICT Awards) in 2008.
Also in 2008, he received a scholarship from the government of the United States to study at Oregon State University for two months. Then in 2009, he was appointed to represent ITB in competitions Harvard National Model United Nations.
Achmad Zaky's early career began when he was still studying at ITB. His early works include a project to make a quickcount software for the national election, which he sold it for Rp1.5 million (about $100) to one of the national television stations in Indonesia.
He founded a technology consulting firm named Suitmedia, a consulting company in the field of computer technology. With Suitmedia, he got jobs to build IT systems for various companies in Indonesia.
At that given time, Zaky lived in the society where entrepreneurship has become a trend. Zaky thought of something that he wanted to deliver to many people. While hanging out with his friends, all of a sudden, he had an idea to make a noodle stall. The money that he earned from competitions, he spent it all to build that business.
However, the venture didn't go well and at the end it led to bankruptcy.
"I feel traumatized and scared due to the failure, but then I thought that this is like school, the cost is expensive, I believe there is a valuable lesson here."
After failing his business, Achmad Zaky decided to set up an online shopping website. A simple one so it can be used by many people, for free. This was the initial idea for Bukalapak. His mission for the company, is to advance small to medium-sized businesses in Indonesia via the internet.
Zaky founded Bukalapak with Nugroho Herucahyono and Fajrin Rasyid in 2010.
It took this two months to build Bukalapak's core website. When it was done, Zaky was ready to market it. Easier said that done, there weren't many people that wanted to join Bukalapak. Zaky had to go down to various brick-and-mortar marketplace and shops to invite and also persuade merchants to open their own shops on his website.
While Bukalapak is free to use, those merchants and sellers weren't that interested in joining. The main reasons were because online shops weren't yet a mainstream, and they didn't want to learn new things about the internet because they didn't want to bothered with by the variety of things the internet has to give.
At that time, there weren't that many internet savvy people in Indonesia.
This issue didn't stop Zaky in promoting Bukalapak. He continued to educate merchants, telling them the many possibilities they can have with the ability to reach more people. With the help of the internet, Zaky believes that Bukalapak can help them reach the increasing demand previously impossible for them using traditional brick-and-mortar method.
After multiple and extensive marketing reach. Zaky succeeded in getting more traders to use Bukalapak. Most of them were small traders who claimed turnover and hoping to increase their revenue. Inevitably in a relatively short amount of time traders claimed turnover rises.
From the result of his hard work, Zaky concluded that he would dedicate his efforts on Bukalapak. His focus was to reach more entrepreneurs of small businesses because he saw them as potential candidates. It didn't take long until Bukalapak hit its first milestone with 10,000 merchants.
Bukalapak began as a side project. But its growth increased tremendously once Zaky saw the potential in e-commerce business.
Year after year, Bukalapak was showing a significant growth. In a day, there were more than Rp 5 billion worth of transactions on the e-commerce site. That high figure attracted foreign investors such as Softbank and Sequoia Capital, two investors that were also investors Tokopedia, Alibaba, Google, Facebook and various other startups.
At first, Zaky was very strict. When the amount of funding was offered by Softbank, he refused because at first, he thought that Softbank was to acquire Bukalapak. After knowing that Softbank just wanted a 15 percent stake of the company while maintenance and ownership is still Zaky's, he accepted the offer.
Softbank that saw Zaky's skills and knowledge to be exceptional, made him as one of the company's representatives Softbank to conduct a comparative study in Japan for startups. Since then, Zaky became more open-minded, in which he saw it beneficial in managing Bukalapak more professionally.
Bukalapak also received several funding offers from 500 Startups, Batavia Incubator, IMJ Investment, and Elang Mahkota Teknologi Tbk (EMTEK Group).
Nowadays, Bukalapak has grown fast. Its popularly is known and recognized as one of Indonesia's successful business and one of the largest C2C online marketplace dedicated to small to medium-sized businesses. Bukalapak presided over $80 million in transactions in 2014, with the number increasing year after year.
When Bukalapak got traction and thrive as one of the largest C2C online marketplace, Achmad Zaky married Diajeng Lestari in October 17, 2010. As an entrepreneur, Zaky is also a visionary as he transmitted his visions of the online world to his wife.
Lestari who was saturated with her daily activities as an employee, finally decided to resign from her job. Together, the two set up a special website dedicated to Muslims and hijabs. The business is called Hijup, and was founded in 2011.
Zaky was very supportive of his wife's business.
The couple was then blessed with a daughter named Laiqa Anzani. Her name "LAIQA" was used as a name for the Lifestyle Magazine for Muslim women wearing hijabs.