Revolutionizing The Two-Wheel Taxis As A Solution By Nadiem Makarim

Nadiem Makarim

"Anyone can steal your idea, but no one can steal your execution."

- Nadiem Makarim

We have seen both technology and transportation arrive into many places, but when it comes to Indonesia, especially its capital city Jakarta, the people need more than just the already available transportation methods or their gadgets to get them going on their relentless mobility.

In the city known for its traffic, Nadiem Makarim came with an answer, and that is with Gojek, an "Uber-like" transportation using the city's most popular public transportation method: motorcycle taxis known as ojek.

Using its mobile app, anyone can be the driver and anyone can be driven. In the crowded city of Jakarta, Gojek is a breeze to the tropical heat.

Early Life And Career

Nadiem Makarim was born in Singapore on July 4th, 1984. His father who comes from Pekalongan, Java, was a lawyer, and his mother who comes from Pasuruan, Java, was working on a non-profit organization. Makarim attended elementary school in Jakarta, and graduated senior high in Singapore.

Makarim then continued his studies to the U.S. taking International Relations in Brown University. For a year, he attended students foreign exchange in London Schools of Economics. He then continued his studies to Harvard Business School. Makarim graduated Master Business of Administration.

Before venturing to become an entrepreneur, Makarim has worked as an Management Consultant for Mckinsey & Company in Jakarta for three years. And as a start in business, he was the co-founder and the Managing Director of Zalora Indonesia before becoming the Chief Innovation Officer at Kartuku.

With his years of knowledge and experience, Makarim put his aim forward to found his own company.

The Idea For Gojek

The initial idea for Gojek came from a conversation between him and an ojek rider he knows. Makarim rarely use his car because of his high mobility, and Jakarta is pretty famous for its traffic. At times, he usually took 5 ojek rides a day.

Makarim chose to use ojek for his transportation because he feels safer with it. According to Makarim, the accident ratio using motorcycles is smaller if compared to using cars. Since he ever used ojek, he never had accidents like he had when using taxis where he experienced collisions twice. When driving his own car, he experienced three accidents. Using motorcycle, he only experienced once.

In the conversation with the ojek rider, he found out that ojek riders spend most their time waiting for customers. Not only that they have trouble in finding customers, the traffic in Jakarta was just getting worse that he thought there should be a solution to the problem.

"More than 70 percent of the time spent by ojek riders are wasted to wait for customers," said Makarim.

And on the customers' side, ojek's transportation aren't yet managed so comfort and safety weren't a 100 percent.

Jakarta needs a fast transportation, and a quick delivery method to help its citizens. And by "marrying" ojek services with mobile tech, Gojek is Makarim's answer. At the time, his venture has yet to be decided, but he did think to spend more of his time on Gojek, and to explore more ventures in the tech and social sphere.

The Gojek Phenomenon

The name "Gojek" is taken from the word "ojek" which is the method of public transportation using motorcycles popular in Jakarta. The chosen brand name has made the company easy to remember to the locals since ojek has been the popular transportation method before the economic crisis in Indonesia in 1998.

The Gojek service offers the flexibility and speed of a motorcycle, piggybacking the expansion of mobile devices using apps and the internet. The company works with ojek riders which are working under the company's flag. Similar to Uber which is popular in many countries,Gojek riders are working "on their free will".

In the first year, Gojek has had a rough start. As a brand which was relatively unknown, he had difficult times in recruiting riders. Makarim often spent his time on the road to promote and recruit riders on his own. He spent many times talking to them while paying them packs of cigarettes and coffee. But since then, as the brand's name goes famous, Gojek's popularity rises fast and steady.

Nadiem Makarim - Sandiaga Uno - Gojek

Not only that the Jakarta and its satellite cities need a quick, cheap and reliable method of transportation, the citizens need the way to commute whenever they want. When cars aren't an option and neither do buses, motorcycles are. And Gojek is the service that many people are willing to use because the option for such flexibility, speed and price is somehow limited.

At first, Makamin's Gojek used manual system which include SMS and phone calls. After three years being founded in 2011, Makarim decided to quit his job entirely to focus on the company he co-founded with Michaelangelo Moran.

Makarim left Zalora Indonesia when his position was its Managing Director. For him, this is because he was eager to create his own company which he actually owns. After all, he is an entrepreneur at heart, and the temptation to build a startup for himself in Indonesia was just too great for him.

Makarim's company grew larger in 2014 when a Singapore-based company Northstar Group invested on Gojek. On that same year, two more companies: Redmart Limited and Zimplistic Pte Ltd., were also investing. With their investments, Gojek was able to give big promotions. Customers are asked for much less fare to others in the competition.

In 2015, Gojek became a massive boom when it first introduced its mobile apps to the masses. At the start, Gojek had 20 ojek riders, but as the company grows, in January 2015, Gojek had 1,000. In 2016, the number increased dramatically to over than 10,000 riders coming from many places in Indonesia. Customers came from many occupations and ages, from hundreds of thousands of individual users to more than 100 corporate customers.

So besides the B2C model, Gojek is also growing a B2B model which caters to e-commerce sites and corporate level services. For example, not only are drivers becoming dedicated cash-on-delivery agents for e-commerce ventures, they are also become sales agents to street kiosks.

Numerous of improvements and innovations are done to make more people use the service.

While there are many people are pro with the service, there are many who aren't. Nadiem Makarim's mobile-based transportation as an answer to solve the problem gets a lot of pressure from both the government and traditional transportation. Buses, taxis to even Bajaj since the availability of Gojek, has put a massive decrease to their income. Before that, Gojek riders had numerous clashes with traditional ojek riders for the same reason.

Gojek is considered the first startup Unicorn in Indonesia, after being valued at over $1 billion. It was also considered the first Decacorn in Indonesia, after being valued at over $10 billion in early 2019.


Nadiem Makarim at the Presidential Palace
Nadiem Makarim when he was summoned to the Presidential Palace on October 21st, 2019

In 2019, after Joko "Jokowi' Widodo won the second Presidential bid, Makarim was asked to join his cabinet.

The move comes after the President expressed his preferences to include professionals and millennials in his second-term team to boost the country’s economy.

As a result, Makarim said that he would resign from Gojek, the company he co-founded and helped grew. Gojek Group President Andre Soelistyo and the co-founder Kevin Aluwi are leading the company as co-CEOs.

Makarim told reporters at the Presidential Palace that it was a “big honor” for him to join the Jokowi's cabinet.

“Nadiem was summoned to the Palace by the President today to accept an appointment as a member of the new cabinet. We are very proud that our founder will play such a significant role in moving Indonesia onto the global stage,” a Gojek spokesperson said in a statement.

“We have planned for this possibility and there will be no disruption to our business,” the spokesperson added.

Personal Life

Nadiem Makarim is married to Franka Franklin in 2014

Entrepreneurship and running Gojek is Nadiem Makarim's long-time goal. Not only that he wants to give something to the public, he also wants to leverage the income of ojek riders in overall. Getting to this point is his social mission and dream.

"In my family, I'm the only one who is active in entrepreneurship," said Makarim.

His parents are supportive. Their only wish is for Makarim to provide something that is beneficial to the Indonesians.

Makarim explained about his parents which are nationalists, and their ideology has passed to him. For that reason, his passion and devotion for Indonesia is great.

Makarim is married to Franka Franklin in 2014, with the ceremony held in Bali, Indonesia.