Arkademi is an Indonesia edtech company with the goal to help people to get access to any vocational courses with very accessible cost. People can learn anywhere and anytime on the go and seamlessly with their super practical app.
We sit down with CEO Hilman Fajrian for an update on Arkademi’s progress and learn about their journey from their time during SOSV MOX’s cohort 8 and beyond.
How have you grown since SOSV?
Arkademi has grown 22x in GMV year-to-date since SOSV joined us on-board in January 2020. We are proud to announce that we hit our first US$1 million GMV since we were founded in 2018. It strengthens our position in Indonesia premiere league of edtech industry by taking the second most popular online course application in the geographic. Thanks to that, we have rocketed our company market valuation from US$53K to US$10 million in less than a year. It’s no doubt that we would not have achieved it without SOSV by our side.
What is one thing SOSV helped you with and one thing you’ve learned from working with SOSV?
We made it because we are standing on the shoulder of a giant — named SOSV.
SOSV helps us to be on-track and execute things right. It’s the most difficult task for every entrepreneur and the bias could be hazardous regardless the business model or stage. The failure to set the right metric can be catastrophic for the company because the whole team will go in the wrong direction and allocate the major resources for any activities that are irrelevant to the business growth and unimpactful. Every entrepreneur is facing many numbers of metrics and directions on the table and unfortunately they can only pick one. Pick the wrong one means disaster.
SOSV helps us from day one in setting up the right direction and metric that are clear, relevant, and impactful to our business that relates to our business model and stage. SOSV shows us how to execute things right and is helping us with so many valuable supports; one month founder’s fundraising module in Taipei, demo day, mentorship from hundreds of global experts, founders network, and investor relation. Many things that we would never have at other places.
In a nut-shell, SOSV is our partner that actively works with us side-by-side to build our business. We don’t see this type of quality on any other VCs.
What led or inspired you to work with SOSV?
SOSV is a VC with startup style that has one clear goal: help their portfolios to accelerate. While other VC are completing their tasks after writing down numbers on the check book, for SOSV, the journey has just begun.
Having money is one thing. But knowing how to spend it in the right direction and utilize it right, is another and the most critical one.
SOSV is sweating as much as we are in building Arkademi. They even sweat more in helping hundreds of early-stage portfolios from all over the globe. You can imagine how challenging it is.
In fact, VC and accelerator are two different entities in the startup world. But we see those two entities blended perfectly in SOSV and they are doing the job seamlessly.
We are blessed to have SOSV on-board.
One memory of MOX that sticks with you.
Once, I asked a question to William Bao Bean, “Why Arkademi? Why did you pick us?”
William answered, “Because you’re not a jerk.”
It was in February 2020, when myself and all the founders at MOX-8 had lunch for the first time in Taipei. It was Italian restaurant. After hearing his answer, we were laughing. William smiled. We thought that it was a joke. But it wasn’t.
He continued, “We invest in the founder. Not product nor market. Market is always changing, and so does the product. It doesn’t make sense to invest in both of them. Only the founder who makes it different.”
It shocked me a bit and I realized it as time flies. Thousands of startups from all over the globe send their investment deck to SOSV every year. But only a dozen of them are chosen, including Arkademi. It makes the possibility to get funded by SOSV is lower than to be accepted at Harvard. Statically speaking, only 0.02% of the startups from all over the world get funding from venture capital.
At first, I thought SOSV investment thesis on us were the beauty of our product and the market size. It wasn’t. It was because we have founders and a team that was ‘not a jerk’. I did not ask William what his ‘jerk’ or ‘not jerk’ criteria was. But, as time flew, I found that the life span of (early stage) startups always depends on the quality of its founders and every person on-board. Because it’s only people who can make a difference: build and develop products that continuously fit the market, and live in a day-to-day bloody fight of the market colosseum.
It evolves my paradigm in building my team at Arkademi. Skill set, experience, and past achievement are things. But culture, ethics, and morale are our fundamentals. It’s non-negotiable.