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William and Patrick of Tokopedia: From Selling T-Shirts to Driving 1.5% of Indonesia’s GDP

Season 2

Episode 6

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Interview by Hans Tung and Dimitra Taslim. Dimi is on the investment team at GGV Capital. 

In this episode, we have William Tanuwijaya and Patrick Cao from Tokopedia. Tokopedia is an Indonesian technology company with the largest online marketplace business and its mission is to democratize commerce through technology. The name ‘Tokopedia’ is a combination of Toko (shop) and encyclopedia.

It was founded in 2009 by William Tanuwijaya and his best friend Leontinus Alpha Edison. According to the company, the firm’s annual run-rate GMV has reached 222 trillion IDR  (15.8 billion in USD), which would be equivalent to 1.5% of Indonesia’s GDP. It has significantly impacted the fate of many small-scale entrepreneurs since its launch 10 years ago. 89% of sellers on Tokopedia do not own a physical store and 86% of merchants are first-time entrepreneurs.

In this hour-long conversation, we covered William’s founding journey from working in the internet cafe to meeting Daniel Zhang and Joe Tsai from Alibaba, how to get a great executive team as an Indonesian company, Tokopedia’s ambition for the next 10 years, and what it means to achieve work-life harmony while running a big company.

William Tanuwijaya is the founder and CEO of Tokopedia. He was born and raised in Pematangsiantar, North Sumatera. William has a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology from Bina Nusantara University, during which period he worked as an internet café keeper and saw the potential of technology.

Patrick Cao is the President of Tokopedia, Indonesia’s largest online marketplace, a position he has held since October 2016. Previously, Patrick worked at Formation 8 in Singapore and UBS Investment Bank in Indonesia, specializing in M&A and capital markets advisory in the TMT, consumer and industrials sectors. He received a B.S. in Business Administration from Carnegie Mellon University and currently doing his MBA program at Tsinghua University.

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