A decade ago, Tokopedia was nothing more than a dream of two people, William Tanuwijaya and Leontinus A. Edison. Today, it’s a marketplace with 90 million users that reached almost all Indonesian districts. It’s an incredible story about overcoming challenges, convincing investors, and hard work.
Tokopedia’s Incredible Journey
Now, a decade later, the company has a lot to be proud of. We’ll go over the critical points of this incredible journey to see how it became the powerhouse it is today.
It Started as a Dream
Creating Tokopedia was a challenge since no other company had a similar model that was also successful. This simple fact turned a lot of investors away at first. Nobody thought such an idea would succeed in Indonesia. The founders didn’t give up. As they looked for investors, they came up with the name – a combination of “toko” (which translates to “shop”) and “encyclopedia.” It was a perfect representation of their idea.
After knocking on countless doors in search of funding, Leon and William didn’t lose hope. Giving up was out of the question. They finally got their first funding from a person who believed in them and their idea. Tokopedia started its journey on August 17th, 2009.
Their primary objective was convincing users that online shopping is safe. They started as a small office with only a few people. The first item ever sold on the platform was a “Kami Tidak Takut” (“We Are Not Afraid”) t-shirt made by one of the local SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises).
First Marketing Efforts
Back in those early years, the company had limited funds and couldn’t afford any paid promotions. Fortunately, the existing users promoted Tokopedia through word of mouth. Eventually, it reached the media. The company was soon featured in Indonesian Tempo Magazine, which presented it as an “online mall.”
After a while, Tokopedia started making its very first ad. Many of the early employees did whatever was necessary, turning into scriptwriters, camera operators, etc. They decided to go with a cinema ad, and the first one ran in 2012. From there, they put together thematic ads, trying to inspire Indonesians to follow their dreams, just like the platform itself.
Innovation and Digitalization
Tokopedia received $100 million in funding from Sequoia Capital and Softbank Internet & Media, which helped the platform develop and introduce new services. It started focusing on fintech and digital products, aiming to provide Indonesians with banking and payment services. Users were able to pay their utilities and get train tickets through Tokopedia.
However, the innovations didn’t stop there. In 2017, the platform launched Deals which helped people find the best deals in any of the main eight categories on the website. This feature also made it easier for offline businesses to move into the online arena. During the same year, the company moved into a 53-floor building, now known as Tokopedia Tower, in Jakarta’s central business district. It also received another $1.1 billion in funding from Softbank and the Alibaba Group.
The key for Tokopedia’s growth was definitely collaboration. To this day, the company strongly believes that the key to success is helping others get successful. The ultimate goal for the company is to connect as many people as possible, combining different services in a single one-stop-shop platform.
In 2019, Tokopedia received a GMV (Gross Merchandise Value) of Rp. 18.5 trillion, which means it drives more than 1% of Indonesia’s economy. It has countless partners, over 100 million users, and more than 9.7 million merchants.
Even though it’s primarily focused on Indonesia, the platform has become so popular that many non-Indonesians set up their shops by using Tokopedia proxies. It makes perfect sense because no other marketplace offers a more effective entry to the Indonesian market.
This inspiring story shows every goal is achievable if you’re ready to give it a shot and work hard to make it a reality. The platform doesn’t plan to expand outside of Indonesia, but its popularity just might change that. Many people use proxies to access websites, apps, and services they otherwise wouldn’t be able to use, including Tokopedia. If you’re looking to learn more about proxies, this might help.