Ilya Kravtsov: Indonesia Property Market, Cultural Assimilation & Navigating Startup Transitions - E316

· Start-up,Founder,Indonesia,Southeast Asia

“Historically, there's no correlation between property demand and interest rates in Indonesia. Usually, you would see a correlation. Interest rates three or four years ago in Indonesia were much higher than they are today. So that's something else that the customers see. Even the fixed interest rates were double digits a few years back, and they have gone significantly down nowadays. So the fixed interest for two, or three years, you can get down to 3, 4% for a limited amount of time, then it goes back to the floating rate of about 12%. For people who grew up in Indonesia and lived here for a long time, they compared it to what it was five years ago. That's another psychological factor that doesn't slow the demand.” - Ilya Kravtsov

“When we were in the process of selling our Indonesia operations, I had my first baby so I didn’t know what to expect. I spent a few months reading it just to get my head around what it’s like being a dad. We were also still doing a lot of research because when you start a company, or your third company, before jumping into anything, you really have to do proper research and look at things a little bit differently. You try to control your enthusiasm for starting something new because it's going to be a long and challenging journey. Do research and find the right partners to kick off the business. That was how I transitioned from my second business to my third business. I was enjoying time with my daughter while working on deep research and going into detail of what are the problems that I can help solve in Indonesia.” - Ilya Kravtsov

“When we started, everybody was saying banks are too traditional in Indonesia, but in reality, it's not true. The banks really give more mortgages and want to lend more. They're not as traditional as we think. What naturally happens is that a lot of the origination of mortgages is still done in a traditional way, mainly paper-based applications, involving a whole chain of resources. What happens is that if you do originate mortgages in a more traditional way, you would always prioritize houses that are more expensive to make your economics work, and deprioritize the houses that are cheaper, where you will get less interest rates and will be more difficult to pay your costs. So we've been observing and there was a whole opportunity that was not unlocked because of a lack of efficiency, high costs, and originating mortgages. Our fundamental assumption at the beginning was if we can digitize the process, decrease the cost of origination, and unlock a portion of the market that traditionally would just be ignored, not because the banks don't want to take it, it's just they would have too many applications and they would prioritize the ones that are better for them financially. That was what we came across as an assumption and that’s where we kicked off.” - Ilya Kravtsov

Ilya Kravtsov, Founder of Ringkas, and Jeremy Au discuss three primary topics:

1. Ilya’s Entrepreneurial Journey: Ilya elaborates on wrapping up his time at his last company, building a new startup, and how he approached the quest to find a compatible co-founder. He emphasizes the importance of aligned values, mutual respect, and complementary skills when looking for a co-founder. He also shares how he and his cofounder used an experimental approach in identifying the right business vertical to enter and engaged in a thorough process of testing and validating to understand the market gaps and opportunities better.

2. Indonesia’s Property Landscape: Ilya delves deep into his latest venture, Ringkas, which emerges as a solution to the intricacies of the Indonesian property market by streamlining it, offering potential homeowners clarity and guidance. He talks about the challenges of the property market like the varying interest rates, the nuances between primary and resale markets, and the cumbersome mortgage loan process. He also emphasizes the importance of robust market data in understanding rental returns and the complexities homeowners face in the country's tangled mortgage process.

3. Southeast Asia's Diverse Cultural Fabric: Ilya and Jeremy talk about Southeast Asia’s rich cultural diversity where every country, city, and community offers its own unique set of experiences. Ilya advises folks new to the region to immerse themselves in the local culture. He discusses how people should step out of their comfort zones and explore other cities besides the metropolises like Jakarta or Singapore since they do not encapsulate the entirety of what the region has to offer. He underscores that understanding local nuances, such as in business regulations or consumer behaviors, is vital for anyone aiming to succeed in the region.

They also talk about understanding varied GDP per capita across Southeast Asian nations, the evolving regulatory dynamics in the business realm, the intricacies of starting a business amidst a global pandemic, and the evolution of the startup ecosystem in the region and its comparisons with global counterparts.

Supported by Ringkas

Ringkas is a digital mortgage platform aiming to solve the access to financing problem for home seekers in Indonesia and Southeast Asia. Ringkas currently collaborates with all major Banks in Indonesia and the largest Property Developers across more than 15 cities. Ringkas vision is to democratize home ownership and create more than 100 million homeowners. Don't just dream about owning a home. Make it a reality. Explore more at

Jeremy Au: (01:57)

Hey Ilya, good to see you again.

Ilya Kravtsov: (01:59)

Hello. Hello.

Jeremy Au: (02:00)

Well, I'm excited to have you on the show because we had such a wonderful first-time interview, which can be found a year ago. But since then you've started out building Ringkas, which is really exciting in combining both property tech and fintech. So really excited to have you on the show. Could you please introduce yourself real quick?

Ilya Kravtsov: (02:15)

Sure. Well, thank you first of all, for having me. So yeah, my name is Ilya. Originally, I was born in Moscow, but I grew up in Italy and have been living in Indonesia for the past, more than 10 years. So, a little bit about my career, started in management consulting in the TMT space and emerging markets. And then about 10 years ago, I moved to entrepreneurship so I've been a serial founder mainly in the fintech space currently on my third startup. Previous startups were in the mobile loyalty space and payments. And now I'm in mortgage brokerage basically. So yeah, that's a little bit about me.

Jeremy Au: (02:49)

Well, and obviously we've dove into your past history in much more detail, including your last startup in the previous podcast episode. But this time, I think we want to talk a little bit more because you've had this interesting learning where you decided to wrap things up at the last company and start moving into property tech and FinTech in Indonesia.

So before we talk about Ringkas, could you talk about what happened over the past one and a half to two years, which is, that you decided to wrap things up and then transition to this new company? So how did you make that decision?

Ilya Kravtsov: (03:15)

Well, it was a very tough decision. Obviously, when you build a company, it's your baby. So it takes a lot of thought to try to move on to the next chapter. In my particular case, my previous startup was in payments in the entertainment and hospitality space. It was a rough two years of COVID for us but we managed to get through it. The company got a break even. And I thought that the direction the company was taking was not necessarily where I could add a lot of value. It was going towards more of a SaaS global business.

And I think when you realize that, there are people that actually can do more than you or contribute more to the cause, that's what triggers me basically to to move on and start something new. So being relevant is what founders love, to feel. So yeah, about a year and a half, I decided to resign from my previous startup and then I took a while to think a bit about what to start next and then Ringkas came along and then the rest is history.

Jeremy Au: (04:07)

Let's zoom in there because I think there are a lot of founders whose companies, either wrap up because of a cofounder's departure or define successor or they wind the company down. So lots of folks in that space now, so when you want things down, you decide to make a decision first. So how did you take a break? Did you go on holiday? How did you take the opportunity?

Ilya Kravtsov: (04:25)

Well, I think there were a few things, right? So, in the previous company, there was a new CEO who stepped in and then there was, in the process of selling our Indonesian operations, which we ended up selling a few months later and personally, I had also a change in my personal life. I had my first baby, a baby girl was getting born. So I think you'd never know what to expect. I spent a few months reading it just to get my head around, what's like being a dad. So that was a few months while we were still doing mainly a lot of research because when you do start a company or your third company, before jumping into anything, you really have to do proper research and you look at things a little bit differently. So you try to control your enthusiasm for starting something new because it's going to be a long and challenging journey.

You try to do research understand, and find the right partners to kick off the business. That was the transition moment from my second business to my third business where I was enjoying time with my daughter, but on the other hand, actually, working on really doing the deep research and going into details of what are the problems that I can help solve in Indonesia.

Jeremy Au: (05:26)

Yeah, control your enthusiasm,. It's a bit like breaking up and then, you know, you want to date everybody, right?

Ilya Kravtsov: (05:31)

Very similar.

Jeremy Au: (05:32)

So how do you do that? So you're like exploring all these different ideas. I'm sure you look at property, you look at FinTech, you must have looked at everything in Indonesia. So what was that search process like? Yeah.

Ilya Kravtsov: (05:40)

It was also an interesting time, right? So we started looking at this new business into 2021, and 2021 obviously was a very bullish year. Crypto was doing very well. ESG was doing very well. And FinTech obviously was doing very well. So I think we went through this time, quite a rational process of me and my cofounder on trying to understand what areas we really were areas that we could also contribute and we analyzed, to be honest, three different areas. We looked into crypto and, we liked it, but we're not experts on it. So we passed on that.

We looked at an ESG where we thought that we both wanted in our next startup to contribute and have an impact. But then the models we looked at, we thought it was very difficult to monetize. Then we landed on home ownership, which we felt that it was a mixture of creating impact for the place where we live, which is Indonesia, but on the other hand, also leveraging our previous skills. So I built a payments company and my partner before building a digital bank in Indonesia. So that's how it came across a little bit through a rational process of taking out what you don't want to do or you cannot do, and focusing on where you can contribute and where the passion lies.

Jeremy Au: (06:48)

Yeah. And, you know, you met your cofounder as well. How did you decide? Because so many cofounders, myself included, after we wrap our companies, there's a whole pool of people you can match up with, right? Old friends, old acquaintances, people you meet.

Ilya Kravtsov: (07:00)

Yeah, so I think this is a very good question. It's a very difficult process because there's a lot of people that think you might compliment you, a lot of people that are friends. So how do you go about that? And I think for me, it was important to find somebody who is in a similar stage of life that I am. And thinks about concepts similarly to me, so, you know, you can find brilliant people that are younger, but I have different motivations to do things are in different stages or the opposite. So for me, my cofounder is a similar age to me. He's also married to an Indonesian, the same as I am. So we're here for the long run and we do truly. also want To make an impact on the country. So there were a lot of things that kind of similarities. And I think that was important. So it's the stage you are right? So I think that kind of was, one of the key elements that I've considered.

Jeremy Au: (07:48)

Yeah. And how did you land on this specific problem? Because, you know, you have this person that you enjoy working with, you're brainstorming with, and then you're saying like, okay, I want to do something in FinTech and property, so how did you zoom in on the problem that you're currently tackling?

Ilya Kravtsov: (08:00)

So I think we realized that obviously, our expertise was mainly around FinTech but we wanted that impact angle and we went quite rationally through the whole process analyzing different FinTech opportunities, InsureTech was already taken, and there were many people doing it. E-wallets obviously were already quite big in Indonesia. And we went like a lot, we looked at a lot of areas and then we, we landed on a home ownership and mortgages. And the first thing, we realized was that there was not much going on from a startup tech perspective in Indonesia. You know, in places like us or Australia where my cofounder is from, there was really a big area where a lot of big companies have been created. I think that was one of the things that. struck our attention. The second one was more real when we started deep diving into the Indonesian market of mortgages. The numbers spoke for themselves. So I thought that was like the final trigger, or there is definitely a big problem that we can help

Jeremy Au: (08:51)

Yeah. So Ringkas, that's where you're at now. Could you share a little bit more about what exactly you're solving for?

Ilya Kravtsov: (08:56)

So, just to give you a bit of facts, about, the Indonesian market, and so we are all on the same page. I think that's also very important for me to let others know what is happening. So, in Indonesia, mortgage to GDP ratio at the moment is below 3%. So if we compare that, what does that mean? And if we compare that to other markets? So for example, India is 11% and India has a lower GDP per capita than Indonesia. ,

And the penetration is about 50%. You know, places like Malaysia, double digits 20, around 22%. So, in Indonesia, mortgage penetration is comparative to other markets, and at the same time, the second key indicator that, we looked at and it's still there, is the housing, so-called housing backlog. So at the moment in Indonesia, we're talking about 13 million houses that are in backlog, right? So what does that mean? That means that mainly, there are 30 million households or families that currently don't own a house in Indonesia, That either live with their parents or live in poor conditions and that is a big topic for the Indonesian government but also on an international level, on United Nations level and so on and so forth. Those are the key indicators we've kind of found that we wanted to contribute to solving, and that's where we started.

Jeremy Au: (10:05)

And what's interesting is that you made a decision to help with this finance side. So why is financing so hard in Indonesia?

Ilya Kravtsov: (10:12)

That's a very good question. I think, traditionally, what people, when we started, everybody was saying that, Oh, the banks are too traditional Indonesia, et cetera, et cetera. But in reality, it's not true. I mean, the banks really want to, give more mortgages and lend more and they're not as traditional as we think. So I think that's one of the first misconceptions about the financial sector in Indonesia. But what naturally happens is that a lot of I would say, origination of mortgages in Indonesia is still done in a more traditional way. So when I say traditional way, it's mainly paper-based applications, involving a whole chain of resources. So starting from sales, direct sales, people to relationship managers, credit analysts, and so on and so forth. And the effort that it takes to originate a mortgage, considering the whole value chain is quite substantial, and there's also a cost associated with that. So if we look at Indonesia on the other side of the demand and on the market, 90 percent of the houses are probably within the bracket of 70, 000 USD and, below.

And what happens is that if you do originate mortgages in a more, let's say, traditional way, you would always prioritize houses that are more expensive to make your economics work as simple as that, right? And you would deprioritize the houses that are cheaper, where you will get lower interest rates and, will be more difficult to pay your costs. So we've been observing. And so there was a whole. I would say opportunity that it was not unlocked mainly because of lack of, let's say efficiency, and high costs and originating mortgages. So our fundamental assumption at the beginning is, can we digitize the process? Decrease the cost of origination and unlock a portion of the market that traditionally would be just ignored, not because the banks don't want to take it, it's just they would have too many applications and they would, I would say prioritize the ones that are better for them financially. So that was what we came across as an assumption. That's where we kicked off.

Jeremy Au: (12:00)

So how does Ringkas go about solving this from your perspective?

Ilya Kravtsov: (12:04)

So, we've, and again, this is also interesting for maybe other founders or whoever is listening to the podcast. And so what we did is we actually talked with cofounders of large companies in, call it unicorns or whatever you want to call them from the US and Australia and other more developed markets, and we tried to find out whether, through technology, it wasn't theoretically possible to decrease origination cost by talking to some of them. We realized that was possible, at least abroad, so we, so what we started looking at is if there was us to develop a system to digitize that manual process of originating mortgages, decrease the cost per unit, unlock a Portion on the market, and bring already, let's say originated loan or mortgage to the bank directly for them to underwrite. So that's what we've tried to build from the beginning and, obviously, now we are already a year live and we have very high volumes comparatively to where we are. So I'm quite happy with the results so far. But that's how we go about it, really looking at the level of building that, digitizing that process, which is very manual.

Jeremy Au: (13:02)

So I think there are obviously quite a few benchmarks of companies that have tried to simplify this origination process, companies if you looked at as role models peers that you look up to in different countries around the world.

Ilya Kravtsov: (13:14)

So we looked at different angles. our, goal was, we want our banks to accept more volume. That's basically if we boil it down, right? So we looked at a well-known company called, which is a slightly different model because they also play in the secondary market. So they originate and then sell it off from their books within 30 to 60 days. In the secondary market, which is big in the U S and very small in Indonesia. Yet we looked at Divvy homes which is a slightly different angle and twist to this whole story which is the rent-to-own model. We looked at a few players in Australia.

We looked at mortgages in the US so those were mainly the kind of the models referred to. To be honest, none of them, we could just take and copy paste in Indonesia, because there was, they require some customization to the local market. And that's what we did, but definitely, from a tech perspective, we looked at many of them.

Jeremy Au: (14:04)

What are the unique aspects of Indonesia as a market that you had to localize to?

Ilya Kravtsov: (14:07)

So Indonesia is unique in the sense that first of all, the primary market is very big, right? So when I say primary market, we're talking about new houses. So in Indonesia, actually, you would have cities being built by property developers, right? So when I, when some of my friends from Europe, they don't understand what it means to build a city, right?

Because in Europe, you can build a few houses here and there, but you don't build full cities, right? But that's what happening in Indonesia, right? Those are the outskirts of the larger cities like Jakarta, you have cities being born. And so, the consequence the primary market is roughly 40 percent of the total market, which would be very different in other more developed markets primary market, which can be 10, 15%. So this means that the large property developers who build new houses have really large volumes and that's one of the key first differences.

The second difference, if we look more from the financial angle, the behavior in Indonesia is that the customers don't go to the bank first and understand their finances before buying a house, but on the opposite, they go find a house and then they try to figure out their right? So this was also very counterintuitive at the beginning. In my experience, I would always go to my bank and ask them to basically let me know how much I could afford and how much credit they would give me. And then, I would look based on that budget, my house, and this is the other way around, right? So those are some of the key differences that we observed when we started this business.

(15:28) Jeremy Au:

So where's the business now today? How do you measure your milestones, or traction and progress so far?

(15:34) Ilya Kravtsov:

As I said before, one of our main ideas was to leverage that big primary market and leverage the large property developers really change, to really digitize that. We, what we call infrastructure, financial infrastructure that connects the property developer, the home buyer, and the banks, So I think what and that for us was one way we call growth hacking. You partner with a few large property developers, they give you immediately large volume and then you can go to the banks and sign up the banks to work with you because obviously building a platform is always the chicken and the egg problem.

What do you do first? Do you get the volume or do you get your financial partners? So we went with the approach of signing up large property developers and that unlocked us majority of the bank partnership. Actually, now, we have 95 percent coverage of mortgage financial institutions.

So we've partnered with the majority of the banks but that was obviously a process over time, so I think that's how we went about solving the chicken and egg. But there were a lot of other nuances since we are, We had to go and get our We had to go and get our certification. We had to get security sorted. So it was a long preparation, I would say a journey for us to get where we are now. We are now trying to really spread our, solution, and our platform across both many large property developers, but also banks and local branches.

Jeremy Au: (16:54)

Yeah. So what's interesting is that you have to tackle this growth and obviously tackle different geographies, different islands. I'm just curious. Are there any differences between different islands or different municipalities around this regulation?

Ilya Kravtsov: (17:07)

I would say regulation, not necessarily, the differences are mainly about around different customer behavior, and this is also very interesting and bizarre, so, you would go to certain areas and you would see that the majority of the purchases are done through cash. You would see certain areas, and the majority of the purchase is done through mortgages. You will see as you go into other areas, you will see the majority of the buyers are business owners, less, I would say on the regulatory, because regulation is quite uniform. But the behavior definitely varies, place by place.

Jeremy Au: (17:38)

Interesting. No, no, that's really fascinating. And as you build this out, I think property tech and finance tech have been going through this huge, like I said, it was a bull market in 2021 for both of these categories, and now, 2023, obviously, that return of gravity, I guess. So looking ahead, what do you think, about the funding environment? What are the key concerns that you think people often have around startups in this space?

Ilya Kravtsov: (18:00)

Funding environment, obviously, as I said, we started in 2021 thinking about it when it was a bull market and things were very different. I think now, Indonesia is fairly quiet. There are not that many startups and I'm really, I think we're really lucky to be one, one of the few that are in a good financial position. We did raise recently around and we raised one last year. So runways long and we can really focus on, building the business. our business is a long term, it's a big problem for the country is a long term business, property. So I think we're not too worried about the fluctuations for two reasons, One is, it's market-impacted. from an investment perspective, I think we believe that it is a matter of time. If you have a long-term term, if you have a good financial position, it will come back and whether it's going to take 18 months, or 24 months, it doesn't really matter.

It's a good moment to build. You don't have distractions. You don't have people raising crazy rounds or, people going and really undermining you in terms of pricing strategies and all that. So I think from that perspective, we are very happy. On the other side, what is also important to consider is that, since we are in Indonesia where the demand is really strong, we haven't seen the global interest rates affecting the market that much. And this is also very interesting. So you would look at, mortgage rates in the UK for example. So I have just a friend who came from the UK and he says, look, rent went up 40% because nobody's buying mortgage, rates are super high in Indonesia. It's not necessarily the case because the majority of the home buyers are first-home buyers, so the demand is still very strong and the interest rates haven't been impacted that much. And that allows us to be fairly in a comfortable place, even considering this global turbulence in terms of interest rates and cost of funds, and that impacts mortgages a lot, like in places like the US or UK.

So those two things give us the capability of building quietly without distractions and still a fairly strong market, local market. I think that allows us hopefully to survive the tech winter in a good way.

Jeremy Au: (19:57)

Actually, this is a super interesting point about interest rates, right? So the tech boom and bubble were obviously fueled by the zero interest rate policy by the US. So that's really low and it was interesting because people consider it the risk-free rate and the emerging markets are priced on top of it. And I'm so curious because I've been traveling around the region and this of inflation and then after their search is very much a Western dynamic in Europe and us. And I think in Southeast Asia, that differing aspects of it. So Singapore's inflation was moderate heading in Asia, inflation was lower and then Vietnam's interest rates went really high because they had a financial crisis in terms of the banking system. So could you share a little bit more about that interaction between interest rate, and inflation growth from your perspective, because it's so linked to property, right?

Ilya Kravtsov: (20:38)

In Indonesia, actually, it's a pity, but maybe I will show you later, and send you a slide. Historically, there's no correlation between property demand and interest rates in Indonesia. That's very funny because usually you would see definitely a correlation, right? And something else to mention is that interest rates like three, or four years ago in Indonesia were much higher than they are today. So that's something else that the customers see. So interest rates in Indonesia, where, even the fixed, interest rates were double digits a few years back, have gone significantly down, nowadays. So fixed interest for two, three years, you can get down to 3% uh, 3, 4%, right? Obviously for a limited amount of time, then it goes back to the floating rate of about 12%. So. You know, people who obviously grew up in Indonesia lived here for a long time. For them, they compared it to what it was five years ago. It says, well, this is, this is great. Right. So I think that's something that's another psychological factor that doesn't slow the demand. and that's what we've observed as well in Indonesia.

Jeremy Au: (21:37)

And you know, when you think about obviously property you know, and you talk about primary, obviously, and then we talk about a resale When you look down the next five, 10 years, I mean, everybody's going to ask you, right? should I buy property in Indonesia? How should I think about it? I'm sure people ask you all that all the time, but I mean, less about buying a house, but you know, what do you think are going to be the trends you think are going to happen over the next 10 years perspective, since you're so into it right now? Yeah.

Ilya Kravtsov: (21:57)

Yeah, this is a very good question. I love the question. To be honest, this is what we're, all that I actually think a lot internally as well, personally on a personal basis because we do see a lot of great opportunities not necessarily in Jakarta, but in other cities. Let's talk about the new capital, there's a new capital that is supposed to be built

Obviously, a lot of property developers are buying land and this could be one of the trends. One might want to jump on board, obviously, there are restrictions for foreigners in terms of buying property, but even those are being lifted for properties above a certain amount. So if the property is about a certain price, then you can actually own a property in Indonesia to some of the latest regulations that came out. so I think, obviously, you know, this is an emerging market. Things are growing very fast. I've been here for 11 years and when I came to Jakarta, had a lot less fancy apartments than it has now. And I personally bought several properties here. And so I believe I've seen that in, when I grew up in Moscow, when 2000, you know, you could buy very cheaply and then it became just prohibitively expensive.

So I think in the long run, definitely properties, especially in the bigger cities, are going to go up in price. It's good to buy. Obviously, be careful with the bubbles. There might be some temporary bubbles and there will be ups and downs. One of the bubbles that we observed now is in Bali, And not sure how long it's going to last, personal view.

Jeremy Au: (23:15)

Yeah. I think, what's also interesting, I mean, you mentioned, obviously, you grew up in Russia. I think one thing I've met recently over the past year is I've met so many immigrants from across southeast Asia, in Thailand, and Indonesia. I'm just wondering, do you have any advice for folks who are new to Southeast Asia, how they should be thinking about it, how they should be localizing, and how they should be exploring opportunities?

Ilya Kravtsov: (23:35)

Yes, I do see a lot of Russian founders. Personally, I left Russia when I was still a kid and spent 15 years in Italy and basically grew up mainly there. But I think the idea is that, but this is I would say it's just not about Russians in general, about foreigners coming to or any other country in Southeast Asia.

I think what the recommendation would be there is to really spend more time understanding the local culture, spend more time building a relationship, not rush in, doing and expecting to have quick results because these countries are still very relationship-driven. People need to understand who you are and need to trust you. And that is not something that can be built immediately. I think these are some of the mistakes that people make right? They would come to say, okay, I'm smart. I can do something quick. And I flip things here. Not. I don't think that's how it works. So I think it's more of a long-term relationship building, really caring about the place you are really trying to understand what are the challenges, how you can create impact, how you can help not only yourself but the country. So I think the mindset is very important, and I encourage anybody and you look, honestly, I've been a foreigner all my life, lived 15 years in Italy, seven years in Russia and Been around, lived in South Africa, lived in Singapore now in Indonesia. So I think this mindset of basically caring where you are, even though you're not coming from that place and really identifying itself for the current problems and so on, I think it's very important that not many people have that, especially if they are not used to being a foreigner all their life. So that's one of the things that at least is my personal takeaway.

Jeremy Au: (25:04)

Yeah, very true. I guess, you know, they call it a third culture kid, right? But I guess you're like a fourth-culture or fifth-culture kid, by now.

Ilya Kravtsov: (25:11)

Well, I, yeah, look, I mean, I live. 15 years in Italy, and seven years in Russia. And then, in Indonesia already 11 years, and my wife is Indonesian. So,

Jeremy Au: (25:20)


Ilya Kravtsov: (25:20)

So this is my third or fourth place.

Jeremy Au: (25:22)

Yeah. you know, I think obviously, you know Southeast Asia is full of immigration from the Indians to the Asians too and I think lots of different folks and cultures in southeast Asia, part of that, naval silk road between the East and West. So, definitely not an issue. And of course, there's an incredible influx of talent, both technical, but in terms of hunger and entrepreneurship. So I think one interesting thing you say is like having to make sure that, you kind of understand the local culture, and build local links. How do you think folks who are like moving to Southeast Asia, how should they go about doing it from your perspective?

Ilya Kravtsov: (25:51)

Well, I think to be honest with you I've seen many people who lived abroad, but never went out of their comfort zone, especially in there may be free time, So I know many people who, you know Italians, for example, and they live in wherever and they just hang out with Italians, right? So that obviously, will not bring you closer. Even though I understand that you feel more in your comfort zone surrounded by people that, you know, understand your language, on and so forth. So I think the idea is that for me, as I lived in so many different places, nationality is never something I do care about in the sense that whether hanging out with Indonesian or foreigners or et cetera, I really value people and that can bring me something, and I can bring to them but it's really pushing yourself a little bit outside the comfort zone.

If you, and again, Jakarta is not Indonesia. It's very important to go to other cities and see how people live. You know, yesterday I was in Palembang and you know, a different city, different vibe, different traditions. and Indonesia Is a large country, obviously.

Because sometimes foreigners come like it's Bali and Jakarta, or maybe some, for example, just Bali. And then they think that represents the country, but that's not really true. For me, it was one of those moments where I actually learned about the diversities when I was working in XL Axiata, which is a large telecom operator in between my startup jobs.

And that's where I had a chance to really understand how large the country is, and how different the behavior might be. And, since at that time, we had about 70 million customers. So I think those are a few things that people need to force themselves to do in order to get closer to the reality of things. Otherwise, your assumptions about the market might be very skewed, right?

Jeremy Au: (27:21)

A hundred percent. On that note, Singapore is also not Southeast Asia, so that would be my advice as well.

Ilya Kravtsov: (27:26)

Very true, right? There are people 100 percent there are people who come to Singapore and say, okay, this is Southeast Asia. I'm going to be based here. I'm nice And comfortable. And then they try to launch a startup out of Singapore for Indonesia. And that mostly doesn't work, right? But that's not a not a surprise, right? Because of very different realities.

Jeremy Au: (27:46)

Yeah. Yeah. Like you said, you know, I think it's about understanding what the local reality is, which is, very different. I think very different GDP per capita, like you said, different interest rates, even different regulatory dynamics on the property side and finance side, different stages in terms of ecosystem. So things are so different, right? you know, I think what's interesting as well is that, you know, you sit down and you said Hey, I want to build this. And I think you've been a founder over and over again. Right. So I'm sure you have a lot of good stories. Any personal story about a time that you've been brave?

Ilya Kravtsov: (28:14)

Well, I think I mentioned some stories in the previous podcast we had about, I think to be honest with you, actually starting this business was something that I think you have to be a bit brave to do for several reasons. I was coming from I would say two challenging years of COVID where I had to really go through a lot of struggles of a company, being in the entertainment and hospitality sector. I had my first child coming, and obviously, big change personally, and starting a business a financial services real estate, which is for a foreigner, could be also considered big I mean, I put quote unquote foreigner quote unquote foreigner since I've been in Asia for 11 years. And I said, I do think I understand the culture and the society pretty well, but I think still when you first pitch to the VCs they, they ask you questions if they don't know that the background,

But it's something that I really felt that I was in a good place, to do, and it required a little bit more gray hair or no hair, since, it's a difficult, uh, you know, uh, difficult problem to solve. So I do think that's... In that moment in time, it was something that, , a brave move for me to start. And I don't regret obviously doing that, but, we'll see how, how everything unfolds.

Jeremy Au: (29:23)

Yeah. Thank you so much for sharing. On that note, I'd love to summarize the three big takeaways I got from this conversation. First of course, thank you so much for sharing about what it was like to obviously wrap up your time at your last company and start-up. But also how you went about searching and matching a cofounder that you respected, but also searching and testing and experimenting with different verticals. And eventually, I think the problem that you went to tackle. So I thought it was a really nice experience. It's, I think, increasingly common, but still relatively rare for a founder to be a serial founder again. And this time around, I think, be much more intentional about that search process and about intentional about the recovery process as well. So that was one.

Two is thank you so much for sharing Ringkas, about why you're tackling the space. And I think some of the peculiarities about the interest rate, property prices, the primary versus the resale market, rental yields, and obviously, whether we should buy property in Indonesia or not. Can you only go up, I thought it was really interesting to hear about how you're approaching it, but also how you're planning to make it much easier for folks to be able to solve the whole mortgage loan process, which is really fascinating for those who are interested in property tech and FinTech.

Lastly, thank you so much for sharing a little bit about what advice you have for folks who are moving to Southeast Asia. Southeast Asia is such a melting pot of different cultures in every single country, in every single border, in every single city, in every single community. and I thought it was nice of you to share a little bit about how you've been in Indonesia for 11 years, you have, you know, a family here. And congratulations on your kid, who's going to be growing up here for the foreseeable future. But I think it was just really nice to hear about how there's a local reality that's not easy to observe if you're in a bubble, but also what advice you have to how to get out of that bubble and to really engage. So thank you so much, ilya, for coming on the show.

Ilya Kravtsov: (30:57)

Thank you, Jeremy. It was a pleasure to share. Thanks for inviting me.