“To tackle a complex, wicked problem like air pollution, you need to do all the things you need to do very well. That's why it gets very challenging. And that is really how when we look at any country, understand that we're only looking probably 1 way. It requires us to meet someone from that place and be there to understand anything at all. If I just make a conclusion about Kenya, knowing whatever I google, I probably might just end up with sensationalistic news or mainly negative things rather than seeing for myself how people there are very driven, and the young people are very energetic. They are trying so hard to get a better education. No news is thinking of putting that because they have a paywall and they need to get paid. So what do you get out of sharing these things that are probably not that sexy, not that sensationalistic, but actually very hopeful? And hope is something that, thank goodness from my lens as an Indonesian living in Indonesia, I see a lot of.” - Gita Sjahrir
“The most memorable investors I had were the ones who listened to me. And the ones who at least would give me a shot or think the best of me, even though some of them never invested in me, but we became close friends because they listened and I realized listening to anyone at all is actually a super important skill set that is highly underrated in today's world. Because there's so much drive to prove we're better or we're smarter. There's so much drive to show off who we are that we forget to listen and make other people feel important. So I realized, although it sounds like, hey, everyone can listen, but that's actually not true. A lot of people cannot and probably because we've lost that skill set along the way in a world that is so loud and noisy.” - Gita Sjahrir
“It's been super interesting seeing both the public and private sector view of Indonesia. The country has been fairly blessed with not going through a recession. There’s strong economic growth and inflation is under check at 5.1%, 5.2%. Is it a utopia? Absolutely not. Indonesia has a ton of issues. That's why it's so important to not see the world as very black and white and very binary. It's so important that everyone works together, and see where the values are aligned, and where they intersect because so many of the best things that Indonesia has done right have been when the public and private sectors worked together, collaboratively.” - Gita Sjahrir
1. Founder to VC Transition: Gita talked about her prior startup founder's roller-coaster life where every decision directly impacted business growth, team morale, and product trajectory. She eventually moved to the “dark side” with VC, becoming the Head of Investment at BNI Ventures. With her 13 years of experience building businesses and fundraising from VCs, she learned that founders need mentorship and strategic guidance from their investors. She invests time in debriefing and introspection after each pitch session in order to communicate and resonate with entrepreneurial teams.
2. Kauffman Fellowship Learnings: Gita joined the Kauffman Fellowship Program, influenced by her investor brother's recommendation. The program gave her a nuanced perspective on venture capital fundamentals and enabled her to network with a diverse group of fellow VCs. She explained how the program focuses on challenging one's values, vision, and self-imposed limitations. She also discussed the internal barriers that hold back people from achieving their true potential such as limiting beliefs and societal expectations.
3. Indonesian Market Misconceptions: Gita underscored that many of the views about Indonesia are either oversimplified or tainted by foreign media biases. She brought up the narrative around Jakarta's air pollution and explained that while it’s a pressing concern, the story is more layered than typically portrayed. She urges listeners to challenge these narratives by stepping out of their informational bubbles. She also discussed that contrary to the belief that Indonesia is just a consumer market, the nation is fast emerging as a hub for tech-driven solutions tailored to the region’s challenges. She shared her insights on the country’s political landscape such as how grassroots movements, youth participation, and a diverse set of leaders are shaping the nation's democratic journey.
They also touched upon the influences shaping the portrayal of countries in the news, especially within the US-China dynamic context, the necessity to be aware of the limited perspectives one might harbor, and the importance of firsthand experiences over media-induced perceptions.
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 www.ringkas.co.id
(02:14) Jeremy Au:
Hey, Gita, really excited to have you back on the show. It's been a year. Wow.
(02:19) Gita Rusmida Sjahrir:
Hi, Jeremy. Thank you so much for inviting me.
(02:21) Jeremy Au:
Yeah. I think it's amazing to continue to keep track of your journey. You've transitioned since our last podcast interview from being a founder to venture capital and also becoming a Kauffman fellow. So tremendous changes. And as I said to myself, we got to catch up, we got to swap some notes, hear your story, and also chat about Indonesia as a market because so many people actually still have these misconceptions about Indonesia as a market, they only see the bad news. So I wanted to make sure that we double-click into that. But on that note, could you just introduce yourself real quick?
(02:49) Gita Rusmida Sjahrir:
Sure. Hi, Jeremy. Thank you so much again for inviting me back. Can't believe it's already been a year. Before this, I was a serial founder for 13 years, and then I joined the quote-unquote dark side and became a venture capitalist. And I had investments at BNI Ventures, which is the venture arm for one of Indonesia's largest state-owned banks. I'm also driving their impact investment initiative. And I became a Kauffman fellow last year.
(03:13) Jeremy Au:
Amazing. What a crazy amount of changes that you have. So I got to ask, what's it like joining the dark side? I'm also a founder turned VC. swap notes, I guess. Yeah. What's it like?
(03:24) Gita Rusmida Sjahrir:
Well, I think it was really important that I became an entrepreneur first before I became a venture capitalist. I joined investing because I was one of those founders who thought, hey, our VCs who were not founders before, are they missing something? Are they missing a different viewpoint? Are they saying things that probably are not executable for a certain stage? For that type of founder? For that sector? Is there something valuable that I can bring into the space if I just bring my 13 years of experience building businesses, the majority of which are bootstrap? Actually, I only raised venture funding for 1 company out of 4, so I thought to myself maybe I have something important to share, or at the very least, maybe I can be a better listener and be someone who gives people a shot and who listens to founders in a more empathetic way because I was one. And it really is just that can I bring a different voice, but most of all, can I be a better ear for founders?
(04:23) Jeremy Au:
Yeah. And how, how has that experiment turned out to be? Are you a better ear for founders?
(04:30) Gita Rusmida Sjahrir:
Well, it's this, right? I think so much of my frustration back in the day as a founder, and I wasn't one of those founders who could raise a lot. No, I think a lot of venture capitalists probably remember me as that person who tries really hard, but is probably not the best fundraiser. And that's why I bootstrapped so much of my business. But at the very least, the most memorable investors I had were the ones who listened to me. And the ones who at least would give me a shot or think the best of me, even though some of them never invested in me, but we became close friends because they listened and I realized listening to anyone at all is actually a super important skill set that is highly underrated in today's world. Because there's so much drive to prove we're better or we're smarter. There's so much drive to show off who we are that we forget to listen and make other people feel important.
So I realized, although it sounds like, hey, everyone can listen, but that's actually not true. A lot of people cannot and probably because we've lost that skill set along the way in a world that is so loud and noisy. And this entire year, I've really just focused on learning more about that founder, learning more about their mission, how they look at a market, how they see the business because I wanted to see if there's possibly a diamond in the rough that other people are not looking at because they're busy trying to see if that person fits a pattern. So I think so much of the way I approach it is, is there something that other people are missing that I can at least try to see? Who's the diamond in the rough? Who's looking at this problem in a fresh way? Who cares so much about the market that they'll pivot whichever way in order to get the solution that the market needs? Not just what the market wants or what's nice to have, but really what the market cannot live without.
(06:21) Jeremy Au:
And what's interesting is that I actually felt the very same, which is, I think the job is very much about gatekeeping and selection. So your pattern matching to be like, okay, who's going to be knocking off the park and everybody else can fly a kite? And you know, there's a very strong, cause you're looking at thousands of companies and you're going to invest in five or 10, right? The ratio is bonkers. And I think, what I tell myself all the time is you know, Jeremy, just don't be the asshole VC that you hated when I was a founder because actually the habits are there. Because the truth is if you've got a filter for five out of a thousand, the incentives are there to just move on and be very cut and do it. But I think maintaining the humanity for the other 1, 495 founders is the hardest part. Yeah. What do you think about that, Gita?
(07:05) Gita Rusmida Sjahrir:
I think we talked about this on the phone. We just basically said, don't be an asshole. I mean, it's fairly simple. It is fairly simple. And so, whenever I speak to founders, I might overthink it, to be honest, where I really double back and go, wait, was I an asshole? Did I just say all the wrong things? What did I do? But it helps me improve and develop my listening skills. At the very least, it is a constant wake-up call for me because I meet founders all the time, like several people a day and every day I'm always asking myself, Okay, was that the best? Were you reactive? Did you say things because you suddenly felt the need to prove something? Did you give any advice that maybe you shouldn't be giving? Are you saying things without that much knowledge?
I mean, that person probably knows more about their market than you. That person probably knows more about their company than you. What was driving your feedback? And I think about that a lot so it's been very helpful that I also write after a lot of my meetings. I just write the learnings, or I sometimes remind myself, maybe don't say it in that way, or refrain from giving advice or refrain from this. And a lot of it is because when I was a founder, I remember getting a lot of advice, the majority of which, again, was not executable for the stage or the sector that I was in, and it was very annoying because it felt like, did you even listen to me? Did you hear my challenges? Did you realize that I have no funding to do what you just said?
(08:34) Jeremy Au:
(08:35) Gita Rusmida Sjahrir:
Did you think about how I felt? And I realized that no matter how smart you are or how smart anyone is, the most powerful thing you can give to someone is a feeling. That's really something people cannot forget. People will not forget if you make them feel heard if you make them feel that you've given them a chance, or that you've really taken into account their struggle. People won't forget that feeling. You're being the smartest person in that sector. Well, there are always smarter people in anything. And after a while, it's quite forgettable because everybody's always jumping in to give everyone else advice. So many pieces. Let me tell you what I think, what I would do. And a lot of founders are here going, what you would do if you also had no money like me? If you're also running out of runway like me? Are you sure about this? And I really want to give people that benefit of the doubt and just give them that feeling that, hey, I'm listening to you whether or not I agree with you, but at least I'm listening to you and I realize that your thinking and your feelings are valid, whether or not that is necessarily Always true, or that is always as bad or as challenging or as positive or as negative as you think it is. Because sometimes what we feel and what we think isn't always necessarily 100 percent true.
So, when people say, no, my business is totally the absolute best, or my business is definitely going downhill. It doesn't always mean that it will.
(10:00) Jeremy Au:
(10:00) Gita Rusmida Sjahrir:
Sometimes maybe your business is just going through a hard time and you'll be fine, but that's why at the very least. If I can validate that, hey, yeah, I see you, I feel you, then yeah, I'm okay with that.
(10:12) Jeremy Au:
Yeah. I agree with you about the validation and people remember how they feel after that meeting and when I think to myself about my past fundraising conversations as a founder, the truth is I kind of laugh at some of my pitches that I had last time. I'm like, I have this old, experienced eye. I'm like, oh my God, my deck was terrible. I was totally, you know, did not answer that question well. So I have these, I take a shower and it's just pop, comes to my head. I was like, now that I think about it, I really botched that meeting, didn't I?
(10:37) Gita Rusmida Sjahrir:
(10:37) Jeremy Au:
I think there was a time when I was pitching. It was the first company, is a social enterprise and it was speaking with some philanthropic requirements. And at some point, there was this giving lots of blah I ended the meeting, but I remember I was kind of teary-eyed at the end of the meeting. think it was a little bit like, okay, you don't get it. And there's the vision so far anyway. And I was thinking about that recently and I was like, Oh man, I could have done that better. But it's part of the learning process. And I remind myself a lot of the time is I'm sitting down with someone, a founder, and I'm like, yeah, maybe they're not good right now, but they could get better. And probably they will get better because if you're a founder, you're entrepreneurial, you're open to feedback, it's just it takes time. You can't improve in one week, but over the course of five years, 10 years, and 15 years, you get better. And so, I think I tell myself all the time, Hey, just try your best. And then, Take it from there.
So for yourself, I know that you became a Kauffman fellow as well as part of your learning journey. So I wanted to hear about the experience. What was it like?
(11:25) Gita Rusmida Sjahrir:
Oh Kauffman. Right. So I actually didn't know much about the program because when I tried to Google it, a lot of things didn't come out.
(11:34) Jeremy Au:
(11:35) Gita Rusmida Sjahrir:
So, I actually applied because my brother, who's also an investor, highly recommended the program saying that I think it would benefit you to meet a lot of people from different backgrounds. And so, when I applied, I ended up contacting I don't know, 12 alums and a lot of them were cold calls, like they didn't know who I was when I became that creep on LinkedIn.
(11:59) Jeremy Au:
(12:00) Gita Rusmida Sjahrir:
When I became that, that random person who just popped by in there in their chat. But I was so surprised how many people were receptive. I was so surprised by how many Kauffman fellows. I literally just talked to a random stranger who popped up just to share about the program. And that's huge for me because then it made me ask, what is this thing? Like, how come they have such nice people? What is going on?
(12:25) Jeremy Au:
(12:26) Gita Rusmida Sjahrir:
And I think at the time because I was going full time into being an investor. I wanted to meet more investors. I wanted to understand more about the sector because I wonder, can I do this? Am I even able to become as good of an investor as a lot of people I look up to? So there's a lot of doubt, a lot of insecurity during that time. And I thought if I can learn even more from other people. That would be best. And so when I applied to Kauffman, to be honest, I really didn't think I'd get in just because although I was an angel investor for a long time, and at the time I was building a fund, I thought I didn't have 20 years of experience. I'm probably too young for this or I'm probably not good enough and not experienced. So I was very surprised that when I got in, they said to me, oh, we see so much potential in you. And we really would like to help guide you to become the best human that you can be and I thought that was a very interesting outlook actually, when they said the best human because I thought it was about investing and then they went, well, no, I mean, this is about being the best you. Because if you're the best human, then most likely you're probably also going to be the best investor you can be.
And also, the you at work and the you at home and the you anywhere else is still you. You're not this chopped-up thing. You're not a chopped-up persona that exists differently in different stages. You always retain some of you in almost everything. So, if we can optimize that, then that would be best. And so far, it's been a huge eye-opener for me. Meeting fellows from so many different countries and so many different stages, there are people managing a 10 million fund all the way to, I don't know 300 billion AUM and more, of course, more. So the range is humongous but what I love from it is no one there feels like they're judging anyone because it's like, you're in your lane and I'm in my lane and I'm just doing my journey. Probably one of the biggest lessons was in one of the modules the speaker said hey as you can see, by the way, that topic was thesis, and we had speakers that had, I swear 20 different investment theses. Like, all 20 speakers had 20 different theses.
(14:42) Jeremy Au:
(14:43) Gita Rusmida Sjahrir:
They're all pretty successful in their own right. And they're all happy. And one speaker said, I really hope you understand now that it's not really just about the investment thesis and the strategy, but it's also about what strategy can you execute that will help you sleep at night. And that, for me, just encapsulated that Kauffman experience, which is that diversity of investment thesis, background, interest, but all of us just pursuing our lane and our journey and our progress according to our timing, and just seeing what life journey can you do that will help you sleep at night. It's pretty useless to run a huge fund if it's just going to make you feel bad most of the time, knowing that fund life is really long too.
Are you sure you want to hate your life for 10 plus 1 plus 1 plus 1 years? Are you sure that that's where you want to go? And I think I really love learning that there are so many ways you can be successful, so many ways you can thrive, and so many ways you can define success. And it's about finding that joy in whatever way you decide to execute that vision.
(15:52) Jeremy Au:
Right. And what's interesting is that obviously sharing about how Kauffman has provided you, I think, a new community, obviously want to, is obviously thinking through your work and the career as well as some of the skills needed to think about the investment thesis. From your perspective, what do you think about Kauffman Fellows in terms of skills building? Memo writing? Do you feel like that's relevant or do you think it's a different plane altogether?
(16:15) Gita Rusmida Sjahrir:
Of course, we have resources for that but I think it's just so much more than that, and I like that when I went in, I ended up feeling challenged more about me as a whole. My values, my vision those parts were challenged way more than just the writing and the technical skills, because technical skills, when you look at Kauffman fellows, many of us already have a Master's degree or PhD so it's not, technically, we don't have the background already.
So, it's more about how you optimize that. Because in the end, writing and I am, or any of that as a technical skill, if you really want to improve it to the next level, you yourself have to improve to the next level, right? Basically, I really believe your organization, fund, company, whatever it is, can only grow as much as you grow. So, a lot of the issues that I had back then when I was a founder, and the issues I see a lot of founders have now, is simply maybe they have not grown enough to help their company grow or I have not grown enough to help my company grow. It's very different to take a company from ideation to revenue, but then have a 1,000,000 ARR company versus 100,000 ARR company. Different leadership skill sets, and different management skill sets.
And I think so much of the knowledge that I'm getting from Kauffman is more about how you level up. How do you break your own upper limit, which is a concept that so many of us have when you're like, hey, I feel so stuck. I never got better, quote unquote. Hey, how come? Like, Every time things are about to get better, it fails. Oh, hey, how come? I never get to be like that guy. I can be as good as him. But when we're in such great positions such as running a company, or being part of a fund, or being the founding members of a company, we're already in a situation where, you're just so much more blessed than so many of the population that really, after a while, maybe it's you holding yourself back.
And, yeah, we do it all the time with lots of stuff, and could be limiting beliefs, could be like baggage, could be trauma, could be whatever it is where we go. And we probably say it, not realizing it. Like we go, Hey I don't know. I don't think you can run a successful career and be a great husband or a great wife. I don't think you can be a great parent and also manage a huge fund. We probably have so many of these running around in the back of our mind and they hold us back from really leveling up in life, right? Whatever leveling up looks like, because leveling up doesn't also mean you become a billionaire. It could also mean maybe you just retire early and lead an idyllic country lifestyle. Who knows? But it requires a lot of self-awareness and a lot of people, including me.
Well, I used to just live my life on a checklist-to-checklist basis. You know, new goal unlocks. Okay, let's go to the next goal, not even realizing if I want those goals. Not even realizing if I like what I'm doing, really. But getting the validation from other people and like, list and, what people say in society and going, hey, that means I'm doing well, not really questioning, hey, are these other people's metrics or are they your metrics, Gita? Whose is it?
(19:26) Jeremy Au:
(19:26) Gita Rusmida Sjahrir:
And I think, you know, I think the program really challenges me in that are these my metrics or are they other people's metrics? Are these my definition of success or am I just following other people's definitions? Is this the race that I even want to do? Or am I just like joining a race? Because I keep thinking that is the race everyone should do. What are these shoulds, right? And so it's about that.
(19:48) Jeremy Au:
Yeah. One interesting thing we were discussing on the side before was also talking about how I think as part of the common fellows and as part of this global travel and community, you also realize that people have differing misconceptions about Indonesia as a country and where you come from. And so, I wanted to hear what are the common misconceptions that people have, about Indonesia from your perspective?
(20:09) Gita Rusmida Sjahrir:
Sure. I've also had the huge privilege of working with the Coordinating Ministry of Maritime and Investment Affairs on their climate policies in their climate task force. So I have had almost 2 years of experience working with the public sector. All of this is purely voluntary because I like putting myself into free internship positions and
(20:32) Jeremy Au:
Hey, you're saving the world.
(20:33) Gita Rusmida Sjahrir:
And it's been super interesting seeing both the public and private sector view of Indonesia. So Indonesia, as we all know has been fairly blessed with not going through a recession. So strong economic growth, inflation under check at 5.1, 5.2%. So everything in the last several years, especially during the pandemic has boded well for Indonesia's economic condition at the same time. No, is it Utopia? Absolutely not. Indonesia has a ton of issues. You can probably Google one right now about our air pollution, but that's why it's so important to not just see what's right. The world is very black and white, and the world is very binary, like going, oh, screw the public sector, screw the private sector. It's actually so important that everyone work together and see where the values are aligned and where they intersect because so many of the best things that Indonesia have done right have been when the public and private sector worked together, collaboratively.
And that is something that I see in the last, I would say maybe 10 years, there have been more of a push of aligning public and private sector values and not have it be so divisive. I think a lot of the division that we see in politics today has also been because of political agendas when, in fact, almost everybody in Indonesia wants very similar things, if you think about it. We want a nice life for our family. We just have different definitions, of course, of what nice is. We also have different definitions of how we get it. But in the end, it's been fairly consistent that people want good education for their children, and good healthcare, and a lot of the struggle has been how to get there and how to define good enough healthcare. How do you define a good enough educational system? But I think the issue is when we look at any country or any region from 1 lens only, which is whatever social media or whatever news outlet tells you.
When I hear stuff about Indonesia, it's always, Oh, I hear you're all just really poor. I hear that you're all struggling and that's just always one part of the equation. Do people struggle? Yes. Is there poverty? Sure. Just like pretty much anywhere on earth. But are there also huge achievements by a country that as an electoral democracy is only 25 years old since 1998, when we took out the dictator Suharto? Absolutely. You cannot deny that a 25-year-old country now become almost $5,000 GDP per capita per capita. That's a massive achievement. In a lot of places deposed a dictator would take many more decades until they're able to achieve the level of economic growth and political stability that Indonesia has today.
Now, if even we're thinking of political stability just think about it. It's only been an electoral democracy for 25 years. Yes, it's one of the biggest in the world for that. Also, it's so important to not look at politics in Indonesia or in any other country, to be honest, using your lens. So I get a lot of, for example, journalists from Western countries asking, Oh, but if one person gets elected, then the other policies in the past will all go to hell and die. And it's okay. We also don't experience the level of hyperpolarization that a lot of Western countries have, which honestly, probably they have because they have hundreds of years of political history.
(23:55) Jeremy Au:
(23:56) Gita Rusmida Sjahrir:
Large GDP per capita you know, 75,000. Hello, that's very different. They're at a stage where in a strange way, they can afford to cleave themselves into two sometimes, right? Because, for example, the entire economy of California is already bigger than the entire economy of Indonesia. It's $1 Trillion in Indonesia and California is $1.5 T trillion. So, in a way, places like the United States or maybe the UK even, they can probably split and maintain two fully functioning countries. And that's when, in that sense, they can afford so much hyperpolarization, which is something that Indonesia in general just doesn't have.
So, every time people go, Yeah, you're all so unstable. I'm like, alright, let me set the scene for you. If in the U.S., Obama and Trump go head to head. Let's say Obama wins and then hires Trump to be one of his ministers. And then Trump ended up endorsing Obama. Can you even imagine that scenario unfolding? And they're like, oh, absolutely not. And I'm like, okay, that happened in Indonesia. That really did. Two people went head to head. One won, which was President Jokowi, and then he invited the guy who lost to work in his cabinet. And this guy who lost ended up being Pau Jokowi's supporter now.
Can you even imagine that happening? So this is what I mean when I say the country is just not the type to have this deep hyperpolarization that is lasting.
(25:23) Jeremy Au:
Yeah. Bad news makes for good headlines. And I think that what you describe is nice and sweet and it doesn't give me that clicking feeling. I want to see things going down in flames. I want to see knives and betrayal. You know, I mean. I think there's so much going on in Indonesia and I think these people just kind of like, I don't know what's the word. Like this one, I see the bad stuff. And of course, bad stuff happens, like you said, but you know, you got to look at the broader arc, right?
I think what was interesting, of course, it's also the news is often set in the context of the US-China dynamic. So everything's coming through that prism nowadays. So yeah, I was reading CNN, it's always Singapore, is it choosing America or China, right? And it's, you know, change Singapore for any country, right? It's like Laos, Cambodia, Philippines. It was, everything's kind of really going through that prism right now, which is actually interesting because it also reminds me how much of my media diet is American-centric, in that sense.
(26:15) Gita Rusmida Sjahrir:
(26:15) Jeremy Au:
I mean, if you're reading the New York Times or Wall Street Journal, or even The Economist, which is very British, but it's still a very Western perspective.
(26:22) Gita Rusmida Sjahrir:
It is. That is such a good point. And I hate to say it because I went to school in the US a lot. I went for my undergrad. Two of my master's degrees are from the U. S. That's so much. So much of my news and not just political or economic news, even entertainment news has come from a very Western lens. And I have to remind myself all the time to look at whatever situation I'm in the way it is, rather than the way I think it should be or the way I think that other countries have done it better. Because the reality is the reality. I'm not saying you shouldn't make things better. You should 100 percent make things better, but it's so important to not always look at things using our very limited lens and be very aware that all of us do have a limited lens.
I have a limited lens. I definitely don't know enough about the country like someone who has only gone to school in the country and has only worked in the country and has probably never left the country. So we all have very different lenses. And so much of it is just balancing out all of our perspectives and never, just never having to be. There's this great saying like, would you rather be right or have a relationship? Would you rather be right or foster friendships?
(27:38) Jeremy Au:
Why is that such a tough question?
(27:40) Gita Rusmida Sjahrir:
Like why are we going down this road?
(27:45) Jeremy Au:
Why do we need a relationship? But I couldn't be always right.
(27:47) Gita Rusmida Sjahrir:
The thing is like, now in my meetings in the public sector, I also meet with other public sector workers from other countries. I negotiate with governments from other countries. I'm like, I listen to their viewpoints. I see how they view us. And yeah, sometimes you realize that we're all just very committed in how we see things and that can be as simple as just to myself and reminding myself of my master of public administration, a master that I have been very dogged and pursuing is to remind myself that all of these social problems are wicked problems. They're very complex. They're rarely just one side. They're hugely very nuanced. They encapsulate lots of people's viewpoints thought processes values and logic.
(28:32) Gita Rusmida Sjahrir:
And just once, I keep telling myself that, I also find it much easier to not demonize any one cause or any one person. Because it doesn't, honestly, it doesn't help anything and it also simplifies things to the point where it doesn't help the situation. For example, to be honest, the air pollution in Jakarta is really terrible. I can't deny that. It is really bad. Period. The end. But just like the situation back then in Beijing, it's not about saying, oh, if you do 1 thing, it'll make everything right. Unfortunately, to tackle a complex, wicked problem, like air pollution, you need to do all the things you need to do. I don't know, 8 things and you need to do those 8 things very well. And that's why it gets very very challenging. And that is really how we look at any country, just understand that we're only looking probably 1 way. And I feel that because I just came back from Kenya, which was a huge wake-up call for me. I ended up going to Kenya for a Kauffman summit and Meg Whitman is now the U.S. ambassador to Kenya she said that I think of Africa back then when I was working at Hewlett Packard, only 1 percent of the time now that I'm here, I wonder why not more companies think of a more thought out global strategy, right?
Sometimes, unfortunately, it requires us to meet someone from that place. Be there to understand anything at all. If I just make a conclusion about Kenya, knowing whatever I Google, I probably might just end up with sensationalistic news or mainly negative things rather than seeing for myself how people there are very driven. The young people are very energetic. They are trying so hard to get a better education and things like that are just things that, you're right, Jeremy. No news is thinking of putting that because they have a paywall and they need to get paid. So, what do you get out of sharing these things that are probably not that sexy, not that sensationalistic, but actually very hopeful? And hope is something that, thank goodness from my lens as an Indonesian living in Indonesia, I see a lot of.
(30:38) Jeremy Au:
Wow. I think that's a great way to wrap on and I'd love to summarize the three big takeaways I got from this conversation. First of all, thank you so much for sharing about your professional transition from founder to VC and also a lot of the experiences from both sides of the table and thinking through quite carefully about what experience you would want, have wanted as a founder, but also I think that difficulties actually of how to be a VC who's thinking about it and trying to improve and iterate on that. So it was very nice to hear about how you are writing and debriefing and thinking to yourself how you can improve every meeting that you're having. So, really great sharing about that, and I really empathize with it.
Secondly, thanks so much for sharing about the Kauffman Fellows. It's a very low-profile fellowship for people in venture capital. So I think it was nice to hear about your experience about what you took away from it, but also what you experienced researching and eventually joining and experiencing the program.
Lastly, thanks so much for sharing the misconceptions about Indonesia as a market, and talking at a very high level about how people should be breaking out of their limited views, out of the bubbles, and also recognizing the influences and incentives that shape a lot of the news environment around us. So I thought it was nice to hear about your own personal experience sharing about the Indonesia experience from a policy with several examples, about air pollution, about politics, and your own personal lived experience as well. So on that note, thank you so much for sharing.
(31:54) Gita Rusmida Sjahrir:
Thank you so much. Thank you so much for inviting me. And I hope for anyone who's really curious about Indonesia, you can just visit, you can just travel there and maybe see for yourself what is going on. Yeah. Or at the very least, just reach out to a lot of the great founders and investors we have in the region. You can find them and so many of us are very keen to talk more about Indonesia and share with you what we see and what we experience on the ground.
(32:22) Jeremy Au: