LYKE: What Does A Start-Up Entail?

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Bastian Purrer, Founder and CEO of fashion-tech app LYKE, shines the light on the many challenges a start-up faces in Indonesia and tips on how to improve your own start-up.

By Lee Ying Ying

Our digital world is filled with countless creative innovations attempting to solve even the slightest problems. Open the App Store on your phone and you’ll be overwhelmed with thousands of apps. Let’s talk about e-commerce and fashion, for example. When it comes to apps that work as a marketplace for these huge and disruptive industries, you’d think of ASOS, Zalora, or Ezbuy.

But here’s the difference: LYKE not like ASOS or any of the others. LYKE is “mobile-first”, according to founder and CEO Bastian Purrer, and they’re not planning to open a webshop either.

The former Global Chief Marketing Officer of Zalora continues: “LYKE offers a personalised experience based on your preferences, making it easier to discover and buy goods compared to any other e-commerce app in the region.”

Think of LYKE as a mall with shops – it helps each shop increase their sales, while enabling customers to securely roam the mall conveniently and comfortably at the same time. In summary, LYKE:

  1. Provides e-commerce companies a mobile storefront to showcase their products.
  2. Doesn’t hold their own inventory – customers buy directly from the shop.
  3. Delivers to your doorstep where you can pay with Cash-on-Delivery.
  4. Doesn’t compete with their sellers on products or web traffic.

Not all start-ups succeed on their first try. The initial journey is tough, but sustaining themselves and reaching the top is like walking through a snake pit while carrying Pandora’s box.

LYKE is currently only available in Indonesia. Although Indonesia is currently being touted as the most valuable emerging market, political and lifestyle challenges await, thanks to the localised preferences juxtaposed against the global reach of social media. Content needs to be adjusted and spread within the blink of an eye. Marketing campaigns and promotions have to be time sensitive or risk being stale.

“Lots of people say that people in this region are particularly brand-obsessed, but this isn’t confirmed in our data, for example, in what people search for,” Bastian says. Instead, trust in online brands is a unique issue that poses a bigger challenge to this region – anyone who has ever bought anything online in Southeast Asia would know. “Thankfully, much progress has been made on the logistics front, which we believe can be the driver for faster e-commerce growth and benefit our platform approach in particular.”

“Adopt different strategies according to the market. The way consumers use social media to shop is unique to Southeast Asia.”

Political challenges arise when it comes to foreign ownership in Indonesia and other countries. Bastian and his investors are not native Indonesians, and have faced the difficulties of bureaucratic hurdles against foreign ownership. “I think if countries want to foster entrepreneurship and create infrastructure conducive to start-ups, they need to make it easier to invest or start a company as a foreigner, and be willing to hire foreign experts who often bring along valuable expertise.”

“In companies that I worked for in the U.S., Singapore and Indonesia, I have seen again and again that protectionistic policies (discrimination by nationality) hurt start-ups a lot harder than it hurts established companies.”

To help your start-up overcome its challenges, we hear it from the former Global CMO of Zalora himself.

  1. For everyone working in start-ups, it’s important to be really convinced of your own product and like using it. Motivation can really take a toll if otherwise.
  2. Never underestimate the particular importance of mobile phones to consumers, and the extent and importance of social commerce.
  3. Prioritising happiness as a part of your work encourages you to believe you’ll do a better job yourself and work better as a team. Bastian drives to work with people that make him happy!
  4. Adopt different strategies according to the market. The way consumers use social media to shop is unique to Southeast Asia. Many companies have tried to win the market using the same approach that has worked in Europe and the U.S., but it’s a completely different environment both on the consumer and supply sides.

Images by Lyke