From the entrepreneur’s desk: Thank you 2017, thank you Tiket.com

Natali Ardianto
Natali Ardianto is seen here with wife Nuniek Tirta Sari (to his immediate right) and Tiket.com employees. Photo: Natali's Facebook page

2017 has been a great year for me and my family. There are a lot of huge milestones I have achieved in 2017, but the ultimate milestone for me was the acquisition of Tiket.com by Blibli.com, a Djarum company.

But before we get there, I wanted to share with you how we started.

In 2011, seven co-founders started Tiket.com. We went to see more than 20 different investors, all of which rejected our plea for investment. Most probably the reason is because we only have Powerpoint slides and financial forecast in Excel without any working prototype.

So when we finally received the investment on August 2011, it was a huge stroke of luck to find an investor who had the same vision as we are.

I was 30 years old at that time, and I was the oldest of the seven. Dimas, my co-founder, was 22 years old.

No more than two years later, three of the co-founders decides to exit and started their own company. For me personally, it was a big loss. I tried a lot of times to convince them to not go, but to no avail. Me, Wenas, Dimas and Gaery were what’s left from the initial co-founders.

We were very lucky to have pak FS and pak YM (who we affectionately call him Opung) as our mentors. If it were not for these two mentors, I don’t think Tiket.com will be as big as we are right now.

Opung then stepped in as the CEO of the company. He was 62 years old at that time. Opung is a very special mentor for me, as he gave me knowledge and insights in running the company and also personal life.

When we argue about certain decisions and reached a deadlock, he usually says “Pikiranmu belum sampai.” (The way you think is not there yet). When he says that, we usually stopped and wait for the result, usually comes after 6–24 months later, and realized he was right!

He is also the person who motivates me that being a retiree at a young age is not a great motive. At his age, he still drive his car by himself from Ciputat to Kuningan. He can remember names much more that I can. He can go to different places & meetings and not break a sweat. When we had annual meetings for three consecutive days, from 8 am to 11 pm, he attended the meeting the whole time, and the crazy stuff is that he is the most active attendee at the meeting!

I remember my grand parents had dementia, where your mind was trapped in the ’70s, and don’t remember the present time. It’s so scary for me. Thus now I know that your brain needs to exercise daily. Never stop thinking.

And being productive doesn’t end on the age of 55, or any year for that matter. You can be productive up until the end of your time.

Fast forward to 2016, we were finally thinking of raising fund. After 5 years running the company from seed capital, we are now ready to raise our next series of fund.

But we were so picky on picking our next partner as investor, that it took us almost a full year to find our next investor. We finally found one. But instead of raising fund, we decided to accept the investor request in the form of acquisition. We all exited.

A lot of people asked me, why am I willing to exit from a company that I build from scratch. Little that they know, our competitor is gaining traction, and is starting to go far ahead of us.

We can raise fund and have a minority of our stake diluted, but what would happen is that we don’t think the money that we raise will be enough to give us a fighting chance.

Thus, through acquisition, the company that acquired us can give their full and best effort to compete with our competitor in term of resources and also financial support.

So, we exited. And it was a win-win for us and the acquirer.

It’s now 29 December 2017, six months later. A lot of changes has been done for Tiket.com, internally and externally. We hired a lot of great talents, beefing up the managerial level, and the quality of the people is just astounding.

I have reached a level where I can delegate all tasks to my managers, and I can finally fire myself.

It’s time for me to go.
2018 will be the year for me without Tiket.com as my last name. I am back on my own now.

So what’s next for me?

Hundreds of resolutions came up to my mind. One of them is to sleep well.

For almost six years, I sleep at 3 am everyday.

You can ask my wife Nuniek Tirta Sari to confirm this. Even in the early days, I get so excited and can code for 48 hours straight. Now I can finally have the chance to sleep early.

Me and my wife now also had the chance to angel invest in seven different companies, and I now have the time to think for these companies.

Before this, all I can think of is Tiket.com Tiket.com Tiket.com. I am always amazed to people that can run more than one company at a time. I think they have limitless energy. For me, this one company already absorb a whole lot of energy.

Learning new stuff. In the last one year, I bought a book about Android development, use online course to learn about Javascripting and Node.js, but none of these are done. Now I finally had the chance to learn again and finish what I started.

And on this January-March 2018, I registered to Algoritma’s Data Science Academy, a 35 days learning of data visualization and machine learning specialization. I joined the 3-days course and it blows my mind away. Didn’t realize Machine Learning is this advance.

How I think about Machine Learning before this was so obsolete!

End of March, I will also join an executive education on Berkeley Program in Data Science and Analytics (BPDSA), a 6 months learning journey into the world of applied data science and analytics.

That’s about it. At least I have mapped the first semester of 2018. I believe a lot of things will change in six months. Who knows, someone might offer me something so exciting to start a new venture that I can’t resist, and start my fourth company. No one knows, I for sure don’t know.

But one thing for sure, I will finally have my own me time, which is trying a lot of different stuff and research.

Thank you Tiket.com, the entrepreneurial journey is truly awesome and amazing. I can’t thank enough of all the 300 people in Tiket.com for their inspiration and perspiration.

Ardianto is the former co-founder and CTO of Tiket.com, Golfnesia.com and Urbanesia.com. This post originally appeared on Medium. It has been republished here with permission.