Indonesian ride-hailing giant Go-Jek is mulling over the possibility of spinning off its lifestyle and professional arm, Go-Life, into a separate business entity and raise its own funds, according to senior vice president Dayu Dara Permata.
Go-Life is a mobile app comprising four services: Go-Massage (home spa and massage service booking), Go-Clean (house-cleaning service booking), Go-Auto (vehicle maintenance service booking), and Go-Glam (beautician booking service). Since it was launched as a separate app from Go-Jek last year, it claims to have acquired 3 million users in 25 cities across Indonesia.
Speaking to DEALSTREETASIA, Dara said that the platform has grown to become one of Go-Jek’s most profitable products, prompting discussions within Go-Jek for the app to be separated from the on-demand business and “decide its own destiny”.
“We’ve been toying around with this idea. It’s just a matter of political will, when we want to do it, and the momentum. I cannot share much detail but the next three months are basically going to be an inflexion point for us. You will know the output of the discussion in the next three months,” said Dara, who founded and now leads Go-Life.
While discussions on the potential spin-off continue to take place, Dara said that the platform looks to continue its impressive growth under Go-Jek.
“We are going to launch at least eight new services, but we can’t disclose that yet. It is going to be very exciting and it will make us even bigger and hopefully grow 20 times this year alone,” Dara added.
In an exclusive interaction with this portal, Dara, who was a speaker at the recent Alpha Female event held by VC firm Alpha JWC, also speaks about the challenges for women to succeed in the male-dominated tech industry.
You founded Go-Life. How was that journey?
I was a member of the early Go-Jek management team in 2015, when it was turning from a small social enterprise to an online ojek company. My first year, I was focusing more on diversifying the services of Go-Jek into non-transportation (areas). The second year was about expanding into new regions. Now Go-Jek is available in more than 75 cities in Indonesia. We expanded from 10 to 75 (cities) in 16-18 months. The goal next is how to go deeper into second- and third-tier cities. We are now in all of the first tier cities. But there are 200 more cities with a population of more than 100,000 people that we need to be available in and that’s what we’re going to do this year.
My role now is back to diversifying services with Go-Life. Go-Life is the lifestyle and professional services arm of Go-Jek. It is the pioneer of on-demand professional services in Indonesia and by far the largest in Southeast Asia. We have 3 million users since we launched a year ago. We are available in 25 cities across Indonesia. This year we will try to get to Go-Jek’s number of 75 cities. Every week we open up in one or two new cities.
The business is very promising. It is one of the most profitable products out of all of Go-Jek’s more than 21 products. We have Go-Clean, Go-Massage, Go-Glam and Go-Auto.
Will there be any new services coming out this year?
We are going to launch at least eight new services, but we can’t disclose that yet. It is going to be very exciting and it will make us even bigger and hopefully help us grow 20 times this year alone.
What is the competition like?
There are so many players in the market and we really respect the competition as they keep us motivated. There are local players, national players and regional players.
Why were these services separated from the original Go-Jek app? What was the thinking behind it?
Two reasons actually – first for business reasons and second for technological reasons.
The reason from the business side is because we want to have a safe testing ground for us as a business to test the different business model. The separation allows Go-Life to venture into different revenue models outside the Go-Jek on-demand model, without creating confusion among the users.
Go-Jek’s is an on-demand model. The nature of the service is very much commoditized. But Go-Life is different, the services are a bit more personal. I care about who does my massage, for example. It requires a booking model like scheduling, unlike Go-Jek which is on-demand.
On technology, separation gives autonomy for Go-Life to launch its new features and products at its own pace. It also means that as Go-Jek grows and matures, the pace will get slower and slower.
Usually, if you are a new product, you want to have daily release and updates, but as your products mature, your release cycle might be slower, maybe fortnightly, if not monthly. Go-Life is all new products. If we have a different platform, then we can have our own speed in launching new features and new products. It also serves as a safe and secluded testing ground and minimises risk to the Go-Jek app. If we make mistakes with new products, which we will, it will not affect other more mature products.
Is it possible that Go-Life may detach itself from Go-Jek and become a separate business entity that will raise separate funds?
For us, the possibility is always there, and that applies to any product that Go-Jek has. If at any given point, we feel that a product is really promising and the only limit to its potential is attention-span of the management and maybe resource limitation, then it might be a good time to spin off and let them chart their own course and decide their own destiny. So, they can be as independent as they want, raise as much funding as they want, they can have full attention of the management team, whoever leads the product can then get resources somewhere else, not waiting for the same resources coming out from Go-Jek channel. So the opportunity is always there. We are not allergic to that option. As a matter of fact, we are always keen to explore, so I can say that it is completely possible.
We’ve been toying around with this idea. It’s just a matter of political will, when we want to do it, and momentum. I cannot share much details but the next three months are basically an inflexion point for us. You will know the output of the discussion in the next three months.
You are one of the few women in leadership position in tech companies. Do you think it is important that more women are involved and lead in this field? What additional qualities can women leaders bring to the table?
Simply put, it’s very important because half of the market is women and you cannot understand that segment unless women are represented well in your organization. In terms of trends, globally, women make 70 per cent decision on spending in the US. So we’re not only talking about women being half of the population, but also making 70 per cent of the purchase decision. If you think about household as one of the smallest units in our society, how much of the spending in each of the household is made by women, the mother?
Aside from understanding the segment, there are a lot of studies that have proven that a team or organization with a good representation of women in it — which is more than 40 per cent — they innovate better, they are more likely to gain higher market share, higher profitability and higher ROI. This is because diversity nurtures innovation. If it’s implemented well, it will bring business value.
What qualities are needed for women to thrive in this male-dominated field?
If there is a barrier for women to succeed, I never knew what it was until this study through an initiative called Wondertech that I kickstarted with five other female leaders also in the tech industry. So this initiative aims to empower women to reach top management positions.
The five of us thought that this industry will benefit from (increased) women participation and we need to turn around the negative stigma about the tech industry being a masculine industry where women cannot succeed. Part of the initiative is we want to find out what are the barriers for women to succeed.
We asked women in early management, middle management and chief management level, “Do you have barriers to succeed?” We found the perceived likelihood to succeed among women became smaller as we go up the levels.
There are three barriers admitted and acknowledged by women in male-dominated industries like technology. First is an individual barrier, a self-limiting belief as women feel that they don’t have the same likelihood to succeed. The second barrier is an organisational barrier. Women feel that organizations are not setting up women for success. The last is the societal barrier. They feel that the society is also not setting up women to succeed. For example, a negative association with successful women as though if you are successful, you are not a good mother.
What about Go-Jek, does it have certain policies in regards to gender equality and diversity?
I am proud of being part of Go-Jek. One of the reasons I joined Go-Jek is because Nadiem is very well aware of the benefits of diversity and he wanted women to be well-represented in the company. I wouldn’t say that this is the ideal state where everything is half male and half female in terms of representation but I can say that we are well above the industry average. So if you look at the entry level of Go-Jek, it is already 50-50. If there is any inclination, it would be 55 per cent male and 45 per cent female. That is already good compared to the industry average of around 30 per cent female.
At the middle management level, I can say that around 35 per cent of them are female. If you look at the higher management from VP to senior VP, then the number comes to around 17-18 per cent female. That’s higher than the industry standard which is around 7 per cent. We have gone far and we have been trying our best to achieve better representation. A lot of the things that we do include acknowledging unconscious bias at work, highlighting female role models so people see that women can succeed, and providing support systems for women so they have female and male mentors and coaches. There are also flexible hours, which is important for women because a lot have dropped out because they feel the work is too demanding and they don’t have enough time for the people they love.