Shinta Witoyo Dhanuwardoyo : Indonesian Digital Trailblazer

With 23 years’ experience as a tech entrepreneur, Shinta Witoyo Dhanuwardoyo is a trailblazer whose expertise has been recognised by many.

Interview by Yani Lauwoie

The founder and CEO of Bubu.com an Indonesian full service data driven digital agency has one big goal: to help make her country a major player in the regional and global digital technology market.

Shinta’s career in digital technology began when she worked as a graduate assistant at her campus computer laboratory during her MBA studies at Portland State University in the United States.

“I was blown away by what the internet could do. I believed it would be bigger than what I saw at that time,” recalls Shinta, who had previously completed a bachelor’s degree in interior/ architecture at the University of Oregon.

Based on that belief, in 1996 Shinta decided to build Bubu.com, which started as a website development company. She had no formal educational background related to the field, being self-taught via the internet and through hands-on experience. This was not an issue for her, but convincing clients was very challenging.

“At that time the internet was not as huge as it is now. So, I had to educate my clients about the internet first and why they needed a website for their business,” says Shinta. “Finding staff was also another difficult task because Indonesia didn’t have many digital technology professionals,” she adds. Despite the challenges, she never wavered in her commitment to opening a digital path in Indonesia.

As well as Bubu.com, Shinta served as CEO of Plasa.com (now Blanja.com),a Telkom Indonesia-owned e-commerce marketplace, from 2008 to 2010; was a managing partner at Nusantara Ventures, a pioneering technology venture capital fund in Indonesia, from 2011 to 2013; and co-founded the Silicon Valley Asia Technology Alliance, a not-for-profit organisation (incorporated in 2014) whose mission is to provide a bridge for collaboration between the Indonesian technology industry and Silicon Valley.

Shinta’s wealth of experience in digital technology aligns with the progress of Bubu.com. In 2001, Bubu.com started the Bubu Awards, a prestigious competition for Indonesia’s digital scene. Ten years later, the Bubu Awards evolved to IDByte, the biggest digital event in the country, which aims to put Indonesia on the global digital map.

IDByte brings together leaders and executives from the world’s leading digital technology companies, such as Facebook, Google, Amazon and Twitter, on the one stage in Indonesia. Shinta said we can expect the next IDByte to be held in September this year.

The Bubu Awards and IDByte are two of many innovations that Bubu.com has initiated. It’s no surprise then that this company was named in Asia’s Top 100 most innovative companies and Global Top 100 companies in 2011 by US media company Red Herring.

Meanwhile, Shinta herself has received many accolades, including being named in GlobeAsia’s 99 Most Powerful Women 2017 and Forbes Indonesia Magazine’s Inspiring Women Honor Roll 2013. She also holds the prestigious position as Head of Digital Biz, E-Commerce & Startups in KADIN the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

There is no doubt the mother of two daughters feels extremely grateful for everything she has achieved. But her biggest dream is for the nation. That is why she is active as a mentor and angel investor in start-ups. Shinta also plans to launch a website that focuses on building an ecosystem for Indonesian start-ups. “This website will connect all the ecosystems that start-ups need, including angel investors and venture capital. We will provide information to help start-ups grow,” she explains.

Shinta Witoyo Dhanuwardoyo Shinta hopes that everything she does contributes to making Indonesia a major player on the digital scene. While the country is known globally for its uptake of digital technology, this has largely been as a consumer rather than a creator or provider.

“I want to see more Indonesian start-ups have regional and global success. It’s about time Indonesia is known as more than a digital consumer,” Shinta says.

The techpreneur’s busy schedule makes her a frequent flyer; she is regularly seen stepping onto a Garuda Indonesia plane. “Aside from the aircraft that are always in good condition, I love the services, particularly the friendliness of the cabin crew,” says Shinta before we say goodbye