Indonesia's Top Investor Nicko Widjaja Thinks Southeast Asian Investors Should Look at India Closely. Here's Why

Currently, MDI Ventures has 27 investments in over 10 countries. While in numbers, Indonesia has the highest start-ups from their portfolio, they also have presence in US, Singapore, Japan, India and Philippines
Entrepreneur Staff
Former Associate Editor, Entrepreneur India
3 min read

Nicko Widjaja with over than 10 years of career in tech investment, consumer internet, and corporate transformation has co-founded and invested in several companies span from tech companies to investment holding companies.

In 2015, Widjaja became the President Director and CEO of Metra Digital Innovation Ventures, Telkom Indonesia-backed corporate venture capital.

MDI Ventures, a corporate venture capital initiative by Telkom Indonesia, based in Jakarta with operations in Singapore and Silicon Valley, is an independent entity with its own funding processes.

It combines a VC model with services in providing companies from Telkom Group with access to operational assistance and help in building startups’ growth engine after making a financial investment.

The company invests in early and mid-stage companies globally. Its focus lies on investments in high growth business verticals to enhance digital experience in domains such as digital ads, payment solutions, cloud computing, big data, mobile apps and Internet of Things.

The Indonesia-based investment company boasts of investments at all stages from seed to post-IPO stage. Currently, MDI Ventures has 27 investments in over 10 countries. While in numbers, Indonesia has the highest start-ups from their portfolio, they also have presence in US, Singapore, Japan, India and Philippines.

Besides being an active investor, Widjaja is an industry observer and views the Southeast Asian ecosystem very conducive for startups’ growth.  

He sees Indonesia and India as potential partners when it comes to learning.

Indonesia needs to learn more from India, about the Indian ecosystem similar to the way Indonesians have been learning from the past. The Silicon Valley is about innovation but as far as talent is concerned, India has a better chance to pull the ecosystem,” believes Widjaja.

In his spare time, Widjaja gives lectures in top universities in Indonesia to share his experiences in entrepreneurship and tech investment. He is also an adjunct professor in UPH Business School, teaching various courses including Strategic Management, Entrepreneurship and Marketing.

While speaking about opportunities in Southeast Asia, Indonesia’s top investor Widjaja said, "When we see South East Asia’s history, we saw one company that was a Unicorn; it was a company worth 1 million dollars. Now we have 4 unicorns in Indonesia alone. With respect to India, its entire startup ecosystem was started in 2010 when it started growing at a fast pace because of the young demographic and rising middle class in 2012 giving rise to up to 18 unicorns.

He is bullish about India’s growth and thinks India’s size and population are its biggest strengths compared to other markets in Southeast Asia.

Widjaja thinks technology is the only driver right now in Indonesia. He finds infrastructure the second most exciting sector besides technology for Southeast Asia.

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