Data shows most successful Indonesian startup founders took non-tech majors at university

The latest report from Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Ranking 2017/2018 stated that two Indonesian universities successfully got into higher position. They are University of Indonesia and Bandung Technological Institute. UI went up from rank 325 to 277 and ITB went up from 401 to 331.

For Indonesian youth, deciding where they want to continue their higher education is a challenge. Several questions that came into consideration are:

  • Which university should I attend?
  • Should I study in Indonesia or outside Indonesia?
  • What major should I take to make sure I get a job after graduating?
  • And much more.

But the big question we need to answer together is whether the university, location and major is the only thing that determines our success.

At iPrice, we collaborated with Venturra, one of the most active venture capital firms in Indonesia to compare 50+ startups company and 100+ founders to analyse their education background. To define success, we only take the startups that at least already received series-A funding.

Based on our research, we got three interesting findings of startups founders in Indonesia and their educational background.

Bandung Technological Institute (ITB) produced the most founders

From more than 100 founders that we analyzed, 14 of them came from ITB. Bukalapak founders, Achmad Zaky, Nugroho Herucahyono and Muhamad Fajrin studied there. The other founders that also studied here are the COO of Kudo, Agung Nugroho; the CEO of Snapcart, Raynazran Royono; the Co-Founder of Fabelio, Marshal Tegar Utoyo and many more.

Bina Nusantara and Harvard are in the same position. Both produced eight successful founders. Some names that came from Bina Nusantara are the CEO of Tokopedia; the CEO of Qlapa, Benny Fajarai and the CEO from Tripvisto, Benardus Sumartok. From Harvard, we can see some names like Nadiem Makarim, the CEO of Go-Jek, the CEO of Traveloka, Ferry Unardi; and the co-founders of Modalku, Raynold Wijaya and Kelvin Teo.

In the third position, we have Purdue University, which produced seven founders such as the CEO of Ruangguru, Adamas Syah Devara, who also studied at Harvard; CEO of Berrybenka, Jason Lamuda; and the CEO of Sribu, Ryan Gondokusumo.

In the fourth position, we have Stanford that produced Five founders. Some famous names are Derianto Kusuma, the CTO of Traveloka; and Oby Sumampouw, the Co-Founder of Cermati.

Last but not least we have University of Indonesia, which UI produced four founders. They are Natali Ardianto the CTO of Tiket.com; the Chief of Product Offficer of Ruangguru, Iman Usman; and Hijup’s CEO, Diajeng Lestari.

Other than those six universities, we also have several universities that produce more than two successful founders such as Taruma Negara University and Pelita Harapan University.

From those data, we can conclude that from the quality of the human resources that local universities produced are also very competitive with the one that studied in international universities. Proven that ITB manages to produce more successful startups founders compared to Harvard, Purdue, and Stanford.

58 per cent of startup founders took non-tech majors

Fifty-nine out of 102 startups founders took non-tech majors, and the rest (43) took tech-related majors.

From those 59, the popular majors are Finance (8), Industrial Engineering (6), Economics (5), Marketing (5) and Accounting (4).

Some founders who took finance are the Co-Founder of GoJek, Michaelangelo Moran, and the Co-Founder of Sociolla, John Rasjid.

Some founders that took Industrial Engineering are the CEO of Snapcart, Reynazran Royono, and the CEO of Moka, Haryanto Tanjo.

As Economics majors, we have the CEO of Bhinneka, Hendrik Tio; the CEO of HaloDoc, Jonathan Sudharta; and board director Qraved Adrian Li.

Some founders who took computer science are the CEO of Bukalapak, Achmad Zaky; the CEO of Printerous Kevin Osmond; the CEO of Agate, Arief Widhiyasa; the CEO of Kudo, Albert Lucius, Chief Communication Officer of Tiket.com, Mikhale Gaery Undarsa; and much more.

Most of the people will think that in order to found a tech-based startup, we need to take tech related major. But, in reality, the majority of the founders didn’t have a tech background.

Majority of the founders studied abroad for their higher degree

On the bachelor level, from 102 founders, 58 studied abroad. On the master level, 32 founders studied abroad, and on the MBA level only two studied in Indonesia, while the rest (16) studied abroad.

From this data, we can see that at the bachelor level, local universities almost produce as many founders as international universities. But, on the graduate level, there were many founders that decide to continue their study abroad.

For example, the Fabelio CEO Marshall Tegar Utoyo took his bachelors degree at the ITB and continued his masters at the University of Sydney.

Investree CEO Adrian A. Gunadi took his bachelors degree at the University of Indonesia and continued his master to Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University.

Another example is Iman Usman, Chief of Product at Ruangguru — he took his bachelors degree at the University of Indonesia and continued his masteral at the Teachers College of Columbia University.

On the MBA level, the majority of the founders studied abroad, sixteen vs two. Having an MBA degree is a pride for most people. To take the MBA, there are more requirements that people need to fulfill compared when taking another masters degree. So, the majority of the people will take their MBA degree in a reputable university.

Based on the data we gathered, we can say that on the bachelor level, local universities can compete with the international universities. But, on the higher level such as master and MBA, there are a lot of things that the Indonesian government may need to improve in the education sector.

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