‘Ken & Kaskus’ Tells a Startup Success Story
Success did not come overnight when Ken Dean Lawadinata, a 27-year-old university student at the time, decided to invest in Kaskus, an internet forum site.
A new book highlights how the chief executive of Indonesia’s largest online community and booming trading hub leveraged youthful ambition and passion into an Indonesian success story.
Established in 1999, Kaskus today boasts more than 4.5 million registered users and 601 million postings.
Ken’s story of how Kaskus became an online giant in Indonesia is told in a newly released biography “Ken & Kaskus” by Alberthiene Endah. In it, she argues that when Ken joined the Kaskus team in 2008, he and one of the co-founders, Andrew Darwis, started on a trajectory that would lift the business from a community into an online empire.
Ken learned of Kaskus after meeting Andrew in the US, who convinced Ken to invest. While Ken had neither capital — he managed to persuade his parents to lend him money — nor experience, he threw himself into the project with faith and the willingness to work hard.
The story of “Ken & Kaskus” draws attention to Ken’s humble beginnings. He attributes his success, despite challenges along the way, to the support of his family.
As a business student studying abroad, Ken was inquisitive and engaged. Ultimately, he did not complete his degree, which he explains by saying that one of the lessons he took from the experience was to seize an opportunity when it comes along.
This wisdom led Ken to Seattle, where a chance meeting with Andrew would change his life.
Although Ken invested in Kaskus a number of years after its launch, much work still remained: Their first offices were pitifully small, and the website and team needed to undergo a series of changes, developments and upgrades before Kaskus began to take off in a big way.
Ken’s role involved bold business decisions to collaborate with other investors and companies, for which he takes full responsibility.
The concept of startups and online business, while no longer foreign, remains fairly new to Indonesians. Despite connecting the archipelago to a bigger market and seemingly infinite opportunities, it takes someone with vision and skills to build an idea into an empire.
“Ken & Kaskus” casts the company’s chief executive, Ken, as standing among the ranks of only a handful of other young online entrepreneurs. Alberthiene Endah brings out an expressive freedom in Ken’s personality that radiates through the page and resonates with the defining characteristic of Kaskus itself.
“I hope this book will be an inspiration to young Indonesian entrepreneurs to work harder and be persistent with their bright ideas,” Adi Kusma, president director of Biznet Networks said.
To those searching for a tidy Horatio Alger narrative, the story of “Indonesia’s Youngest CEO” offers the reassuring takeaway message that passion and hard work is always a powerful winning combination; that success awaits after a long road ahead; that it is always important to know your roots, believe in what you do, and never give up. Whether one reads “Ken & Kaskus” as a collection of stories meant to contain inspire or aggrandize, it definitely counts as entertainment.
Ken & Kaskus
By Alberthiene Endah
Published by Gramedia