Kartini Day Reflections: Stories of Resilience and Innovation from Female Startup Founders

Empowering female founders: navigating gender bias and building success

Antler Indonesia

April 21, 2024
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On this special occasion of Kartini Day, we embark on a journey to shine a spotlight on the remarkable female founders within the Antler portfolio. Kartini Day holds profound significance as it commemorates the legacy of Raden Ajeng Kartini, a pioneer for women's rights and empowerment in Indonesia.

In the spirit of Kartini's vision, we celebrate the courage, resilience, and innovation of female entrepreneurs who are shaping the future of business and technology. Join us as we delve into the inspiring stories of these trailblazing women who are making waves in the startup ecosystem.

From tackling pressing societal issues to revolutionizing industries with groundbreaking solutions, these female founders exemplify the spirit of Kartini by fearlessly pursuing their dreams and creating positive change in the world.

The Inspiring Journey of Debbie Winardi, CEO of Eten Technologies

From a young age, Debbie Winardi, Co-founder & CEO of Eten Technologies, harbored an innate desire to create something from scratch, driven by an unwavering determination to challenge the status quo. This steadfast determination motivated her to transition from the corporate world to the realm of entrepreneurship.

“I've always challenged the status quo. I've consistently identified areas where processes can be enhanced, spanning various industries, companies, or departments. That's why I firmly believe that there are still opportunities to make Indonesia, and beyond, a better place,” said Debbie.

This belief has been the motivation behind Debbie's decision to venture beyond the stable corporate world and into entrepreneurship. In the startup arena, female founders are still relatively limited, and the spectrum of startups led by women can vary significantly. Some delve into tech startups, while others pursue more conventional ventures. In Indonesia, female founders often gravitate towards industries like beauty or fashion. However, there's been a recent surge in their visibility, a promising development.

“We're witnessing a growing number of female founders emerging as inspirations for other women to embark on entrepreneurship journeys. Yet, compared to male founders, there remains a significant gap. Simply perusing photos from startup events reveals that about 90% of attendees are typically male. There's still a considerable distance to traverse for female founders,” observed Debbie.

Personally, Debbie remains a loyal advocate for equality. She maintains that entrepreneurship is a matter of merit rather than gender. Both men and women can succeed as entrepreneurs, provided they possess the requisite skills and drive.

“However, I've noticed that female founders sometimes feel out of place or hesitant at general events. They may perceive themselves as less confident or skilled compared to their male counterparts. They exhibit greater openness to participation in events tailored for women. There's undoubtedly a positive trend towards inclusivity for female founders in recent times.”

Debbie offers some encouraging advice for aspiring female founders: believe in yourselves. Entrepreneurship involves numerous challenges and sacrifices, yet self-belief, even as a female, is paramount. Data indicates that female founders often outperform their male counterparts in business. Therefore, begin with self-belief. That's the most crucial element.

Laura Lukito's Entrepreneurial Journey with ArkoPay

Laura Lukito's journey began far from home, in the corporate landscape of Seattle. Despite a successful career, she felt a sense of dissatisfaction with the conventional 9-to-5 routine. Driven by a desire for something more fulfilling, she ventured into entrepreneurship.

But the entrepreneurial spark within Laura wasn't merely a product of circumstance—it was deeply rooted in her family's legacy of innovation. Inspired by her father's entrepreneurial endeavors and her sister's startup venture, Laura made the bold decision to return home to Indonesia and pursue her own business idea. Joining Antler, provided her with invaluable insights into the Indonesian market and revealed significant gaps waiting to be filled.

For Laura, gender has never been a barrier to pursuing her entrepreneurial dreams. She firmly believes that anyone, regardless of gender, should be free to pursue their ideas and passions without constraints. This mindset has propelled her forward, even in male-dominated industries, where she and her co-founder have defied stereotypes and expectations with their startup, ArkoPay.

For Laura, belief in her vision and herself has been paramount. She emphasizes the importance of expanding one's network and surrounding oneself with supportive mentors and peers. This support system is invaluable in navigating the inevitable challenges of entrepreneurship and staying motivated in the face of adversity.

“Through mentorship and shared experiences, I have gained valuable insights into navigating the complexities of entrepreneurship in Indonesia. While securing funding can be challenging, I remain undeterred, knowing that these support systems play a crucial role in empowering women in business,” said Laura.

As Laura continues to pave the way with ArkoPay, she remains committed to providing essential financial solutions for small to medium-sized construction businesses in Indonesia.

Sastya Wardani's Journey to Empower Women in Entrepreneurship with PLans

As an entrepreneur in Indonesia, the journey often begins within the family. Fortunately, Sastya Wardani's upbringing was devoid of gender biases. She and her brother were encouraged to pursue their dreams without restrictions based on gender norms.

“My mother instilled in me the importance of maintaining autonomy and self-expression, emphasizing that women should possess their own identity and not be reliant solely on others' perceptions,” said Sastya.

Growing up, Sastya realized that not everyone had the same experiences. Even among her closest friends, she noticed disparities in how girls and boys were treated. While some challenges might be unique to women, such as those related to pregnancy, others might not be understood by men. This realization fueled her determination to address these issues, not just for herself but for others as well.

“One thing that stands out in conversations among female founders is our unique perspective. Our emotional intelligence and empathy enable us to see problems from different angles, often uncovering solutions that may have been overlooked,” said Sastya.

Despite feeling constrained at times, recent years have shown promising signs of progress. The rise of the female founder movement and the support networks provided by fellow women in business have created opportunities for collaboration and empowerment.

Sastya's personal experience with Antler, for example, was devoid of the discrimination she encountered elsewhere. Their focus was on understanding her passion and the problem she aimed to solve, rather than irrelevant questions about her personal life.

For the long run, Sastya's advice for future fellow startup founders is: supporting each other is crucial in navigating the entrepreneurial landscape, especially when faced with challenges unique to female founders.

“While men may have established networks, it's essential for women to stick together and offer mutual support. By fostering an environment of openness and collaboration, we can overcome obstacles and achieve greater success,” said Sastya.

As Co-founder & CEO of PLans, Sastya's mission is to develop an AI-powered personal assistant for fertility and reproductive health. Through this platform, they aim to bridge the gap between patients and healthcare providers by offering simplified insights and guidance for monitoring and managing reproductive health. By empowering women to take control of their health, they contribute to their overall well-being and pave the way for a brighter, healthier future.

Christa Sabathaly's Journey from Google to SPUN and Empowering Women in Entrepreneurship

According to Christa Sabathaly, Co-founder & CEO of SPUN, the journey to becoming an entrepreneur wasn't about gender. It wasn't a question of whether being a woman meant she should or shouldn't pursue entrepreneurship. It was simply about following her passion and desire to make a difference beyond herself. However, her perspective began to shift during her time working at Google, where she spent years interacting with numerous C-level executives and founders, most of whom were men.

“This observation made me realize the significant gender gap in entrepreneurship within the industry. It prompted me to reflect on my own aspirations and the need for more opportunities for women to lead companies and make meaningful contributions. Despite the challenges, I felt inspired to pursue entrepreneurship even further,” said Christa.

One aspect that stands out, especially in the entrepreneurial journey, is the sense of being a minority, particularly in residency programs. During her Antler Residency days, for example, out of around 70 participants, there were only about 10 women. While this can feel daunting at times, it also fosters a strong sense of camaraderie among them.

“I believe we should leverage this solidarity and support each other in our entrepreneurial endeavors. Whenever we meet other women entrepreneurs, we should share experiences, offer advice, and build connections,” said Christa.

From the perspective of aspiring entrepreneurs, particularly women, good work goes beyond just achieving success. It's about personal growth and well-being throughout the journey. As a woman, she often feels a sense of responsibility towards others, which can make the entrepreneurial journey feel even more challenging. Therefore, it's essential to be extremely smart with time management and prioritize self-care.

Spun is a platform dedicated to modernizing visa applications and requests for travel abroad through AI technology and automation. Over the past three months, they have processed nearly 100 visa requests and can now handle requests from around the world to Indonesia.

Farah Savitri Hakim's Journey to Entrepreneurship with Lunash

As the Co-founder & CEO of Lunash, Farah Savitri Hakim's main inspiration to start an entrepreneurial journey comes from her mother. Growing up, she had the privilege of witnessing her mother manage the intricacies of running a business with grace, composure, and unwavering determination.

“She taught me the balance between being gentle yet incredibly resilient. When I was in elementary school, she made the bold decision to leave her full-time job to focus on her business and be there for me,” said Farah.

In her previous entrepreneurial endeavors, she often found herself inviting friends to join as business partners, only to realize that differences in business acumen could pose significant challenges. However, her journey took a transformative turn when she joined Antler. Beyond their professionalism, Antler provided invaluable support, particularly for female founders like herself. The camaraderie among female founders in Antler has fostered an environment of mutual support and empowerment.

Now, Farah leads a fintech startup, Lunash, with her three male Co-founders. Lunash specializes in leveraging AI in a different way. It offers a fresh and ethical approach to loan recovery, tailored specifically for the nuances of Indonesian society. Indeed, the primary challenges didn't come from her peers but rather from external sources projecting doubts about her capabilities.

“However, I've been incredibly fortunate to find support, particularly through platforms like Antler. The encouragement and belief from others have been truly inspiring, shaping a journey marked by camaraderie and growth,” said Farah.

For those who want to become female entrepreneurs, Farah shares her tips. Because the journey itself is very difficult. It's very long and full of challenges. Sometimes, it can be very lonely. If we don't even love or believe in ourselves, that's the biggest mistake. The willingness to learn again. Not just to learn, but also to unlearn and then learn again. That's the most important thing.

Cynthia Susinto's Journey from Problem Identification to Entrepreneurship with PinJ

The journey into entrepreneurship often begins with a desire to tackle overlooked problems, and for Cynthia Susinto, it was no different. As the Co-founder & CEO of PinJ, Cynthia was inspired by a pressing issue in Indonesia, one that held immense potential for positive change.

“As a woman navigating the entrepreneurial landscape, I felt a deep connection to this challenge, seeing it as an opportunity to make a meaningful difference,” said Cynthia.

The problem she identified wasn't just an ordinary obstacle; it was a complex issue that had remained unsolved for too long. What struck her the most was the lack of successful attempts to address it. This realization fueled her determination to step forward and take action, not only for her own benefit but also to uplift the lives of others in her community.

In a male-dominated industry, Cynthia learned to navigate with confidence and resilience, refusing to let gender stereotypes define her capabilities. Instead, she embraced the inclusive spirit of the startup ecosystem, forging ahead with unwavering determination.

“Throughout my journey, I've faced numerous challenges, including the notable gender imbalance in both my target market and within my own company. Despite this, I've remained undeterred, seeing each obstacle as an opportunity to defy expectations and chart my own course,” said Cynthia.

While having female founder friends isn't essential for success, Cynthia found immense value in their camaraderie and support. Their unique perspectives and shared experiences have served as a source of motivation, propelling her forward on her entrepreneurial path.

“Today, I'm proud to see our startup, PinJ, making significant strides toward our vision. Since securing investment from Antler in 2022, we've overcome obstacles and successfully launched our application, marking the beginning of a new chapter,” said Cynthia.

Cynthia added that in PinJ's first year of operation, they established partnerships and onboarded their initial user base, laying the groundwork for future growth. With the support of investors, including their recent partnership with BonBillo, they are poised to expand their services with prominent logistics companies like Lazada Logistics and Blitz Logistics.

Ready to launch your startup journey with us? Find out more about Antler in Indonesia here.

Antler Indonesia

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