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The Rise of the Super App

In the latest Dean’s Dialogue, Geoff Garrett speaks with Kevin Aluwi ’09, co-founder of Gojek, Indonesia’s biggest technology platform

February 24, 2021

If you’re anywhere in Indonesia, and need a ride across town, or want a package delivered, or simply want lunch from your favorite spot, you’ll open the Gojek app on your phone and wait a few minutes for the motorcyclist with the green helmet and vest to show up.

It sounds simple enough. But Gojek, the largest ride-sharing and deliver service in Indonesia, is also a growing multi-service tech platform in the region, with a user base of more than 170 million, spanning Indonesia to Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines. Launched in 2010, it today has a $10 billion valuation.  On the ground, its legions of green-helmeted motorcyclists are ubiquitous.

Marshall Dean Geoff Garrett spoke with Gojek co-founder Kevin Aluwi ’09, in a wide-ranging discussion about entrepreneurship, culture, technology and giving back to a community.

Garrett asked Aluwi to define his so-called “super-app,” that is, a mobile app with a number of separate business functionalities.  There’s nothing like it in the West, he noted.

“Think of Uber and UberEats, with PayPal attached, and Square, with Postmates as well,” said Aluwi. “These services are segmented in the U.S., for both marketing and cultural reasons.”  With most Indonesians being “mobile first,” they are at home with using one app for many different functions, he said.

With investors like Google and Facebook, China’s giant Tencent and prominent venture capital firms including Sequoia Capital and KKR, Gojek is growing quickly, constrained only by the challenge of building out a technical infrastructure.

“The availability of technical talent is still very nascent,” said Aluwi. “But I strongly feel that this can potentially be the start of a golden age of technology in Indonesia.”