Successful Online Businesses and How Much They Started with

Some people saw the market potential, experimented, and then developed a unique online business by investing their own money into the business. Find out how much these entrepreneurs spent when they first started – coincidentally their companies' names begin with the same letter.

Starting capital: Rp 150 million 

online catering site berrykitchen.comWithout any experience in building a business, especially a catering business, Cynthia Tenggara decided to start Allocating Rp 5 million for a simple website, she used the rest of her starting capital to build a kitchen and finance operational costs.

Initially, Berry Kitchen had a very small team to run the operations. "There were three people at that time, including myself and one administrator," she tells LiveOlive. Cynthia was responsible for small things like packing, delivering lunch boxes to clients, or even fixing the occasional broken air conditioner and mopping the floor.

To manage the company's finance, she created a simplified financial report so that she can regularly analyze their expenditures versus the budget.

"We wanted to keep employment cost no more than 30% and food costs to no more than 40% of our (revenue)," she explains.

“Once you sacrifice your job and have no income at all, you will work as hard as you can. (Having no job) makes you work harder and smarter to make your business work,” she says.

Three years after starting the business, Berry Kitchen has had two investors and had moved to a bigger facility. They are currently planning to move to another location in order to manage a bigger kitchen.

As a co-founder, Cynthia keeps pushing herself to think out of the box when it comes to growing her catering business. "I want to have a remote kitchen so that we can serve all of Jakarta," she says with confidence.

Starting capital: Rp 100 million

After working for more than one and a half decades in the tourism industry and managing 600 employees in Jakarta and Bali,  Riana Bismarak felt that her career was going nowhere and she was known by many people as a Corporate Director of the company she worked for.

"I wanted people to know me just as Riana Bismarak," she says.

After a bold move of quitting her job, Riana created her business with this classic recipe of "starting with the things you like to do". Before she developed an online business, she participated in bazaars and opened a shop in trade centers – more commonly known as ITC in Indonesia. Unfortunately, these shops were not successful because there were a lot of challenges in maintaining a physical store.

[Read: Quiz: Are You Ready to Start Your Own Business?]

"When I had a store, I had to watch over it myself. Whenever I left it unattended, the shopkeeper – who was supposed to run the store – usually ended up flirting with someone and I couldn't get angry at her," she recalls.

Her perseverance prompted her to study the market and their needs, during her free time.

"The population of middle class (C) in Indonesia is huge. They have the money, but they (want) value for money," Riana explains.

According to her, the middle class in Indonesia usually do not buy local fashion products.

“The ones using local brands are mostly B class, with a minimum price point of Rp 400,000, just as expensive as Zara products, for example,” she says. Therefore, she wanted to fill this gap and work with local designers to launch an online fashion store called – literally means "below one hundred" in Indonesian.

This means leaving her “comfort zone” and starting everything from scratch. “I used to have a personal assistant or a secretary, but now I’m doing everything by myself,” she says.

At the moment, the company runs with four employees and Riana is doing her best to  manage her finances

“The biggest cost is in payroll and office space. The last thing I want is to withhold the employees’ salaries or make them pay (work-related things) with their money,” she says. 

Starting capital: Rp 100 million

The company has become a benchmark for those who are familiar with  gadgets and electronics in Indonesia. Starting as an offline electronics store in 1993, Bhinneka has expanded its unique selling proposition as an integrated e-commerce site specializing in electronics products in Indonesia. Hendrik Tio founded the company together with his best friends 22 years ago, long before other similar companies were thinking of having an online business.

“When a business is developing, it will naturally become harder to manage,” says Hendrik, who now serves as the CEO of the company.

At first, he says, the challenge was to find customers. “After that, you will have more customers and become busy in managing the system, then the challenge was about finding good resources and so on,” he explains.

According to him, the most important thing in building his business is to implement a good system, especially as the customer base grows. 

“We are currently using an integrated system, from the front end to fulfillment – the process of receiving, packaging and shipping orders for goods – and accounting,” he says. According to the current Alexa rankings, is within 100 most popular sites in Indonesia.

Read also: Cost of Setting up an Online Business

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