In conversation with
Mr. Guillem Segarra
CEO | HappyFresh
FDI Spotlight: What would you identify as the core identity of Happy Fresh?
Guillem Segarra: What we’re trying to do here is changing consumer habits for the sake of convenience. When you go to buy groceries particularly in a mega city like Jakarta, you can easily spend an hour in traffic to get to the supermarket, to walk around a grocery store that may not be as pleasant or nice as those in a more developed country, to pack up all your shopping and carry it to the parking area or wait for a taxi and then to sit in traffic again for another hour to get home, all the while you could be doing things that really matter like spending time with your family and friends or exercising. We’re on an educational mandate here to say you can spend that time which is essentially wasted to do the things that are important for you like hanging out with your friends or walking your dog. To define our mission here simply is to say that we’re educating people that you can be spending your time on things that actually add to your life rather than be stuck in traffic or queuing, whilst doing your shopping in a convenient, interactive and fun way at the same cost of doing a conventional shopping trip when considering all costs.
Do you agree with Pak Airlangga Hartarto’s vision that Indonesia 4.0 and the digital economy will transform the Indonesian economy as we know it?
Guillem Segarra: Absolutely, if we look at the country even 5 years ago, there was not the appetite to embrace the digital economy. The willingness was there but the policy framework and infrastructure wasn’t. Many were excited about its potential but just couldn’t act out their desires for growth in this area. Today, however, we can see that the invested stakeholders and most importantly the government are making steps to embrace the digital economy, and as such the investment climate for this sector is much greater. There is still a long way to go in terms of continuing the infrastructural push and policies that encourage digital entrepreneurship, but the future is definitely bright.
Do you see these industry disruptors such as yourself causing a paradigm shift for traditional industries?
Guillem Segarra: I could say that here in Indonesia is quite a loving country. If you look at some core industries such as taxis and banking, the taxi industry has been heavily regulated and protected, which has resulted in the existing players in the taxi market enjoying quite the comfortable life and the banks have been heavily regulated and looked after by the government as well. This protectionism has had a negative impact, as these firms have not needed to worry about evolving or adapting and in the end, it is the customer that suffers. The beauty of the tech industry is that as technology has changed and grown so much in the last 5 – 10 years, the policies and regulations haven’t been able to keep up with this and so tech players like us have been able to get in and disrupt the market. We can look at the very interesting case of the ride-sharing and taxi apps entering into this market. In the beginning the traditional taxi companies fought back with ferocity by any means necessary and actually, the 3 largest taxi app companies joined forces for one sole purpose, to fight back against the court cases against them, to open the market up for everyone and to go back to business as usual and competing with each other. This has marked a shift for many industries and now traditional industry players would rather partner with the new kids on the block rather than fight them because, in the end, you cannot fight the needs of 250 million people.
What efforts can be made to attract more technology investment into Indonesia?
Guillem Segarra: I believe this comes down to 2 different factors. First of all, in order to for the country to embrace the digital revolution and to allow new technologies to improve Indonesian quality of life, they must have access to the internet. As of today, over 60 % of the Indonesian population do not have basic access to the internet. This infrastructural challenge is the first obstacle to overcome. Secondly is the relevance of a logical policy framework that is conducive to FDI inflow into the country. In my opinion, Indonesia is at a tipping point right now. It has the potential to become the economic engine of South East Asia; there are the resources, the population and now we need the leadership in the country from both the public and private sector to work on a common sense framework to help the country push forward.
From the birth of Happy Fresh you have been a regional company, what do you consider to be the ASEAN identity?
Guillem Segarra: Other than geographic proximity, I would say it is very difficult to identify a homogenous ASEAN identity, and here at Happy Fresh we never do that. If you look at the size of the economy’s of the 10 member countries, Singapore’s average GDP per capita per month is over $3000 USD and Indonesia’s is $300 USD. From a business perspective the value offering in each of these markets should be catered specifically, a one size fits all model simply does not work here.
What is your approach to human capital development and the nuances of empowerment of the Indonesian people?
Guillem Segarra: As I said earlier trying to find time in Indonesia isn’t an easy task. However, when you invest your time here into developing people, the return on that is massively higher than any country that I have worked in before. To put that into a macro context, Indonesian society and Indonesian people have a lot of potentials, they just need to believe in themselves and prioritise their educational development. We can even see the 18 – 25 year-olds who are joining the work market now have had a greater quality of education growing up, more exposure to globalisation and access to the internet and as a result, they are more competitive than previous generations. I sincerely hope this continues to encourage a switched-on population that questions, challenges and engages as this will lead to long-term economic and societal development.