Life at Gojek
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Life at Gojek

Why GO-JEK is the Operating System of Indonesia

Jakarta is GO-JEK. GO-JEK is Jakarta. Some maxims are hard to fathom. No matter how much you parrot on about GO-JEK’s size, it doesn’t exemplify the 7 year-old startup’s cultural significance in Indonesia.

Karya Anak Bangsa. The work of the nation’s children. Made for the people, by the people. GO-JEK is woven into Indonesia’s fabric. It’s unlike any company. There is pride in what GO-JEK has done in Indonesia. It is the undoubtable crown jewel of the East. And when you talk to Indonesians about GO-JEK, you will notice a peculiar phenomenon: The brand is theirs, their home-grown star, a reflection of a new era in technology.

But how does a country of just 261 million people contribute to the business scale of GO-JEK? It’s a combination of technology and the willingness to trade convenience over cost.

Indonesians love their smartphones. They’re tech-savvy. Drivers know their way around the GO-JEK app, they know how to make payments, order food, navigate to a pickup point and use the app to do their own bidding. It’s a stunning ecosystem where people are ready to pay money to save time, or choose convenience. This is quite contrary in India — a market where cost, discounts, bargains and deals dictate the internet economy.

Cashbacks are important. Loyalties are hard to come by. The Amazon of India is… Amazon. Loyalties are driven only by costs.

I had the privilege of meeting with The Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia about two months back. He was brimming with pride when he spoke of GO-JEK’s technology, its unparalleled cultural significance in Indonesia.

Above all, GO-JEK is a verb. A wiling muse to the stunning islands of Bali and Gili Trawangan.

In less than three years, GO-JEK has created a Super App that tends to a variety of needs. And Indonesians are embracing this change by willing to trade cost for convenience. This bargain buys a commodity that’s more precious than money; time. Our CMO, Piotr Jakubowski, articulates this well here. “There’s an app for that”, is now… “Just GO-JEK it”.

Social Impact — A consequence or a vision?

Tech orgs are preachy about wanting to change lives and the world. It’s almost nauseating when you hear the inevitable, “make the world a better place” phrase. But I wouldn’t be far off the mark to say GO-JEK has truly brought about a difference.

Now, people have more access to the gig economy. A single mother can cook food in her kitchen and sell it a large audience. No need for infrastructure. And users get good quality home-cooked food. That’s an unheard of phenomenon. More than a million jobs have been created out of thin air. More than 30,000 people who have disabilities have jobs and have a chance at earning money. That’s significant growth for a country.

It’s no surprise how passionate citizens are for a homegrown company that has made a dent in the world. This thinking percolates from the leadership team and software decisions are made keeping in mind the livelihood of drivers. Be it driver tips or ratings, GO-JEK has been something of a revelation for me.

The average driver rating is 4.91; an unusually high number and speaks volumes about how drivers are trained and are willing to put the customer’s interests first. Customers regularly tip drivers as well and more than 1 in 4 customers tipped drivers during Ramadan.

These are unmistakable trends of a majority of the people embracing a company and making it their own. The last time a “company” received so much adulation, JFK pleaded with the American public to support a program to put a man on the moon.

The app is an ecosystem, a family

The husband will use GO-RIDE or GO-FOOD while the wife can gain employment with GO-GLAM or GO-MASSAGE. Now an entire family is wedded into the company, and they’re working with the premise that GO-JEK should never fail. This means better customer service. Better customer service means more tips. It’s a beautifully complete cycle that allows for more than 100 million transactions each month, even when there are only 100+ million who have downloaded the app. It’s also precisely why customers prefer to use a GO-JEK over any other app.

90% GO-JEK drivers feel an improvement in their quality of life after joining GO-JEK, according to a study by the University of Indonesia. 78% believe if GO-JEK terminates its operations, it will have a negative impact on society. These are impressive numbers that tell the story of a company that has grown with its people and is the pride of its nation.

In my week long work trip to Jakarta, I’ve never been more surprised by how kind drivers are, how friendly they are. A lot of them come from small villages, tiny islands away from Jakarta. They come with the hope of making it in a big city — a chance to send money home and technology has helped them realise this simple vision.

There was a time when ‘ojeks’, the traditional bike scooters would loiter on the side of the road and demand exuberant prices to customers. There was a time when a union would be formed and a lot of them would be smoking cigarettes and praying for better days. But not anymore. Now, there are opportunities, there is a chance to earn a good income.

After all, drivers have put their children to college by earning income from GO-JEK, to visiting the recently concluded football World Cup in Russia. Now, that’s some story worth recounting.

The more you understand and learn about GO-JEK, the more astounded you are of its achievements. And it’s indeed heartening to be part of a company that stands for something, that truly believes in its mission and work. Karya Anak Bangsa, we all say.🖖🙏.

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Adithya Venkatesan

Brand Marketer. Twitter: @adadithya. Travel fanatic. Wildlife lover. Voracious reader. Cenosillicaphobic. Logophile. Past: @gojektech @reuters @ACJIndia