Indonesia launches national pitch competition HighPitch 2020 to re-energize its startup ecosystem

© HighPitch

With 43 VC investors so far joining as judges and mentors, HighPitch 2020 aims to reconnect investors with young startups across the country amid Covid-19 

Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy (Kemenparekraf/Baparekraf) and investors UMG Idealab and ALTIRA have jointly launched a nationwide online pitch competition for Indonesian startups. Named HighPitch 2020 National Startup Competition, the open call is accepting applications until Tuesday, November 3. More than 40 venture capital (VC) firms have confirmed their participation as mentors and judges for the event. 

UMG Idealab is the Myanmar-based corporate VC arm of diversified conglomerate UMG, founded and led by Indonesian investor and serial entrepreneur Kiwi Aliwarga. ALTIRA, which stands for Alternative Investment Group & Advisory, is an investment platform supported by the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other global investors.

In an email interview, the organizers said they saw HighPitch as “an opportunity to help the startup ecosystem, by bridging the needs of VCs and startups and fostering collaboration between them."  

VC firms, they said, have shared in their conversations with the organizers, that “startup investments have been slowing down since the [Covid-19] pandemic", which first reached Indonesia in March. Similarly, startups have indicated that "raising funds has been quite challenging," the organizers said.

The grand national final of the HighPitch 2020 competition will take place on November 20, where 10 finalist startups will compete for the top spot. The finalists would be the winning startups from the competition’s regional pitches, organized in five main geographical areas of Indonesia during the week of November 9.

Creative solutions can boost the economy 

Separately, Hanifah Makarim, Director of Access to Finance of Kemenparekraf, said the HighPitch competition is evidence that despite the ongoing pandemic, startup founders and entrepreneurs can still develop creative solutions and boost the economy.    

“The economy still has to move and one of the means to do so is by holding an online competition such as HighPitch 2020, which aims to connect start-ups with sources of capital or financing from venture capitals and investors,” Makarim said in a press release.

So far, 43 VC companies have confirmed their participation in the event. Prominent local VCs like East Ventures, Alpha JWC Ventures, Monk’s Hill Ventures and Venturra Discovery will join as judges and mentors, alongside organizers UMG Idealab and ALTIRA. The Indonesian Venture Capital Association for Startups (Amvesindo), a major professional association for local VCs, is also a partner for the event.

ALTIRA founder and CEO Adriani Onie said the pandemic has taught entrepreneurs to think more deeply about business sustainability and resilience, and to balance those objectives with growth. “I have seen it time and time again from my experience in the US, Australia and Asia, how difficult situations and economic downturn would give birth to the best of innovation and companies that will later emerge as leaders in their field,” she said in the release. 

Five regional pitches

Applications are open for startups from 25 sectors, including fintech, agritech, tourism, the arts and healthcare. Applicant startups must already have a business entity and “demonstrable market traction.” Besides metrics such as the number of users and app downloads, the startups must show that they have achieved minimum gross sales or revenue of above IDR 100m. More information can be found at HighPitch 2020’s official website

The pitch competition will be divided into five regional chapters: Sumatera; Jakarta and West Java; Central Java, East Java, and Yogyakarta; Bali and Nusa Tenggara islands; and Sulawesi, Kalimantan, and Papua. 

Having the regional competitions “will allow every startup in Indonesia, even in remote areas, to engage and be discovered by potential investors,” the organizers said. Calling out to the country’s “best startups,” they added: ”We are ready and waiting to meet you soon, wherever you are in Indonesia."

Ten startups will be selected to compete in each of the five regional pitch sessions held between November 9 and 13. The startups will pitch for seven minutes before a judging panel of VC investors. Two finalists from each region will go on to compete in the national final slated on November 20. 

To prepare the finalists for the last round, HighPitch will involve them in an immersive bootcamp program around mid-November. Following the final pitch competition, those startups will also get to attend a weeklong investment readiness workshop, run by senior VC partners and domain experts. 

In addition, the finalists will receive free credits for Amazon Web Services and get to join an upcoming incubation program run by other event partners GK-Plug and Play Indonesia, the collaborative incubator program between global incubator program Plug and Play and Gan Kapital, and Shinhan Future’s Lab, an accelerator program run by South Korea’s Shinhan Financial Group.

“We hope that by having HighPitch 2020, we can help sustain a robust entrepreneurship ecosystem despite the pandemic, with positive impact and mutual benefits received by all the participating stakeholders, not just the winners,” the organizers said.

“Startups can learn valuable experience and lessons from the whole process and build a worthwhile network as well as strategic relationships with the ecosystem’s participants, including investors… It is an open opportunity for startups to get invested by one or more of them!"

CompassList is the official media partner of the HighPitch 2020 National Startup Competition.

Edited by Bernice Tang

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