Arya Setiadharma of Prasetia Dwidharma Talks about the Startup World and His Journey as a Rising Investor
As an introvert who loves the art of cooking, Arya Setiadharma would never have thought of becoming the CEO of his own investment company. Let alone his extensive success in funding more than 100 early-stage startups for five consecutive years through Prasetia Dwidharma. With a busy schedule, the amiable leader spends most of his days behind the desk joining many meetings and sealing profitable deals with his twin brother, Ardi Setiadharma. Despite his high position, Arya commands an air of confidence that puts people at ease with his congeniality and wise approach towards things. His positive outlook on life also helps him to overcome many challenges amid the ongoing pandemic.
One of his secrets to keeping the business running during this challenging time is composure. “You have to be mindful about keeping yourself composed because the last thing that you want to create is fear or panic within the company,” he said. “As a leader, we need to stay positive since that positivity is contagious. The pandemic has forced industry players to think more about what could happen if things do not go as planned; it also accelerated digital adoption across many industries.”
Although relatively new to the world of startups, Prasetia Dwidharma has over a hundred excellent portfolios comprising A- and B-funding for various companies in Indonesia, Southeast Asia, India and the US. In 2016, the company debuted its first investment in a local smart-city startup called Qlue. Since then, Qlue has grown beyond the Series B-stage funding together with other Prasetia Dwidharma portfolios, such as Mekari and Yummy Corp. Other famous startups under its wings, Pomona, Bukukas, Printerous, Cakap, Nodeflux, Gotrade, Nimbly and Brick, have just successfully raised Series-A funding rounds.
Today, Arya focuses more on seed and pre-series A funding to get more opportunity to work with the founders. “I can learn something valuable from these founders. My experience, both good and bad, is also beneficial for the growth of their startups,” he said. “Just like in the corporate setting, where knowledge management is one of the keys for continuing success, I do believe that expertise in a certain stage can lead to better achievement.” With many prospective startups getting the funding they needed through the help of Prasetia Dwidharma, one wonders should Arya wished to build his startup or diverge from investing.
Though seemingly promising, Setiadharma chooses to focus on growing his investment business and master one subject before moving on to the next. “The idea of building a new startup once crossed my mind. However, with my commitment and responsibilities to grow my company, added with the fact that I am pursuing my MBA at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, I could not create my own startup,” said Arya. “That is why we started investing in startups. If we could not build our own, we could participate in the growth of the digital ecosystem by investing in others.” However, if he ever had the chance to build a startup despite his current work condition, Arya would like to create his own healthcare company. “I do see a disparity in terms of healthcare services that Indonesia gets in different regions, especially made stark during the pandemic,” he said in closing. “In this way, I would be making a greater contribution to the country.”