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Business is Booming in Bali

Bali is a well-known paradise for tourists who spend the day on the sprawling whitesand beaches and dance the nights away in hip clubs and bar. However tourists are not the only ones flocking to this turquoise-water paradise, industrious entrepreneurs are too. For the last decade, this island province of Indonesia has emerged as a popular technology startup hub.

“Bali is in fact a Southeast Asian startup hub. The island has a fast growing startup scene. Many entrepreneurs, initiatives, events, startups, and some tech talent are based on the island. If one is searching for a nice and scenic place to work, interact and collaborate, then Bali tops the chart,” says Peter Wall, an entrepreneur based in Bali.

The biggest advantage of basing a start-up in Bali is the diverse, collaborative network that is promoted among entrepreneurs. This tight community allows entrepreneurs access to information and resources vital to their tech product.

“Bali [has become] the hub or meeting point for tech startups that work in a distributive team. These teams can come together a few times a year to really focus and buckle down on building and developing their businesses. Some truly innovative startups are coming from Bali only,” explains Andrea Loubier, the CEO and co-founder of Mailbird, a Bali based email tech startup. She continues, “We’ve got the whole gamut of tech startups, from those who want to revolutionize the learning of biotechnology to a productivity platform within an email client for the billions of Windows OS users worldwide”. Aside from the businesscollaboration, many entrepreneurs are attracted to Bali for the island lifestyle and relatively low-cost of living especially when compared to other parts of Indonesia such as Jakarta and Bandung. “All the action happens in Jakarta but it is very expensive to run a bootstrapped venture there,” explains Aryo P. Ariotedjo, managing partner of Grupara, a startup incubator in Jakarta. He continues, “Bandung is the home of the top programmers in Indonesia and Yogyakarta is the city of students, the city of right energetic talent. If you want a place to just concentrate and build your product, it is definitely Bali.”

Although, Indonesia in general is looking like a potentially healthy place for start-ups. As the world’s fourth most populous country, Indonesia’s economy is steadily growing at about 5 percent annually. Boston Consulting Group (BCG) states that Indonesia is Asia’s next big opportunity and that by 2030 the Indonesian economy may even surpass Germany and the United Kingdom to become the seventh largest in the world. While Indonesia was only ranked at173 for best places to start a business in 2016 according to the World Bank Report, the country has been making significant improvements for their business community. The time required to start a business has dropped from an average of 168 days to 31. The cost to start has dropped from 136 percent of income per capita to 18 percent, and paid-in minimum capital requirements have dropped from 69 percent to 47 percent. The number of procedures to complete before starting has dropped from 12 to 8.

However, Made Wijaya, manager of an interior design and landscaping business in Bali says foreigners need to know that starting a business here is not all fun-in-the-sun. “Foreigners who come here have unrealistic expectations and think they don’t have to follow the rules or paytax. In Bali also, you need to follow regulations as you would in any other place,” says Wijaya.