Edy Tan, Co-founder and CEO of Atma, formerly worked as Vice President of Driver Income at Gojek, drew inspiration from the social impact that Gojek delivered to 2.5 million drivers in the informal sector based on his experience working closely with driver communities.
He aims to do the same with the wider population by extending into the formal sector, targeting the lower and middle-income segment of the working-age population in Indonesia – individuals earning less than IDR 10 million per month (or approximately US$ 700).
Atma, which has raised US$ 5 million in funding so far, was launched in 2022 by Indonesians who truly understand the problem, feel the problem, and passionately want to solve the problem. The company aims to build the largest and most engaged community of lower and middle-income job seekers with a shared mission to get better with Atma; better jobs, better incomes; a better life.
Founders are experienced leaders in reputable startups, having been together since Bukugaji (and Gojek / Oyo for some); the team is tight-knit and generally well balanced across their positions. While all the founding team members are strong communicators with plenty of startup / entrepreneurial experience, Edy stands out as an investible founder – having led regional teams in Gojek and Oyo, which built and scaled operations in Sumatera. The founders are well connected in the space – and are seasoned professionals & entrepreneurs that understand the hardships of running a company.
In his conversation with AC Ventures, Edy explains his experiences during his career until he founded Atma together with Chris Gunawan, Susan Suhargo, Timothy Young, and Monica Oudang.
Here are some excerpts from our conversation with Edy Tan:
What is Atma’s origin story? What made you interested in jobs for lower-to-middle-income Indonesians?
While at Gojek, I had the privilege to work very closely with drivers and their communities, where my main focus was to improve their livelihood in a sustainable way.
During the pandemic, economic activities came to a halt and, at its peak, driver income dropped by 80% on average. Drivers would be online for 12 hours a day and would only be on the job for 2 hours.
Life was tough, but embracing Gojek’s creed “Pasti Ada Jalan” (there is always a way), I embarked on a mission to find other sources of revenue for drivers on top of driving. I discovered that drivers generally wanted income stability more than higher income in that journey. That intrigued me to look into the economic opportunity landscape for the lower and middle-income segment beyond the 2+ million driver population.
It soon became apparent to me that the job market for the lower and middle-income segment is fundamentally broken and ripe for innovation when most job seekers described their job search experience as emotionally traumatizing and companies often described their candidate search experience as a random walk. Not only is there always a way, but there must also be a better way. That’s how Atma was born.
What’s the most important lesson learned from your time at Gojek that you’re currently implementing at Atma?
When you speak in a language that a man understands, it goes to his head; when you speak in his language, it goes to his heart. Connecting with our users at a genuine and emotional level will differentiate us in delivering values. When we win hearts, we win the market. Touching hearts is the 2nd fundamental principle in Atma. We live by it in everything that we do.
How does Atma work for job hunters? How does it work for companies?
For Atma job seekers, we’re building a mobile application that will redefine the job search experience. A job seeker starts by creating an Atma identity.
When applying for jobs, the job seeker will go through an Atma screening process that factors qualifications, skills, and cultural fit. Atma provides job seekers with real-time job application updates, eliminating ghosting.
We can accurately recommend relevant, high-quality jobs tailored to the job seeker by leveraging data.
The Atma job search experience is firmly supported by our communities, where job seekers can improve themselves with career development programs and peer-to-peer learning and cultivate meaningful relationships and build a sense of security with the other members of the community.
For Atma partners, we’re tackling process inefficiency problems across the entire hiring process workflow.
Firstly, companies post their open jobs on our Atma Bisnis web application. As job applications come in, we use data to screen, assess and sort candidates so recruiters can focus their time and effort on interviewing only highly qualified candidates.
Along the way, we provide a software solution that transforms the hiring workflow by being smarter and simpler. We’re dedicated to helping our Atma partners hire the best candidates as quickly as possible.
What kind of jobs can Atma job seekers expect to find on it?
Entry to intermediate level jobs paying less than IDR 10 million (~USD 700) per month.
What is your total addressable market in Indonesia?
USD 300+ Billion is the annualized salaries and wages paid to the labor force in Indonesia in 2021.
206+ million people are of working age population where 131+ million are employed, 9+ million are unemployed, and 66+ million are economically inactive. We help the employed get better jobs, the unemployed get a job, and the economically inactive get access to employment opportunities.
You established Atma this year, and now the public and private tech industry face winter and corrections. What is your view on current challenges, especially as the founder of a new startup that needs lots of support, such as funding and talents?
In light of the economic downturn and upcoming market uncertainties, we believe that a company with a solid vision and a strong team well managed financially and operationally will leapfrog its competition when the dust settles.
In Atma, we are fortunate to be in the position to leverage this macro opportunity to get ahead. We are gearing up the company in terms of product, engineering, process, and people to take a long-term view and build a sustainable high-growth business.
We have the financial resources, the plan, and the team to thrive, not just to survive, in this market environment. This underscores the importance of the first 3 of the five criteria I decided to start Atma: product-first, enduring business, and intellectually stimulating evergreen problem statement.
Our timing to found Atma and the fundraising has been favorable since the market correction is a call to return to the fundamentals of creating real value.
Do you have plans to expand beyond Indonesia?
Geographical expansion is a factor of product, positioning, and people. We are a product-first company, which means we build solutions ready to scale when opportunities present themselves. We currently focus on Indonesia, but we believe our efforts to redefine the job and candidate search experiences apply to many regions with similar labor market characteristics and challenges as Indonesia.
When the timing is right, and we have all the 3 Ps, we would be excited to extend our mission of “getting better with Atma: a better job, better income, better life” beyond the borders of Indonesia. For now, our minds and hearts are in Indonesia.
Scale with us!
AC Ventures is a leading venture capital firm investing in early-stage startups focused on Southeast Asia. We are a generational partner to founders driving positive societal change and economic impact in Indonesia and beyond.