CHRISTINA SURIADJAJA, BUILDING TRAVELIO WITH PROFESSIONALISM
She chooses to get out of her comfort zone.
Christina Suriadjaja's future is safe because she is the grandson of Benjamin Suriadjaja, the founder of PT Surya Semesta Internusa Tbk. (SSI). If she wants, she can have a wonderful opportunity to hold a strategic position in the large corporation. However, the now 27-year-old woman chose to pursue her passion by founding a new company outside of SSI.
She believes that forming a community and persuading people to believe in his vision will be more difficult. So, in 2015, Christina founded Travelio, a firm specializing in online home renting. Her father, Johannes Suriadjaja, President Director of SSI, who realized the potential in the digital economy, supported her decision.
"My parents are also quite open with my life choices because they don't require me to continue the family business. The most essential thing is how we must respect integrity ideals," Christina says.
Travelio began with a business proposal to a family fund organization controlled by the Suriadjaja family by Hendry Rusli, co-founder and current CEO of Travelio. This family fund was established by the late Benjamin Suriadjaja to support non-profit and corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. This family fund, on the other hand, is intended to be utilized to make direct investments in local startup enterprises.
Christina earned her bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business. In addition, she has a master's degree in real estate from Cornell University. This lady began her career as a management trainee with the InterContinental Hotels Group in Singapore. However, after around four months, she decided to focus on Travelio.
Christina is the chief strategy officer in Travelio's corporate structure. She is in charge of developing business strategy, as well as property management and investor interactions. Travelio's first business idea was to provide online hotel negotiation services. After analyzing the business potential, he and Hendry, along with Christie Amanda as the chief operating officer, took a pivotal step in January 2017 by shifting the business model to private property leasing.
This shift in business model has piqued the interest of venture capitalists and other investors, who are eager to lend money. Travelio received around $2 million in pre-series A fundraising in mid-2016 from Chinese venture capitalist Gobi Partners, as well as Anthull Ventures and Kuok Group. Then, in mid-2018, in a Series A funding round headed by Vynn Capital and sponsored by Insignia Ventures Partners, Fenox Venture Capital, IndoGen Capital, and Stellar Kapital, US$4 million was distributed.
According to Christina, Travelio has just closed its Series B funding, albeit the investors and the amount have not been disclosed.
"With more and more monies coming into Travelio, SSI's ownership is no longer the majority and is no longer part of the subsidiary," the eldest of three children explained.
Travelio presently has 5,000 property listing units from third parties and 1,800 apartment units handled directly by Travelio Property Management, thanks to stable funding. Aside from the listing concept, the Travelio Property Management service manages apartments for individuals and developers.
Christina added that her party's business aims to optimize the potential of apartment rentals by assisting investors or apartment owners in managing their properties. Later, property owners can access detailed reports via the Lio Partner app. People can book completely furnished apartments through Travelio on a daily, monthly, or yearly basis.
"Property owners only need to give us a key; we manage everything," Christina, the 2017 EY NextGen Award Winner, explained.
Travelio now has 98 thousand subscribers and is supported by 150 workers. The market is divided into two segments: short stay and extended stay. Consumers for short stays have the following characteristics: age range 28-45 years; 70% Indonesian citizens and 30% foreigners. During the long stay, 95 percent of Indonesian citizens and 5% of foreigners were between the ages of 23 and 35.
Travelio also works with Airbnb and Booking.com as a distribution platform that supplies demand, while Travelio delivers property supply. Travelio plans to handle 10,000 apartment units by the end of this year, with the goal of becoming the largest apartment rental company in Indonesia.
"Our competitiveness comes from having a network of property owners and developers," Christina explained. "We want to have the highest market share in terms of supply while retaining quality.”
Christina confessed that as a next-generation entrepreneur, she learned a lot from her grandfather, Benjamin Suriadjaja, and her grandfather's older brother, William Suryadjaja (founder of Astra Group).
"They have a great influence on the values that must be held in life, such as (having) honesty, responsibility, and trustworthiness," she stated. Another idea is that the family should not be burdened, even if they enjoy the benefit of the business and current assets.
"We must be able to produce value that is not only for the family but also for the Indonesian people," she remarked in response to his grandfather's advice. "My grandfather taught me that the target must be black and white and structured, but it must also include subjective viewpoints. Because, no matter what happens, the character is always more essential than skill.”
Christina, who was born into a business family, is involved in regular business interactions with her family. The family gathers for dinner twice a week to discuss business. The extended family also meets once every two or three months to talk business.
"In most cases, parents' involvement in the firm is limited to advisory in terms of corporate governance, legality, and company structure," said cousins Michael Soeryadjaya (Director of Saratoga) and Arif. P Rachmat (Chairman of Triputra Agro Persada).
According to Christina, a next-gen should not be frightened to govern the resources provided by the family.
"Sometimes, a next-gen who starts his own business does not want to be identified with a family business. However, if it's an advantage, why not?" she concluded.
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