Last episode, we went on call with open finance pioneer and leader in Southeast Asia Todd Schweitzer CEO and co-founder of Brankas and director of Open Banking Exchange Asia.  Today we go on call with pediatrician, startup operator, and parenting micro-influencer, Dr. Mesty Ariotedjo and Tokopedia alumnus and seasoned product leader Garri Juanda, the co-founders […]

Pediatrician Dr Mesty Ariotedjo and Tokopedia alum Garri Juanda on how starting a family amidst the pandemic led to them building an all-in-one platform for Indonesian parenting (S04E02)

Last episode, we went on call with open finance pioneer and leader in Southeast Asia Todd Schweitzer CEO and co-founder of Brankas and director of Open Banking Exchange Asia. 

Today we go on call with pediatrician, startup operator, and parenting micro-influencer, Dr. Mesty Ariotedjo and Tokopedia alumnus and seasoned product leader Garri Juanda, the co-founders of Tentang Anak, a tech company building the all-in-one parenting platform for 80 million children in Indonesia and their parents. They just launched their app following their seed round with us. 

They go on call with us to talk about how they started Tentang Anak, everything parenting in Indonesia, and the role of technology and Tentang Anak in scaling democratized, best-in-class services for parents and their children. 

Highlights and Timestamps

  1. Paulo introduces Mesty and Garri;
  2. Mesty and Garri on meeting Insignia;
  3. Origins of Tentang Anak: A pregnancy, pandemic, and pediatrician; …it was very rare [for us to find] information on how to do good parenting, especially for Indonesia, and especially in the local language. But then it’s also not as surprising to us because according to Mesty, there are only less than 4000 pediatricians.”
  4. Examples of the localization needed with parenting and going from Instagram Live to a fully dedicated app; “Tentang Anak was a very spontaneous initiative. It was just me on Instagram Live, Paulo, with the professors. It was on my personal account, but then the enthusiasm of the followers was very high and then we decided to make a separate platform from my Instagram account…So I think that [Tentang Anak] can be a very important part of it where we can be the trusted source and be the friend of the parents to enjoy this journey.”
  5. How Mesty’s background as a doctor influenced her decision to build Tentang Anak; “​​So I wished we could create something that will reduce parents’ cognitive load and would make their parenting journey more enjoyable.”
  6. How pediatricians and child care experts align with Tentang Anak’s mission; “So the way we look at it is that the way [these experts] can also benefit [from the platform] is to spread all this public health information that is truthful and scientific. Because at the end of the day all the experts and all the doctors are here to save lives. To save lives and to see that children are actually growing healthy.”
  7. Mesty breaks down the app; “Tentang Anak’s application currently provides holistic services. So we’re not only focusing on health, but we believe it takes a village to raise a child.”
  8. Tentang Anak flipping the script on scaling commerce platforms; “So we have to be very balanced on education and recommendation, but how do you actually gain access to products and services? We would love to marry both.”
  9. Fine-tuning the capabilities of Tentang Anak’s platform; “How can we build an ecosystem that does not just properly recommend but is also very personalized to the kids’ stage of growth? How can we marry that [recommendation] with products and services we will offer the parents?”
  10. What has attracted early talent to join Tentang Anak; “So we want to make sure the culture in Tentang Anak is about — even though we really want to work effectively and efficiently, we want to make sure that our own family and our own children are also in good hands.”
  11. The magic behind Mesty and Garri’s dynamic; “…what I really have as my passion is to bring health equity, and also impact many people in Indonesia. But, I realized…that in order for us to make a huge impact, we need to create something that is sustainable and scalable, right?”
  12. How community drives Tentang Anak’s product roadmap; “So Tentang Anak actually, Paulo, is a very community driven roadmap company. All of the things that you’ve seen or app is actually [based on] all the things that Mesty’s clients and Mesty’s other [colleagues] clients ask them.”
  13. Tentang Anak’s focus in the next five years; “Our goal is actually to help the 80 million children in Indonesia…It could be online, could be offline, it could be omnichannel. But that’s where we are going to be focusing on, [and] we will always be evolving our business model.”
  14. Rapid Fire Round; 

About our guests

Tentang Anak, which translates to “About Children”, was founded in 2020 by pediatrician Dr. Mesty Ariotedjo and Tokopedia alum Garri Juanda. Mesty is currently a graduate student at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the recipient of Harvard T.H. Chan Fellowship Award. She was also included in Forbes Asia’s 30 Under 30 and a member of the World Economic Forum. While Mesty brings her medical expertise and network to Tentang Anak and Garri brings his 11 years of tech experience in product, growth, and M&A to the table. He previously oversaw Tokopedia’s marketplace, adstech, and logistics business verticals; and was one of Rakuten Japan’s first non-Japanese product managers. Garri earned his MBA from Harvard Business School.

Transcripts

Paulo: So we’re talking about none other than Tentang Anak, which translates to “About Children”, and we have their founders here Mesty Ariotedjo and Garri Juanda. Hi, Mesty. Hi, Garri. Welcome to the show!

Garri: Hey, Paulo, it’s great to be here. 

Mesty: Paulo. Thank you for having us. We were very honored to be a part of Insignia.

Paulo: It’s great to have you on. A little bit on you guys before we head right in. You guys are not just co-founders but also husband and wife and you co-founded Tentang Anak in 2020. Mesty is a pediatrician. She’s currently a graduate student at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She’s also the recipient of the Harvard T.H. Chan Fellowship award, and she was also part of Forbes 30 under 30 Asia and is a WEF fellow. 

On the other hand, Garri has over a decade of experience in tech with product growth and M&A, before Tentang Anak, he previously oversaw Tokopedia’s marketplace, adtech, logistics business verticals as part of the CEO office. And he was also one of Rakuten Japan’s first non-Japanese product managers. 

To kick things off, I’m sure our audience would be very curious to know how you met Insignia if you can share a little bit about that.

Garri: In the beginning, when I joined Tokopedia, Yinglan was also actually one of the board members in Tokopedia, so [there were] some occasions where we crossed each other back then, I think, in 2016-ish, 2017. So actually that was the first time I met Yinglan. But then fast forward [today], pretty much, I know Andri actually from my other friends, we also got connected through Insignia by our other friends. And we’ve heard a lot of good things about Insignia, especially from our fellow startup founders as well. So it was great. So actually the reason why, when we look at Insignia and when we meet Yinglan, it’s like a love at first [sight]. Wasn’t it Mesty?

Mesty: Yes, I think he really understands what we’re trying to build and I think we have a very [similar] mission, vision and perspective.

Garri: And also, I think his style or his cadence is very enthusiastic. It’s very upbeat when he’s conveying an idea. So pretty much the same, like when Mesty and I are having a discussion at home, so it wasn’t like an alien experience at all. It felt like a family when we met, not only Yinglan, but also Andri, and Yongcheng, so it was great. We just conveyed everything like Mesty said, because it seems like we’re already on the same frequency, so that’s great. And I think that’s really important for us since we’re still in the early stages [of growth].

“It felt like a family when we met, not only Yinglan, but also Andri, and Yongcheng, so it was great. We just conveyed everything like Mesty said, because it seems like we’re already on the same frequency, so that’s great. And I think that’s really important for us since we’re still in the early stages [of growth].”

Tentang Anak’s Origins

Paulo: I’m just glad that you really were able to vibe well with Yinglan and the whole investment team. That’s really a factor that is often understated when it comes to these things, really finding that investor fit. But dialing back to when you guys — for Garri back at Tokopedia and for Mesty taking up your graduate studies — what made you guys decide at that point in your lives to start to actually go all in into building a company, and what were the external factors that influenced that decision? Garri, you can start.

Garri: So maybe even before that, I’ll backtrack a little bit. Because Mesty is a pediatrician, she’s already been in this industry of taking care of early-age children for the past 10 years. But then even for myself, actually my family owned one of the first Montessori schools in Indonesia all the way since the nineties. Early childhood [care] also has been close to our family. 

What a pediatrican and an early-childhood care heir learned about parenting in the pandemic

This parenting and [Montessori] early education wasn’t really a new style for us. However, I think it’s definitely intensified in the last two years, especially during the pandemic, when everyone was sent home. And of course for the two of us, Messi was pregnant, so she cannot practice anymore. She was forced to stay home while I was also, just like everyone else, working from home. At that time, we had to spend more time with the kids. I mean, previously Mesty was busy at the hospital, and I was busy at the office and now we’re like [spending] 20% more [time] with the kids and [we realized] that we have to learn more how to become good parents, because we would like to entertain them, engage them, educate them. 

And so we have to have a lot of inspiration for that. We started looking for answers. We would run through Instagram, we went online and googled. But apparently it was very rare [for us to find] information on how to do good parenting, especially for Indonesia, and especially in the local language. 

But then it’s also not as surprising to us because according to Mesty, there are only less than 4000 pediatricians. Those are the ones who are registered, but those who actually practice, they are even less [than that]. So there are 80 million children in Indonesia, aged below 18 years old, but there are only 4,000 registered pediatricians. So the number of doctors who can actually educate the parents on how to handle a child’s health and everything [has been] very lacking. All of them are mostly in the hospitals saving lives. 

So what happens is the information [out] there might not be really scientific. So it came as a shock for Mesty and I. Because of our background, Mesty was in this bubble and the cool circle, [where] everything was very scientific in the hospital and me [as well], coming from the early childhood [care kind of] family.

So the information out there that has been put for the rest of the parents was very different from the one that we have the privilege to have access to. And I think it was Mesty’s idea [to answer the question], “How can we actually connect the best-in-class experts [like] Mesty’s teacher from the hospital to the rest of the Indonesia’s parents?”

Fortunately, I think [that] was the first [seed] of ideas about Tentang Anak back in 2020 December. That’s pretty much the brief [summary], but of course Mesty would like to share some more details [about] that.

…it was very rare [for us to find] information on how to do good parenting, especially for Indonesia, and especially in the local language. But then it’s also not as surprising to us because according to Mesty, there are only less than 4000 pediatricians.”

Paulo: Yeah, for Mesty in particular, I was wondering because Garri mentioned a lot of these like different information where you have this disconnect between what you know and what is being disseminated across the country and to different parents. Maybe you could also add an example of what kind of information is hard to access for parents in Indonesia.

Mesty: So like what Garri said, because the number of pediatricians is very few and we were so busy at the hospital, and when I had my first son, I was very confident, but in reality, it was also very hard for me. Like I thought I knew [everything] about parenting, but actually it’s a very different role from working at the hospital saving lives to breastfeeding your children. You need some certain techniques that may be not very well-educated in Indonesia. Therefore the number of breastfed children is very low in Indonesia, and [there are] many other parenting [things] that we don’t really know because there’s no one [who] really handles it very well in Indonesia.

All roads lead to Instagram Live

So actually Tentang Anak was a very spontaneous initiative. It was just me on Instagram Live, Paulo, with the professors. It was on my personal account, but then the enthusiasm of the followers was very high and then we decided to make a separate platform from my Instagram account. And then after that, I think we just [looked] into the parenting role more [deeply]. And we found out that there’s many other problems. 

For example, I want to read good books for my children in Indonesia. I found so many good books in English, but the conditions are not very relevant with the situation in Indonesia. For example, maybe in the US you will have a sandwich for breakfast, but not in Indonesia, where we have nasi goreng. So from that, we tried to make our own book. We tried to make Tentang Anak bigger and then it became a whole ecosystem, where we just launched our application in the last two months.

Paulo: It must’ve been a momentous two years, having a kid and then launching this business, and so, is it correct to say that it was because of seeing all this engagement from social media that you decided to actually take it to the next level?

Tentang Anak as a trusted partner in the early parenting journey

Mesty: Yes, and also because I became less busy at the hospital and I can see [and think] more creatively about the problems that parents have. I mean, like parents need to be confident to have [someone] to accompany them during their parenting during the [early years] so it’s easier to nurture their children. 

So I think that [Tentang Anak] can be a very important part of it where we can be the trusted source and be the friend of the parents to enjoy this journey. So the parents become more confident and happy because if the parents are happy, the children will become happy, healthy, and also their growth and their development will be optimal.

“Tentang Anak was a very spontaneous initiative. It was just me on Instagram Live, Paulo, with the professors. It was on my personal account, but then the enthusiasm of the followers was very high and then we decided to make a separate platform from my Instagram account…So I think that [Tentang Anak] can be a very important part of it where we can be the trusted source and be the friend of the parents to enjoy this journey.”

A Parenting Platform for Childcare Experts

Paulo: It’s pretty clear from this whole journey that from day one it’s already been built on top of medical expertise. And that has only expanded through an even bigger network now that you guys have in terms of childcare experts, not just pediatricians, but all types of registered professionals. 

And I was wondering, given that you guys are founding a parenting startup with you Mesty, as a pediatrician, how does that influence the way that you look at how you’re building that app and how you’ve approached bringing together all these professionals onto the platform and all of their expert advice and information?

Mesty: So I have always had an interest in the children’s role since I was little. I realized that what happens [to us] as a child affects our lives [in our adulthood] in terms of our strengths and also our insecurities. This is also based on studies that 80% of our brain development occurs in the first two years and 90% in the first five years of our lives.

Trust the mother and doctor to build a parenting startup

I became even more confident that I wanted to be a pediatrician when I worked as a doctor in a remote area in Flores, Indonesia, where I was the only doctor and was responsible for the entire hospital. So even though it was very tiring, I always felt like I had a lot of energy when it came to pediatric patients.

Also based on my experience when I had my first son, as I told you, I needed to open more than four applications on parenting, you know, one for growth evaluation, one for stimulation, one for feeding menu, and many others, excluding Google research. So I wish we could create something that will reduce parents’ cognitive load and would make their parenting journey more enjoyable.

“So I wished we could create something that will reduce parents’ cognitive load and would make their parenting journey more enjoyable.”

Paulo Joquino: Another interesting thing that I learned is that you have both the current and the previous presidents of Indonesia’s Pediatric Society on your advisory board, which is obviously great that you have such respected experts who are aligned with you guys in terms of what you want to do. So we’ve talked about how the platform could enable parents, but how does the platform enable these experts as well? What’s the value proposition for them to actually help you guys out with this mission that you have?

Garri: So the way we look at it, [there are two sides] to the coin, right? Of course, it’s not only users who are actually benefiting with the app because they have access to the best-in-class experts. For example, the experts that we have, like the [ones on our] advisory board, if you even try to visit their clinics, the waiting game is around like three months for a one-on-one session with our experts. 

Democratizing access to best-in-class information and services

So the way we look at it is that the way [these experts] can also benefit [from the platform] is to spread all this public health information that is truthful and scientific. Because at the end of the day all the experts and all the doctors are here to save lives. To save lives and to see that children are actually growing healthy. So the more we can actually educate parents in Indonesia with what is truthful, what is scientific, and what is the best approach it in terms of growing their children and nurturing their children, from a healthcare perspective, mental health, psychology,  early childhood, and engagement, it will actually reduce their [cognitive] load as well. 

It’s better to prevent than to fix. So I think those are some of the values that we align with our experts. That’s why all of the information that we have in our app is free. We don’t charge anything for webinars or Q&A, even though we have experts who are always on the call, like on the app to answer any questions that are being posted by our users.

And everyone can do it for free because we believe that this education and this experience where any parent can ask about whatever is happening with their children that can be answered instantly by a pediatrician, it should be the same access for everyone because from our understanding that [that] UX is actually only accessible to a certain privileged set of Indonesians. So we would like to democratize that access for all parents. 

So one of the challenges for us from the tech perspective is [to figure out] how can we scale that given that there are only 4000 pediatricians, how can we scale that, so that every parent in Indonesia can always ask at Tentang Anak and get good feedback with recommendations, without even having to walks mile or even wait until the following morning to visit the closest clinic. So I think that’s one of the challenges that we would like to address and maybe Mesty would like to add more.

Mesty: Garri explained it well, [and] I think one of [our] most unfair advantages is, I’m also a pediatrician as well. So because I’m also in the [hospital] and I’m also in the field, I really see what problems the parents have and what we want to do to solve their problems. And since we also have been managing very good relationships with the professors, teachers, on-call […], I think as pediatricians as Garri said, we have a similar vision and mission which is to optimize the growth and development for the 80 million children in Indonesia. Because of that, the organizations or the doctors really want to work together with Tentang Anak.

“So the way we look at it is that the way [these experts] can also benefit [from the platform] is to spread all this public health information that is truthful and scientific. Because at the end of the day all the experts and all the doctors are here to save lives. To save lives and to see that children are actually growing healthy.”

Diving into the Tentang Anak product and its roadmap

Paulo: And just diving into the app, I would love to know, and I’m sure our audience as well and there may be some parents out there who actually,might be interested in the app themselves. So maybe you can share with us what they can expect when they get into the app?

Mesty: So Tentang Anak’s application currently provides holistic services. So we’re not only focusing on health, but we believe it takes a village to raise a child. So all the experts like psychologists and pediatricians are really important too. 

Tentang Anak to Indonesian Parents: We’re Here

So our app right now is in the form of personalized child stimulation activities with nutritional menus, growth trackers, webinars and ask-the-experts freely, and community engagement for Indonesian parents on everything child development, especially for children from 0 to 5 years old. So we actually want to be the one go-to app for parenting, because like I told you, I needed to open like five different apps for my parenting journey. So we wanted to create the all-in-one platform that you need. So when parents are going to have children, they will think, “Oh, I can relax. I already have Tentang Anak that will guide me towards my parenting journey.” 

I think what differentiates us is that we are all experts in the parenting space, and the app features highly curated information from Tentang Anak’s pediatricians, psychologists, child educators, financial planners, and obgyns. So we believe in the end, we need to do this together and we cannot do it alone. So we really collaborate with other experts.

“Tentang Anak’s application currently provides holistic services. So we’re not only focusing on health, but we believe it takes a village to raise a child.”

Paulo: It’s clear that the app has seen some really early success. In your press release, you mentioned the rankings, already ranked three or four on both the Play Store and App Store as well. So my question for Garri, more on the tech side and the product side of things is the importance of starting out first with content and as you mentioned, democratizing this content, building more access to this network that you guys have, in terms of the company,’s long-term scalability and the product’s long-term scalability?

Garri: So I’ve been in tech for more than a decade. Previously, it was more of commerce first and then content later. That’s the strategy that all my previous companies implemented, but I’ve seen a world where it’s actually content first and commerce later. It takes [things] up to the next new scale. We’ve seen what happened with TikTok, what happened in Grab. 

Delayed commerce-ification to build trust

And secondly, parenting by itself, it’s all about trust. You have to really build a connection with the parents. Secondly, parents really look up like who’s behind this screen? Who is giving me that information? So we’re focusing a lot on this trustworthiness and also the recommendation piece for the parents to ensure that they are always engaged in the app, not only once a week, once a day, but multiple times during the day and then we will move on to more stages where it’s going to be the commerce piece to compliment [what we have now] because I also learned from Mesty that there’s a lot of recommendations [going around] that kids in Indonesia should get a high dose of vitamin D, but in reality to get the vitamin D is very hard in Indonesia. So we have to be very balanced on education and recommendation, but how do you actually gain access to products and services? 

We would love to marry both. So as a parent, you can have less cognitive load. You have less browsing multiple spaces, multiple apps, just to get things done while at Tentang Anak everything’s curated, everything’s scientific and everything has already been preselected by the experts, but from the education piece, as well as the products and services. So that’s pretty much how we are actually trying to see where our business is going.

“So we have to be very balanced on education and recommendation, but how do you actually gain access to products and services? We would love to marry both.”

Paulo: Yeah, I really love what you said about going from commerce-first then content, now it’s content first and then commerce. And I think it’s not just for parenting, [but can be[ in many other industries as well. It’s a really interesting take and I want to build on that. And you mentioned how this viewpoint was shaped by your own experience, coming from your past experience at Tokopedia and Rakuten, and you also mentioned your family also having that Montessori background as well. How has this influenced your view on that and what you bring to the table?

Garri: Maybe because I’m more on the product I like things simple. So the way I look at it, it’s more [about] empathizing [with] what Mesty’s day-to-day [is] being a mom, [which] is actually very time-consuming right. You want the best for them, but at the same time, your kids are like crying, spilling milk on the floor, and whatnot.

Every child is different

As we have kids and have more kids, the time to actually research stuff, it’s actually going to be less and less. So that’s why at Tentang Anak we’re really not just reducing the cognitive load, but just to make sure that this is actually the best stuff for your kids from [when] they are awake until you’re asleep, everything’s already being pre-selected. So that’s what we are trying to give out to the parents. 

And secondly, given my tech background, we’re not just trying to build like a media company. We won’t just stop at the recommendation, because every child is different. Even if — Paulo, if you were to have twins, like kid number one and kid number two will have different needs. One loves vanilla and one loves chocolate ice cream. You’ve got to be ready for it.

How can we build an ecosystem that does not just properly recommend but is also very personalized to the kids’ stage of growth? How can we marry that [recommendation] with products and services we will offer the parents? Because right now, if I ask my friends, if I ask my cousins, more than half of our expenses, we spend it on the kids. But before it’s always, “Oh, according to X, according to Y, whatever they gave their kids, but what they give to their [kids] is not necessarily always the best thing that my [kids] need at that time. 

So we’re trying to give more education to the parents to ensure that whatever they give to the kids is actually the one that the kids need the most. So I think that’s more on the tech perspective. How can we build more personalization? 

“How can we build an ecosystem that does not just properly recommend but is also very personalized to the kids’ stage of growth? How can we marry that [recommendation] with products and services we will offer the parents?”

Synergies of a Strong Team

Paulo: Actually you bring up a really interesting point about the need for personalization here, it’s not just a nice-to-have, but it’s actually something that’s very much core to the kind of product or services that users would get from the Tentang Anak. I want to shift gears a little bit and talk more about the teams especially for young companies like Tentang Anak, the team is very important and how you guys approach bringing in leaders and you’ve already successfully had folks from unicorns coming into your founding team as well. So what has been your approach, and maybe Mesty can share a bit more on this, to build out a team that is both very tech-savvy, but at the same time, very much aligned in terms of the mission of [supporting] parenting and children in Indonesia?

Mesty: So I think back to the main mission of Tentang Anak, we really want to make a real impact and a [change] to Indonesia, as we know currently Indonesia is a country with a below-average human capital, even in Southeast Asia. So if we want to advance Indonesia, we must improve our human resources. That is our role at Tentang Anak. 

Marrying Hustle with Family-Oriented Culture

Other than that, the culture that we embrace is also attractive to the team. We all agree that our family and children are so important and our main support system. So we always say that we want to make the children in Indonesia happy and healthy, but if we’re working too hard, absorbed in our work, our family and children don’t get our attention. So we want to make sure the culture in Tentang Anak is about — even though we really want to work effectively and efficiently, we want to make sure that our own family and our own children are also in good hands. So that’s what attracts [them], especially since 70% of our team are also parents. 

“So we want to make sure the culture in Tentang Anak is about — even though we really want to work effectively and efficiently, we want to make sure that our own family and our own children are also in good hands.”

Paulo: That’s really important. I heard this piece of advice before: you should hire your customers. You should look for people who would actually use your product and then bring them in. And speaking of family, I’m pretty sure it would be remiss not to ask, raising your own family as well alongside building this company, how do you see this dynamic influencing your approach? We’d love to know how you see raising a family, yourselves influencing, and vice versa. And what advice would you have for parents as well, who are thinking of starting a venture together?

Garri Juanda: At the end of the day, I think we were lucky that we came from different backgrounds, different industries, and different expertise. So the things that we do, and even at work, it’s actually very different. For Mesty, I think she’s very great at marketing and product building at the end of the day, because she’s the core user, right? So she knows [what] does make sense, [what] doesn’t make sense. So her gut feel, I think, is always very spot on.

The family that builds a startup together, stays together

On the other hand, given my background, I’m more on the engineering, on the financial, even HR and financial reportings [side of things]. That’s something I have more definitely exposure with. So to be honest Mesty and I don’t have any problems [with running a startup together]. It is very natural. So I think that’s great, where we’ve been complementing each other. 

And secondly, I think it’s also a good example for our kids as well, seeing their parents actually, collaborating, partnering, and building something that is meaningful, not only for the world, but also for the two of us. So I think it shows [them], “The parents are all collaborating, working together, talking. That’s great.” So I think that’s at least my perspective.

Mesty: I think we communicate more after we [started] working together since both of us like to work. And also most of our time together we really spend on our…and also with the children but working together in Tentang Anak really increased our frequency of discussing things together.

True impact needs sustainable scale

And yeah, I’m very grateful that I have Garri as my partner because, as many people know, what I really have as my passion is to bring health equity, and also impact many people in Indonesia. But, I realized after my experience at my previous job that in order for us to make a huge impact, we need to create something that is sustainable and scalable, right? Because we [need to] be independent, if we cannot monetize, we will depend on the grants or on the sponsors. And sometimes the sponsors or donors have their own mission as well. 

So we’re very lucky that in the Tentang Anak we want to create impact, but at the same time, Garri helps me think [through] what I want to [do if] is going to work or is it sustainable or not? So, we will make sure that Tentang Anak will be bigger and more scalable and we can create impacts for all the children in Indonesia.

“…what I really have as my passion is to bring health equity, and also impact many people in Indonesia. But, I realized…that in order for us to make a huge impact, we need to create something that is sustainable and scalable, right?”

Community-driven growth 

Paulo: One thing I was curious about, and this is one of these questions that our audience really loves to hear the answers through is, do you have any interesting stories from any user or customer that you’ve had thus far since you’ve released the app? 

Mesty: Yeah, I’ve heard so much feedback and positive response, especially on the stimulation video tutorials. Actually [the reason] why we made that, since I still do my own practice right now as a pediatrician, so I caught all the [problems] on the field, like what they really want, what they request — “Doctor, please send me the video of how to [know when] a child can walk” or anything else. 

Ask and you shall receive

So you’d know many parents ask similar things. So I think that’s one way that we can focus on what we want to build for that. I need to make sure that it will help the parents. So maybe parents are very anxious and also stressed about their children’s [diet]; they don’t want to eat and they don’t grow really well. But since Tentang Anak launched, not only a menu, but also [a menu with] nutritional [info that] is created by nutritionists, parents tell us that they are in good hands. And we are very thankful for the feedback.

Garri: So Tentang Anak actually, Paulo, is a very community-driven roadmap company. All of the things that you’ve seen or app is actually [based on] all the things that Mesty’s clients and Mesty’s other [colleagues] clients ask them. So basically they just go to the clinic, and [look], in the past 30 days, what are the most [frequently asked] questions? Mesty brings it home, and together meet with the team, of course, with Mesty [and ask ourselves], how can we scale this? How can we reduce not only the parents’ load, but also the doctor’s load? How can we make this scalable?

So a handful of people can visit a pediatrician whenever they want, but there’s also the rest of the 20, 30 million parents in Indonesia having the same access and the answer that all of Mesty’s clients have as well. It’s really the other way around. So if our users are actually demanding something and we’ve seen a lot of [this feedback], that’s something that we’re instantly building.

So I think we’ve been lucky with that approach so far, and that’s been a good prioritization for the product development as well. And I think we would love to keep it that way and we are very lucky to have more than half a million social media followers. We’re number one in TikTok, the most followed parenting TikTok in Indonesia as well. We have a lot of feedback and we’re very thankful for that. So I think what we need is actually more feedback from our communities.

“So Tentang Anak actually, Paulo, is a very community-driven roadmap company. All of the things that you’ve seen or app is actually [based on] all the things that Mesty’s clients and Mesty’s other [colleagues] clients ask them.”

Paulo: I think that’s a really great dynamic to have with your customer base and being very community-driven. Going back to what Mesty mentioned about really building something sustainable and scalable, and obviously, Indonesia is already a massive market so how do you see the future of parenting going to be in Indonesia in the next five years? And what role do you see Tentang Anak playing in this?

Mesty: So I hope that we can make Indonesian parents, and feel more confident and feel accompanied on this journey as parents. As Garri mentioned before that we want to democratize access to all the parents in Indonesia, we believe they deserve to have all the best information from the best experts. So we really want to realize that. So in Tentang Anak all the journeys of parentings will be experienced by the parents [through] the application. 

At the end of the day, it’s all about the children

Garri: Our goal is actually to help the 80 million children in Indonesia. I think our wish is to touch the lives of these children in Indonesia one way or another. It could be online, could be offline, it could be omnichannel. But that’s where we are going to be focusing on, [and] we will always be evolving our business model.

We will expand the set of services that we provide beyond just recommendation or commerce as well, but I think at the end of the day, we will call our work a success, if two things happen. One we’ve touched the lives of 80 million children. Secondly, their parents say that we’ve changed their lives as well. We’ve helped them make this parenting journey a lot easier, because it’s been tough even for Mesty and I. So we would love to meet their needs, and be their digital, virtual partner, if I may say, to make their life easier as well.

“Our goal is actually to help the 80 million children in Indonesia…It could be online, could be offline, it could be omnichannel. But that’s where we are going to be focusing on, [and] we will always be evolving our business model.”

Rapid Fire Round

Q: What are the top 3 traits of a startup founder? 

Mesty: Empathetic, Effective, & Collaborative

Q: Most underrated aspect of parenting / parenting advice?

Mesty: Children need security first in their early life and not to demand them to be independent. If they feel secure, they will explore, grow, and develop better. Suggested answer: Our responsibility is to love them not to own them 

Garri: Role model. A lot of people say, be a good role model, but be a good role model in front of your kids is challenging. 

Q: What digital technology/innovation (apart from the tech you are working on) excites you the most today? 

Garri: Web3. 

Mesty: Ajaib. It’s been very useful.

Q: What’s the most memorable class you’ve been in?

Mesty: I had been dreaming of entering Johns Hopkins since I was in high school, but I didn’t think it was reachable for me but here I am now. It’s a dream come true and health equity is the issue that I’m most interested about. 

Garri: There’s a class at HBS called LEAD. So it’s a very touchy-feely class, it’s about looking at your past, looking at how you’re going to live your life with your partner and stuff. I liked that class. It kept me in check.

Q: What’s your favorite go-to destination in Southeast Asia?

Mesty: My heart belongs to Flores, East Indonesia, where the komodo dragons are. It’s also the place where I worked as a doctor and got many inspirations. I think it’s very beautiful end to end. You should go there! 

Garri: Also Flores. 

Q: Favorite activity with your kids? 

Garri: The thing that I always do every night is read good books around 8 pm, before we turn off the lights. That’s a routine that we have, and hopefully we still keep that routine until they’re in high school.

Mesty: I think Garri is good at playing to the kids while I’m very poor at it. So I really love to read good books and also play musical instruments with my kids like playing piano, usually I play like Mozart, but now I play Baby Shark — it’s enjoyable.

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