Nadiem Makarim And The Go-Jek Dream - The Man Behind The Revolution

The Go-Jek revolution is everywhere.

On the busiest streets in Jakarta, the green helmets of the company's drivers buzz round like mosquitos on a hot day. And they're multiplying. Fast.

Indonesia's fastest growing and most famous start-up is down to the dreams and aspirations of one man. Nadiem Makarim...

As an entrepreneur, Nadiem saw a problem - a need - and found a solution. The Problem? Indonesia's grossly congested roads. The solution? Well, Indonesia has had the solution ever since there were roads. The ojek, an informal motorbike taxi. The trick has always been to have the ojek concept organised and managed under one roof.

It was this conundrum that tickled him most. 

The original idea was that commuters would phone into a call center and request ojek drivers to pick them up and deliver the passanger to their destination, much like a traditional taxi service. The wheels to Nadiem's dreams began to turn when he started the project in 2009. Go-Jek was born.

Before he left for Harvard Business School in 2009, he left a humble operation behind in Jakarta. It was these relatively small beginnings, a call-center and 20 drivers, that would become the giant of business it is today. 

But it was at Harvard where he would meet his close friend, and fierce business rival, Anthony Tan; co-founder and CEO of GrabTaxi. Here's TechinAsia's tremendous infographic that spells out their rivalry:

Both Anthony and Nadiem had tapped into something different that the 21st Century could offer. It's exactly the same wavelength that Uber has spear headed, and the equation is quite simple:  

Idle auto-mobiles + eager drivers  = An affordable transportation service 

In the summer of 2014, Nadiem quit his job at Mckinley to work on Go-Jek full-time. For him, the choice was simple, and the time was now:

“I think that is the single biggest missing component right now with Indonesian founders. They’re all trying to optimize and validate. But if you’re going to make something big, and you believe in the market and you believe in your product, then go for it.”


The Go-jek app was launched and has been downloaded over 500,000 times. At this moment in time, Nadiem claims Go-Jek already has more than 30,000 drivers in the Jakarta alone. 

The best part is, the drivers that want to work for Go-Jek, who want to hustle that little bit extra, are of the same ilk as Nadiem Makarim himself. They all share the same entrepreneurial spirit. And as Go-Jek expands that spirit across Indonesia, more Indonesian's will jump at the opportunity to be their own boss. 

The next step? To move the millions of for-hire ojek drivers across the archipelago up the the business-food chain. A grand plan, but the time is right.

"Momentum is a very ephemeral thing, right? It goes up and down, and if you don’t catch it at its peak then you’ll lose it, and there’s nothing worse than losing momentum."

 Go-Jek is an entrepreneurial dream with a uniquely Indonesian flavour. May the momentum continue.