We talked to Cristianto Rian Tarra of Tarrasmart about its top entertainment application and this is what he had to say.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Cristianto Rian Tarra: Praise God we are all well; I hope you and your family are doing well too.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Tarrasmart?
Cristianto Rian Tarra: I’m the founder of Tarrasmart. My story began in 2013. At that time, we were a small group of thinkers, creative and talented people who built products in a small room in Makassar, Indonesia. We are now connecting millions of customers nationwide in Indonesia every day with our awesome AI products. In the beginning, when I started my startup, I was a student at university; at that time, we created an application for listening to the radio and watching television online, and we managed to become the top entertainment application in Indonesia on the Playstore and Appstore.
How does Tarrasmart innovate?
Cristianto Rian Tarra: Even though we are the top entertainment app in Indonesia, it’s not enough to make us make big money from advertising. Because people started are not listening to the radio and watching television anymore on the internet. They prefer to consume content on-demand, such as YouTube, Netflix, or listen to songs via Spotify. We also pivot and create an analytics service for television and radio broadcasting companies. We utilize real-time voice and video recognition technology to analyze radio and television broadcasts, producing information that broadcasters and advertisers need to make decisions and increase their business growth. Our B2B services are very successful in Indonesia, mainly used by broadcasting companies to monitor their broadcast quality compared to their competitors. Also, advertisers can determine which broadcasting companies they can use to promote their products and services based on data.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Cristianto Rian Tarra: Our service is so successful that we plan to go public this year on the Indonesia Stock Exchange, but none of that happened because of the pandemic. Due to our sales in free fall because our business is B2B and all our clients who are broadcasting companies are experiencing a financial crisis, so our cash flow is significantly affected by this. The solution we are doing is closing the service and pivoting to the new business model. We decided to make our company an AI software development company for retail and industrial companies in Indonesia. And we are also very grateful that our company can finally continue to breathe because it has succeeded in getting several large corporate clients who trust us to develop their AI applications to us as their vendors. In addition, we also create content to educate startup founders in Indonesia not to make mistakes like what we did.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Cristianto Rian Tarra: The tough decision I made was to close our service and lay off some of our employees. I learned to give up something to achieve the next big thing. And make all previous mistakes a very valuable lesson.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Cristianto Rian Tarra: It’s not easy to deal with the stress and anxiety that my team and I have been through, all I do is make peace with the bad things that have happened to my company, and I still have the passion for achieving my company’s vision. It gave me the strength to continue working on what I started. I always remember why I started, and if I give up easily, it makes what I’ve been through a waste. Also, I am always asking why and why until I get basic answers to why I feel stressed and anxious. It helps me identify why I’m feeling stressed or anxious, and I tell myself, stay calm; everything will be okay.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Cristianto Rian Tarra: For me, competitors are friends playing tennis together; without them, businesses cannot innovate. We don’t compete because we prefer to collaborate with competitors. Rather than focusing on competitors, we continue to innovate to be at the forefront of innovating in our business rather than being a follower in the industry we run.
Your final thoughts?
Cristianto Rian Tarra: The pandemic is not the end of the startup founders’ hopes, but it has made us learn to dare to take opportunities to innovate more.