Bryan Stewart: Startup Consultant by Bill Dalton

Bryan Stewart was born in Vermont. From 1996 to 2000 he attended Grinnell, a small liberal arts college in Iowa. Bryan graduated from Tufts University in Boston in 2007 with a degree in international business and finance. His first job out of college was as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bulgaria. Before starting his career as a venture capital and private equity advisor, he did some business consulting and worked with NGOs in international development. Bryan is the co-founder of the co-working space Outpost in Ubud. His clients include the initial investors of Gojek, one of Indonesia’s best known business success stories.


How do you recognize an inspired start up?

The founder. Businesses take on the personalities of the founder. You need to see passion there. Without it, the business doesn’t have a chance. Investors also look for competence in CEOs. The CEO is most responsible for the direction of the company. Everything else matters less. With that said, different investors have different views on what competence is.


What is the best way to seek funding for startups in Indonesia?

If seeking capital in a startup’s initial stages, the best way to meet funders is to first have a great (and well researched) idea, and then get out there and meet people. Discuss the idea. Potential investors are everywhere. There are many sources of capital beyond the typical “VC.” Put yourself out there and reach beyond your usual circles.


At what point should a startup look for private investment?

A startup should seek funding only when it needs it. Often times that means struggling without enough money to see if you actually need it or can bootstrap awhile longer. Having funding you don’t actually need can often be a curse, as that’s when you take your eye off the bottom line. I find that funding often flows to those who already have it. Therefore, those who need it have to really make the case for it. They need to demonstrate the results they can achieve once it is secured.


Can you give examples of the amount of capital that a new company needs?

The amount a new company needs can vary drastically. Are you a tour company that needs money to develop an advertising strategy or are you a small hotel chain that wants to invest in property? The needs can be very different depending on the growth strategy.


What is the most effective way to present a startup’s activities to a potential investor or partner?

Develop a concise way to explain what you do—how you add value and how you’re different. It takes a lot of thinking to be concise and comprehensive. The more concise the better.Every successful startup solves a specific tangible problem. If you can’t explain what that is, don’t bother trying to raise funding until you are able to explain it. And be prepared to always talk about what you’re doing. You never know who may be able to help.


What should the presentation focus on?

Investors want to see an opportunity. They are taking big risks, so they need to believe there is a clear path to profitability. They aren’t giving money to fund your dreams. They are giving money so they can make a return. They don’t just want to be a part of something innovative, but also something that is profitable.


Is the CEO always the best person to make a presentation to investors?

It would be great if the CEO could also be the person to pitch. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes they don’t have the best presentation or communication skills, but are very strong in other areas. In this situation they need others on their team – just as committed as they are – to communicate the message.


How do you recognize talent in a company?

Investors are looking for people with a track record of success. It’s hard for people to get money without a history of success. Investors want to feel the company they are giving money to has the competence to bring the company to the next stage of growth. Investors also want to see a strong leadership team where each person is well suited to their role. A crucial step in setting up a company is to find talented people to buy into your idea. You’re not going to build a company alone. Get a good team.


What are the key differences between those who get funded and those who don’t?

The difference between the two can be as simple of timing. It would be a difficult time to start a transport company to compete against Uber or a platform for sharing property likeAirbnb. You have to think what is next, what does the world not yet do but should. But there are a whole bunch of other reasons people don’t get funded. The market is slow; the team isn’t qualified or you are not meeting the right people. In short, there is only one reason you get funded. Investors believe there is an opportunity and that your company is the best positioned to address it.


What are the most common mistakes that Indonesian startups make?

Indonesian companies are not vastly different than other companies. They succeed and fail for the same reasons as international companies. The one difference is that the startup culture in Indonesia is still very young. Consequently, there are not a lot of seasoned entrepreneurs or mentors. This can make it challenging for a first-time entrepreneur to find sound business advice.


What are the most common obstacles that make it difficult for a startup to succeed in Bali?

Bali is a great place to start a company. The number of international ideas funneling through and the fact that you have a relaxed atmosphere to think through a business make it a fertile environment. After all, thirty years ago the tourism industry was comparatively small. Now Bali is a world class destination, thanks in no small part to many small-scale entrepreneurs building tourism-related businesses. Today, people look upon Bali increasingly as a place to seek inspiration to fuel new ideas that can grow in fertile Bali soil. Look no further than Livit to see a successful incubator. At the same time, regulations make it a challenge.


What types of businesses are most likely to succeed in Bali?

Historically, businesses that focus on agriculture, real estate and tourism are best placed for growth. Those three sectors do well on Bali. It doesn’t mean that other companies won’t succeed. Patterns in work and living are changing globally. That’s why we founded Outpost. People are no longer chained to traditional global innovation centers if they want to build a world class company. With the right amount of infrastructure, community and support, it can be done from anywhere.


How may you be contacted?

Outpost, Jl. Raya Nyuh Kuning, Ubud, tel. 0361-908-0584, email:


For anyone interested in being considered for Siapa, please contact: <>

You can read all past articles of Siapa at

Copyright © 2017 Bill Dalton