How this millennial turned $700 into a multimillion-dollar fishery start-up

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When she was young, Utari Octavianty often felt similar the underdog due to the fact that of wherever she came from. 

Her hometown is Kampung Bahru, a distant sportfishing colony successful North Sumatra, Indonesia, wherever galore don't person entree to education. 

There was adjacent a communal saying: "If you travel from a sportfishing village, you cannot win." 

That's wherefore Octavianty considered herself "lucky" erstwhile her parents sent her to a inferior precocious schoolhouse successful the city. But she rapidly recovered retired that determination was a "gap" betwixt her and her schoolmates. 

"I got bullied due to the fact that I travel from a coastal colony … I was not the aforesaid arsenic radical who already had bully acquisition and had nary economical difficulties," she told CNBC Make It.

The acquisition lit a occurrence successful her and sparked a idiosyncratic ngo — making definite that 1 day, her colony volition beryllium known not for its poverty, but for its potential.

"At the time, I didn't cognize however I was going to execute that, I conscionable wrote this successful my diary."

Today, these are not conscionable words connected a page, but a reality.

We helped fishermen to summation their income much than 2 to 3 times higher compared to earlier they joined Aruna.

Utari Octavianty

Co-founder, Aruna

Now, astatine 28 years old, Octavianty is the co-founder of Aruna. It's an Indonesian fisheries e-commerce start-up that works arsenic an end-to-end proviso concatenation aggregator, giving fishermen entree to a planetary network. 

To date, it has raised $65 cardinal successful Series A funding, which according to Aruna is the largest Series A backing for Indonesian start-ups. 

Humble beginnings 

Her entrepreneurial travel started successful 2015, with a seafood craving that Octavianty had erstwhile she was a last twelvemonth exertion undergraduate successful the metropolis of Bandung. 

"It wasn't casual to find bully seafood. My household serves seafood astatine location each day, but suddenly, it was truthful hard to find. I thought to myself, however large it would beryllium if we could bargain seafood straight from the fishermen [in coastal villages]." 

She shared her thought with her classmates, Farid Naufal Aslam and Indraka Fadhlillah. Together, they created a website aimed astatine gathering seafood demands of consumers and connecting them to fishermen. 

The past 21-year-olds decided to articulation a contention called "Hackathon Merdeka" to get capital. 

To their surprise, they won.

Utari Octavianty with her co-founders Farid Naufal Aslam (right) and Indraka Fadhlillah.

Utari Octavianty


But the bigger astonishment was the magnitude of involvement Aruna drew aft the website was launched.

"We got 1000 ton worthy of seafood request from customers … from restaurants and importing companies extracurricular of Indonesia that request continuous proviso of seafood." 

The trio rapidly got to enactment — utilizing the 2 MacBook computers they won successful the hackathon to proceed gathering connected the website and bootstrapping done freelance jobs successful website design.

Their archetypal important excavation of superior came from different competition, from which they won a currency prize of astir $700.

There are galore investors successful Indonesia, but to find the capitalist that understands our concern is not easy.

Utari Octavianty

Co-founder, Aruna

Though it was a "very small" amount, Octavianty and her co-founders utilized it to tally a aviator programme successful the seaport metropolis of Balikpapan, East Kalimantan. They stayed with a sportfishing assemblage for a month. 

At the extremity of their stay, they made their archetypal transaction with a section edifice successful Bandung. That was the infinitesimal they realized their thought was not thing that lone worked connected paper.

"We tin really marque this happen," said Octavianty.

Finding the close investors 

Over the years, Aruna expanded into much sportfishing villages successful Indonesia. As the request for their seafood grew, truthful did the company. But 1 situation that Octavianty faced was uncovering the close investors. 

"There are galore investors successful Indonesia, but to find the capitalist that understands our concern is not easy," she said.

"Some investors volition beryllium funny due to the fact that they spot the imaginable of this concern to scale. But we were selective … we wanted investors who wanted to put not due to the fact that of the company's potential, but besides its impact." 

To date, fishery start-up Aruna has exported 44 cardinal kilograms of seafood into 7 countries past year, astir of them to the U.S. and China.

Aruna

The fishery level exported 44 cardinal kilograms of seafood into 7 countries past year, astir of them to the United States and China, said Octavianty. 

But she said that her biggest accomplishment is giving fishermen nonstop entree to the marketplace and, successful turn, giving them just and amended wages. 

"We helped fishermen to summation their income much than 2 to 3 times higher compared to earlier they joined Aruna," she added. 

It's besides astir inspiring the industry. We spot truthful galore sportfishing companies successful Indonesia, who don't attraction astir sustainability.

Utari Octavianty

Co-founder, Aruna

While Aruna was stringent successful selecting its investors, it was this attack that made the institution much attractive, Octavianty said. 

"We unfastened up to the investors astir the challenges that we face, but successful return, we besides expect them, for example, to assistance america with connections oregon problem-solving." 

A sustainable future 

In January, Aruna announced a US$30 cardinal Series A follow-on funding led by Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia & India. With caller backing successful the bag, Octavianty is looking to grow into adjacent much sportfishing villages successful Indonesia and investing successful sustainable fishery practices. 

To date, implicit 26,000 fishermen crossed 150 sportfishing communities successful Indonesia usage Aruna.

To date, Aruna has much than 26,000 fishermen successful its network. It has besides provided much than 5,000 agrarian jobs and employed 1,000 coastal women for seafood processing.

Utari Octavianty

"Now that we person opened up the marketplace and we person much fishermen connected board, we request to beryllium very, precise cautious astir the food banal due to the fact that … Indonesia is already overfishing," said Octavianty, who is besides Aruna's main sustainability officer.

That's wherefore Aruna requires each their fishermen to absorption connected the quality, alternatively than the quantity, of catches, and refrain from sportfishing successful marine protected areas.

Aruna besides advises fishermen not to usage sportfishing gear, specified arsenic trawls and bombs, that volition harm the earthy seafloor habitat. 

"It's besides astir inspiring the industry. We spot truthful galore sportfishing companies successful Indonesia, who don't attraction astir sustainability," Octavianty added. 

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