Steven Gomedi, CEO and Co-Founder of building and construction platform Arsitag believes in keeping a steady hand on the ship's tiller no matter the coming storm. We speak to him to find out more.
"Good luck, bad luck, who knows?" The affable CEO of Arsitag, a marketplace for construction design and build services in Indonesia, cites the story behind this quote as key to supporting him through his entrepreneurial journey. Life challenges preconceived notions of 'good' or 'bad' luck. Like the irascible wheel of fortune, circumstances can change very quickly. The only thing that can keep us grounded and afloat is integrity, perseverance and a growth mindset. As an entrepreneur who was almost "two months away from bankruptcy" at the beginning of COVID-19, and a co-founder who has had to deal with the loss of key founding members, Gomedi knows a thing or two about steering a ship through unpredictable weather -- and still emerge on top.
Established in 2016, Gomedi and his co-founders created Arsitag because they believed in a safer and better way to contract construction professionals in Indonesia. According to Gomedi, even though national growth depends on built construction, Indonesia's built construction industry suffers from acute inefficiencies and a lack of transparency. Through Arsitag, Gomedi and his team aim to significantly improve the efficiency, transparency and safety of the entire construction process, from sourcing professionals to the actual construction.
Amidst a poorly regulated space with different levels of digital penetration, Arsitag differentiates itself by improving transparency issues while emphasising operational scalability. Gomedi emphasises that Arsitag empowers building professionals such as architects, interior designers and contractors. They provide a matchmaking platform for project owners and building professionals with project management tools tailored to the industry. "We want to help people build lives and businesses, and we are in it for the long haul."
Success, according to Gomedi, is defined by the daily work of "being a bit closer to what we imagined ourselves to be". In the last quarter of 2019, Gomedi recounts that the company was "two months away" from bankruptcy. The team have had their salary reduced by 50%, and Gomedi himself invested all his savings in keeping Arsitag afloat. This situation was exacerbated by the complete lack of transactions in March-April 2020 due to COVID-19 and the resulting government regulations. And yet, by the last quarter of 2021, Arsitag's revenue has grown ten-fold since 2019 and managed to achieve profitability despite the pandemic. To Gomedi, his greatest success was retaining more than 80% of employees and having the team continue believing in Arsitag's purpose during the company's most challenging moments.
At the same time, Gomedi's experience with his co-founders offers a sobering lesson in project-partner fit. According to Gomedi, while his co-founders had family backgrounds in the construction and property industry, they lacked the personal experience to navigate the realities of the market, resulting in costly mistakes. Eventually, they left due to differences in opinion regarding Arsitag's purpose. Yet, true to the Gomedi's introductory tale of the vagaries of life, he met his architect and interior designer wife while building Arsitag -- and found, through her family's experience in building materials, a reliable partner and a renewed purpose in improving the efficiency of Indonesia's construction industry.
Today, the new father spends his leisure time with his newborn child and family while continuing to build Arsitag towards its purpose. "I'm a dreamer. I'm not afraid of death, but I'm afraid of dying without having really lived."