Prana Lim is the founder of Pet Societies – an online market for pet products in Indonesia that introduces traditional retailers to online customers. He sees a huge, relatively untapped opportunity in the pet market segment in Indonesia.
Human Asia speaks to Prana to find out more.
Tell us more in general about the market for pet products in Indonesia
In general the market in Indonesia for pet products is huge, very very huge, and the demand is very high and still growing very fast. In fact we are in the top ten of the fastest growing pet markets in the world. However the problem is that in Indonesia, such data are scattered and nobody really knows exactly how big it actually is. For cats and dogs alone it could reach one billion dollars in market size. In more developed countries, most of the offline retail stores have all converted to become online stores. Here in Indonesia, the retail stores are still comfortable being offline, but with technology finally catching up in Indonesia, many tech entrepreneurs are starting to tap into this market to disrupt it.
Tell us more about Pet Societies and how it all started
Pet Societies is a one-stop pet solution platform where we help pet lovers to acquire pets and purchase products required throughout their full life-cycle. Our system is very personalized and we are developing a special recommendation algorithm that could help pet owners understand their pets more so they could take care of them in a very specific way.
There were many reasons behind starting this business, but I guess the starting point was when I moved to Jakarta. I was alone and thought about adopting a pet. I began my research and realized that there was no single trusted source that I could go to easily to obtain information about pets, and when I finally found it, I didn’t even feel secure about making a transaction. In short, the process to obtain a dog in Indonesia was a pain. After I got the dog, the problem started all over again – where to find the information to buy this and that for my new pet? Can I trust this information? Where to look for help? Where to purchase my dog’s specific needs?
I wanted to have the buying process and all of these questions answered through one website and that’s when the idea for Pet Societies first came to me.
How do you differentiate yourself from traditional pet product retailers?
We actually work together with offline retail stores, and we are the medium between them and the customers. I cannot remove the offline experience entirely, but through us the customers will receive more benefits compared to when they go directly to the retail shops because on our website they will get better information and a better buying experience.
What were the challenges when you started Pet Societies, and how is it different from today’s challenges?
At the beginning, our problem was trying to convince the traditional mindset of customers and change their shopping habits to adapt to the online platform. Today, although some of that challenge still remains, our biggest one right now is to scale and find investors. Currently Indonesia’s startup ecosystem is sharply on the rise and unfortunately many investors think that we are a secondary sector as opposed to the many other primary sectors that they can invest in.
Where do you see Pet Societies in a few years from now?
Our vision is to become the number one source for people’s pet needs, not only in Indonesia but all over the world. We are confident that with the increase of living standard and household income, the pet industry will also grow especially in Southeast Asia and we are already seeing this trend.
Prana, tell us more about yourself
I was born in a small city called Medan and raised in Pekanbaru where my father was offered to be a factory supervisor. Being of Chinese background, we are always drawn to the idea of becoming our own boss or simply to become an entrepreneur. So after a few years of working for this factory, my father quit and started his own business. I was exposed to the business and found out that I actually loved it. After that stint in Pekanbaru, I went back to Medan for college where my mom’s family lived. I was again asked to help with the family business and at the same time I started my own online shop selling women’s clothes and men’s watches from China.
Upon graduation, I thought about obtaining experience by working for a big corporation and was accepted into a trading company where my career advanced. I then moved to Jakarta and was exposed to the startup ecosystem and that’s where my journey with Pet Societies began.
So being an entrepreneur was always something you wanted to do?
Life is fleeting and I don’t want mine to pass by without leaving a legacy, so my main aspiration is to create something that could make an impact to the world and be recorded in history books or even Wikipedia. By chance, I just happen to love entrepreneurial endeavors and pets.
If you could do everything all over again in your entrepreneurial journey, what would you have done differently?
I wish I had started sooner and taken bolder risks.
How do you define success in your life?
To live a life worth living so when your time comes, you can leave with a smile and with pride. It’s not about the success per se, it’s about the process of getting there and the impact.
Final advice for aspiring entrepreneurs
If you have something in your mind and you know you could do something about it and make an impact, don’t hesitate, take risks and change the world. I would like to share with you a quote from my favorite role model.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” – Steve Jobs
Visit Pet Societies at http://www.petsocieties.com/id/