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Arizona State grad brings one-stop car service app to vehicle-choked Jakarta

Arizona State University
Otoklix was founded in 2019 by Martin Suryohusodo, Benny Sutedjo and Joseph Ananto in Indonesia. Source: Joseph Ananto

Otoklix was founded in 2019 by Martin Suryohusodo, Benny Sutedjo and Joseph Ananto in Indonesia. It allows users to book services online at a recommended workshop nearby for the best price — bypassing any scams, or unnecessary elective services authorised dealers are notorious for. This startup also provides customer relationship management alongside being a supply chain management solution for independent car workshops — doing the research work for you. 

In Jakarta, a congested home to more than 20 million motor vehicles, getting cars serviced and repaired is a tedious affair for both customer and independent workshops. 

Arizona State University

In December, Otoklix announced it raised US$2 million in financing with Sequoia Capital India’s accelerator programme: Surge. Source: Joseph Ananto

In this space, Otoklix — a service that connects the two — is being embraced with open arms. Last December, it announced it raised US$2 million in financing with Sequoia Capital India’s accelerator programme: Surge.

One of the key minds behind the startup’s success is Arizona State University graduate Joseph Ananto. We caught up with him to learn more about his US engineering degree and how that led him to co-found one of the hottest new startups in Jakarta.

Arizona State University

Commuters travel on main roads during an afternoon rush hour in Jakarta. Source: Bay Ismoyo/AFP

Where did your interest in engineering stem from? Is there a personal backstory behind this?

I’ve always been interested in Hollywood and the way they portray magic in the movies since young. What closer way to live these magical experiences through engineering and technology? In the Harry Potter movies, they solve problems with the help of magic gifts, wands, invisible cloaks and so on. In real life, I imagine engineering is a magic gift for people experiencing problems like not knowing where to service their cars. Otoklix can be that mentor and provide magic gifts — from the app, the workshops and the whole servicing experience. 

“Growing up in Singapore and attending a local school (Anglo-Chinese Barker Road and Anglo-Chinese Junior College), influenced me to take up sciences,” Ananto says. Source: Joseph Ananto

Why did you choose to pursue chemical engineering at Foothill College in the US?

Growing up in Singapore and attending a local school (Anglo-Chinese Barker Road and Anglo-Chinese Junior College), influenced me to take up sciences. My intrigue in the magical Hollywood experience pushed me to do chemical engineering. 

Why did you choose to further your education at Arizona State University?

I am a person who lives through experiences and I have always wanted to venture out on my own. In this case, Arizona is a place where there aren’t a lot of Indonesians so the intrigue of the unknown always had a pull on me. 

Tell us more about your career trajectory with Otoklix since graduating from Arizona State University? Where did the inspiration to start this come from?

Personally, the reason I decided to launch Otoklix is because I have always wanted to bring cars to service in authorised workshops. I myself do not know a lot about cars, so I would always go to authorised dealers as a safe option paying for services out of my own pocket.

Arizona State University

Through personal experience with finding appropriate workshops for car services, Ananto decided to found Otoklix. Source: Joseph Ananto

One day, my BMW broke down in the middle of the road and after getting it towed and sent to an authorised dealer, the inspection showed extensive damage with an amount I could not come up with at the time. 

I decided to look for alternatives on Google Maps and it turns out there was a BMW specialist that was able to come to my house. I contacted him, he came over and inspected my car. It turned out that I only needed to change the water pump instead of the thousands of things recommended by the authorised dealer I brought my car to. The bill was nowhere near to how high it was from the authorised dealer. 

Here, my appreciation of mechanics came about and I have always brought my cars to this workshop recommended by my parents ever since. During one of my holidays back home in Jakarta while studying in the US, I discussed this with Martin Suryohusodo (co-founder) over drinks. He then began drawing up the master blueprint for our company which is how Otoklix pretty much started.  

How do you use the knowledge and skills gained in your uni course in your current job role?

In terms of technicality, I don’t apply what I learnt in uni as much. To give a bit of context, I got my bachelor’s in manufacturing engineering where I learnt to make customised parts for all sorts of industries including automotive to industrial and aerospace. What I do use is the logic of understanding a problem and the steps I need to analyse them, break it down and formulate the best cost-effective solution possible. 

Arizona State University

“Take a moment to reflect why you are taking part whatever it is you decide,” is Ananto’s recommendation for students looking to study abroad. Source: Joseph Ananto

Do you have any skills or knowledge you wish you learnt more during uni?

Debating and computer logic. Debating, so I could have a head start with regards to challenging my peers in the context of problems with discussions. Computer logic, to learn how to code and make my own programmes — something relevant going forward as it’s where the tech space is headed. 

What advice do you have for international students planning to enrol in the same course as you did?

Take a moment to reflect why you are taking part whatever it is you decide. If the answer is unclear, try getting experience in first-hand (a part-time job at a burger stand, an internship, volunteer work, etc). Do something while you decide what it is you actually want to do. 

What’s one thing from home you missed and how did you substitute in the US?

People like family, friends and loved ones. For this, there is no real substitute except to make time for them with video calls. 

What would you like to be doing and where in ten years?

I would like to be travelling all over the world. Hopefully soon, Otoklix will have grown enough to not need as much attention. However, as it’s my baby, I will always nurture it like I’ve done from day one. 

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