HB Naveen: Leading by Example

DISCOUNTS are always attractive to people. Every time there is a discount program the sales of a shop always increase. To get discounts many people are willing to stand in line before the shop opens or visit malls at late hours.

The success of discount programs is clear from the huge crowds visiting a mall during a promo night sale. “We simply view this as an opportunity,” said HB Naveen, CEO of Falcon Interactive.

He explained that Falcon is a company that focuses on new media business. The company interprets every opportunity they see into the language of new media. “We always connect everything with IT and the mobile world,” he said.

That is why in the middle of last year Falcon launched a site called www.DiskonGokil.com, which not only contains information about discounts but also collaborates with various merchants to offer products with 50 to 80 percent discounts. It’s real; it’s crazy!

Naveen admits that a discount business like gokil is not the first. In the US there is a much larger player, Groupon which has also entered the Indonesian market via disdus.com. Meanwhile platform from Germany has entered the Indonesian market much earlier and offers similar products.

But the presence of other players has not discouraged Naveen. He said that DiskonGokil is different. “We not only sell discount coupons, but we intend to become a discount program catalogue in Indonesia,” he said. “We also offer transactions via Internet, but in the near future we will develop transactions via mobile phones, so apart from e-coupons there will soon be m-vouchers,” he added.

Naveen further said that he has already prepared a range of strategies to turn DiskonGokil.com into the largest company in this business. One of his strategies that has already been implemented is by collaborating with a private TV station to make a program with content supported by DiskonGokil. In the near future Naveen plans to make DiskonGokil as a virtual discount store for merchants that are holding promotional discount programs. “Consumers can shop at this store and purchase discounted items,” he said.

For Naveen the existing competition makes him feel more challenged and although he has to compete with world class players it does not scare him at all. “This is our territory, so we ought to understand the characteristics of our local market here,” he emphasized. Naveen is a hard worker and never afraid of taking risks. “If there is no risk I tend to feel restless,” he said, laughing.

Naveen, born in Jakarta on Dec. 12, 1971, has demonstrated he is prepared to take risks. The proof is that in 2006 he was reckless enough to leave quite a high position as Director of Bhakti Media to start a new adventure as a businessman on his own although at the time he was at the top rung of his career and had the full trust of the company’s owner.

Naveen also took the daring step of using all his savings for the investment in establishing Falcon Interactive. “I sold my car and I bought a cheaper one,” he recalled. He also had to discard any attributes associated with a position that he had previously enjoyed. “I had to start from the very bottom. I met all the account executives of various telecommunication companies,” he said.

Naveen said that he started Falcon with a high degree of optimism. He believed that mobile technology had a very bright future and no major player had become the king of the industry. “Every company had the same start up status,” he commented.

Falcon made its debut during the launching of Hape Esia Hidayah in collaboration with PT Bakrie Telecom Tbk. This handset targeted for Muslim users enjoyed huge success with a sales figure of over one million units. Next Falcon collaborated with Flexi for the launch of Kompas Phone which was also a hit in the market.

Naveen’s consistent determination has borne sweet fruit. In just five years Falcon has transformed into the most respected multimedia company in Indonesia. It now has a variety of businesses: new media, entertainment and education. “All these business pillars are combined with IT,” he said.

In new media business, next to managing DiskonGokil, Falcon also manages two other portals, namely www.lipstik.tv (portal for entertainment videos) and www.cekskor.com (portal for sports). “I strongly believe that new media will become a business with great potential,” he said while adding that in the not-too-distant future he will make some more investments in the new media business.

Falcon has also expanded his business by purchasing 10 percent of shares at Vuclip, a company based in Silicon Valley — which is applied in lipstik.tv.

In the entertainment business Falcon is included in the big three labels. This recording company collaborates with some of the most popular artists, such as Smash, Goliath, Iwan Fals, Rhoma Irama, Ridho Rhoma, Briptu Norman and others. “We ‘embrace’ everything that is happening,” he said while adding that Falcon is active in every business category here, including ring back tones for mobile content, full track up to the entire physical product.

Starting this year Falcon is also going into the film business. In October 2011 the company will release a film titled Mestakung in joint cooperation with Mizan, while in November the latest Rhoma Irama’s film titled Sajadah Ka’bah will also be screened. “Next year we plan to make six films,” he said.

Naveen added that one of his unrealized dreams is to make TV programs, but soon this will come true because Falcon has signed a contract with one TV station for the production of 13 TV films. “Our struggle in TV stations is still another one or two years,” he said while mentioning that Falcon is looking for a production house to be purchased to speed up Falcon’s TV program business.

In education Falcon is currently developing a reading center for the Al Quran with a new method, called Quran Learning Center. In addition Falcon is also developing an English learning program using an interactive method via www.carakita.com. “Soon we will connect all with IT and mobile,” he explained.

Falcon, according to Naveen, who is a graduate of Executive Program of Harvard University, will be consistently aggressive while ensuring that its core business will always be related to technology and media. He said that the organization within Falcon has developed in such a short time and now employs more than 200 personnel. “This organization must keep on growing with one commander and until now I am still the central commander,” he said.

He said that so far his leadership style has been based on “leading by example”. Very often he has to check that everything is according to plan. “The time has not come when I can become like Sir Alex Fergusson who only remains on the sidelines of the field. I still have to play actively for at least for the next 10 years, I think,” he explained.

While actively “playing” Naveen has to motivate his employees as well. According to him, as a multimedia company, Falcon has to continuously innovate to create new products or services that can attract the market. “We have to be able to read the ongoing and future trends and turn them into opportunities,” he said.

Unlike other start-ups that tend to make huge profits by selling the company to an investor, Naveen prefers to develop his business on his own. “We do not believe that there is any foreign investor that can help us here. This is our territory and we fully understand the characteristics of the business and Indonesian consumers,” he concluded confidently. (T. Hidayat)

The Jakarta Post, October 22, 2011


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