Michaelangelo Moran known to his friends simply as “Mikey” along with his high school friend Nadiem Makarim co-founded GO-JEK, transportation, service, payments, and logistics delivery mobile app now valuated at over 10 Billion dollars. I recently sat down with him in Bali Praia to learn his entire story.
This is the first time he’s shared deeply about his full journey.
There are so many lessons that we can learn from Michaelangelo’s journey as well as business knowledge and experience that few in the world have to offer.
Michaelangelo Moran was born in Jakarta, Indonesia. Michaelangelo is a world-class entrepreneur who has been featured in the 40 Under 40 by Prestige Magazine.
His professional career started as an Operations Manager at Hugo Boss Indonesia and also working in event management company Martini Link Communications for clients such as Lucky Strike, Dunhill Cigarettes, Prestige Magazine, DestinAsian Magazine, and many other product launches.
Since then, he has co-founded and was the Brand Director for GO-JEK Indonesia – the country’s first DECACORN super app tech company in Indonesia for formalizing the motorcycle taxi industry to provide transport, courier, shopping, food delivery and many other services doing 100 million orders a month and serving more than 2.5 million people.
In addition, Moran has co-founded Semua Properties Bali, which he calls “an end-to-end solution” for real estate, and also Arc MediSpa in Kemang, Jakarta, a beautiful aesthetic and wellness company that provides non-surgical treatments.
He co-founded Bali Praia, which is the first creative space for musicians, DJs, and artists, as well as a record label based in Bali. Bali Praia is where artists and DJs can produce, DJ, and learn how to produce and DJ as well as a networking place as it constantly does creative workshops to educate the general public.
He also somehow also finds time to be one of Indonesia’s leading DJs. “DJ Mikey” performs internationally as well as in Jakarta and Bali. His last project, Streamland, encompasses live streams for DJs that helps raise money to help feed the locals in Bali, the island which he now calls home. This project is so relevant in today’s times, and Streamland partners with an organization called FEED BALI made by the Tresna Bali Cooking School who is delivering food parcels with local ingredients to more than 1000 families in Bali.
Mikey has been featured in Voice of America Indonesia and several other TV appearances.
It was always a goal for me to make my own name in life. My family comes from a fashion background. Being half Indian and half Indonesian Chinese, I grew up in my earlier years in Jakarta and then Singapore (where I met Nadiem, the co-founder of GO-JEK). After I graduated college from Boston in 2003 and moved back to Indonesia in 2004, I asked my parents to cut me off financially. As my first job back home, I worked in event management for prestigious corporate events with large scale budgets. If you have ever worked events before, you would know it’s very tough and time-consuming, but the rewards are next level. The company that I worked for was Martini Link Communications, made by Reza Yohanes and Angelina Sumarno. After a tough but successful event launching the rebrand of Dunhill Cigarettes, we became the official event organizer of British American Tobacco Indonesia – organizing all Dunhill and Lucky Strike events. In the meantime, I was also becoming a DJ, co-founding Trigger Management, which created events in clubs featuring international DJs and sponsored by the likes of Class A Mild, Marlboro, and Red Bull Indonesia.
Through all this, I learned that event management really teaches you to be goal-oriented, as well as the importance of team, task, and time management. This is because the entire event revolves around a strict deadline and a tight budget. Through our clients, I learned the importance of details and how no detail is too small when it comes to execution.
After working for events, my parents asked me to join the family business. My family was the first to bring in an international brand into Indonesia with Levi’s Strauss in 1966. By the time I joined the family business in 2005, my family had already built a fashion empire, franchising many European brands to Indonesia, such as Hugo Boss, Aigner, Prada, Mango, Jimmy Choo, Todds, and many more. During this time, I became the operations manager for Hugo Boss in Indonesia. It was quite the change from having meetings in Starbucks planning events to the corporate 9-5 suit and tie environment. What was fun was that I managed to do the buying in Hong Kong for the next season’s collection, which was a highlight for that year. After much thought, working in the company for a year and a half, I decided to call it quits and go back to event management, creating Danceflo Productions – also together with Nadiem Makarim as well as Sayan Gulino and David Jacobson. It was during the Danceflo era that I got inspired to become a new media designer and hence applied to the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.
I could say this is really where the journey began. I always was a creative person, but I didn’t have the tools nor even the guide to learn and shine in this field. I was the top of my class learning subjects like Photography, Design, Motion Graphics, Web Development, etc. This paved the way for me to design the GO-JEK logo, my first client out of Academy of Art, when I graduated in 2010. My first client ultimately led me to become the Co-Founder of the company.
From here, the entrepreneurial journey began.
A big turning point in my life was when I decided to go back to school and pursue a design degree at the Academy of Art. It was single-handedly the biggest decision of my life and is the reason I am where I am today. For me, the challenge was breaking away from monotony and expectation. I did not thrive or grow in a repetitive environment. I was always seeking challenges, obstacles, and goals, which, until today, is my biggest driving force. Exiting and moving on from the family business in 2005 was a huge leap, and along with all of my previous work experience, ultimately paved the way to my entrepreneurial success. I loved what I was doing at the Academy of Art, and I became very good at it. I think success comes from passion, it may not be discovered early, but passion drives your motivation. From here, stay on course, be focused, and keep doing what you love. The money will come later.
Finding the right people has always been one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced. This may be on the higher co-founding level or down to even hiring the right people for your team. This is an ongoing challenge and one that I still haven’t found the right solution to. My only advice, just like with anything, would be that there are always other people and other opportunities, sometimes you just want to jump the gun and move forward. However, handpicking people is a long process, and one you should only do when you are comfortable. Do some proper due diligence, take your time, evaluate all your options, and this will de-risk yourself from further problems that may incur.
Stay grounded. It’s easy to sway away and be caught up in it all. Remember to keep on your toes and be flexible, because you never know what kind of curveball is going to be thrown at you. Be fearless and navigate through failures. You can’t get to where you need to go without taking some risks.
What is your biggest advice to people to becoming a successful entrepreneur, financially, and also in terms of personal growth?
It all starts with the idea that leads to the product/service, followed by a business plan, budget, and then fundraising.
YOU REALLY NEED TO WANT THIS – You need to walk and talk to the brand, people need to see the passion come out of you with whatever you are trying to do. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you need to put in your hours and hard work. Make sure to always stay focused and dedicated to the end goal.
I think it’s important to VISUALIZE goals – Set yourself a BHAG – Big Hairy Audacious Goal…this is your long term, possibly for some an unimaginable goal. Something you wish to achieve. In the meantime, set your short term KPIs, what you do want to achieve in three months, six months, and one year. It will allow you to measure your success and stay on course.
NETWORK, network, network – Get out there, spread the wings of your business and brand. Do it the old fashion way. People want to relate to the owners and put a face to the business, and you can’t rely on social media all the way.
You need to be PATIENT – GO-JEK nearly shut down multiple times before we got properly funded because we were unable to stay afloat. But we stayed dedicated and did not lose focus or encouragement. Once the time and market were right, we were able to scale and take the company to new heights.
PREPARE FOR THE WORST – There are times when businesses are not necessarily doing well. This global pandemic is probably the best example of businesses suffering due to the lockdowns that are happening. Be prepared that there may be no sales for six months forward and have some cash ready to survive. These things are unpredictable; its best to take the necessary steps to have that peace of mind and be prepared for whatever financial challenges may arise.
Always continue LEARNING – There are plenty of ways to keep yourself inspired. This can be in the form of watching tutorials, taking online courses, attending seminars, hanging out with other entrepreneurs and CEOs to continuously expand your knowledge and horizons.
Are there particular people (family, mentors, books) in your life who helped you progress in your entrepreneurial journey?
On the top of the list would be my parents Nico and Dewi Moran, who taught me the importance of business ethics, client management and emphasized personal and professional growth. Through my parents’ actions and dedication to their businesses, I saw the importance of sacrifice and hard work from an early age. I saw firsthand that in order to succeed, you need to put in the hours and that any of your successes is a reflection of your hard work.
Next are my co-founder and partner, Nadiem Makarim. He ignited my entrepreneurial path and mentored me to create success by thinking steps ahead and being firm and dedicated to the goals set upon you. From the creative standpoint, I need to highlight my teacher and also department head Bob Rigel and Gino Nave at the Academy of Art University, San Francisco.
The entrepreneurial road is not an easy or straight path. The journey requires a tremendous amount of dedication and sacrifice. I’ve been through a lot of big ups and downs mentally, physically, and professionally while I have been on this path, and you have to remember to take care of yourself and not push your limits. I have also learned that being successful has its perks, but you will only feel complete if you are truly happy at the end of it.
Remember to enjoy the process. Life is a journey, a rollercoaster, but if this business is your passion, and it feeds your soul, the sky’s the limit for you.
Connect With Mikey