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Meet Our Mentor: Norman Sasono, CTO at DANA

Tell us a bit about yourself

I am currently CTO of DANA Indonesia, an e-Wallet and Digital Payment Platform that helps people in their Digital Financial Lifestyle. At the moment we are serving more than 90 million users and growing. Previously, I co-founded a bootstrap startup, a VC-backed startup, and worked for Microsoft in their Developer & Platform Group for a pretty long time. I got some industry awards like World Fintech CTO25, ASEAN CIO50, a council in Forbes Technology Council. I formally studied Engineering Physics, Mathematics & Computer Science. I am also a CrossFit Athlete and a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, also still sing in a weekend gig rock band.

How do you engage with startups? How do you help founders with their entrepreneurial journey?

I discuss with them. I really drill down till they can conclude their North Star, prior to discussing other things. Cos everything tied to or derived from this North Star.

What do you look for in a startup? What advice do you think you can give?

I always want to dig and be convinced beyond doubt that the startup is working on worthy problems to be solved. There is a real problem crying out for a solution, many face this problem, and the startup comes up with a novel solution to solve that problem. Business Model, Active Users, Revenue, are corollary. If one is really solving problems, people will use the solution, willing to pay, or there is another business model to sustain the business.

If only one piece of advice, this would be it: Start with what incredible benefits you can give to your customers/users, where you will take customers/users to, and work backward to technology, operations, structures, strategy, etc to deliver those benefits. Also, be very honest to see whether you deliver a “pain killer” or just “vitamins/supplements”.

What are some of your highlights as a mentor (events, workshop, office hours, etc)? What do you love most about mentoring?

I like the 1:1 interaction discussing the fundamentals of the startup's existence and purpose. Before digging into the technical mechanics of building an endeavour.

What I love the most is that I can meet and get connected to new people, exposed to new problems and solutions, and have the opportunity to learn from these founders. Learning is not a one way mentor to mentees. It goes both ways. It helps me to learn and grow and be a better person myself.

What made you want to become a mentor at Plug and Play?

P&P has focused on the area of startups to be mentored. Not random and too wide of the spectrum of vertical. The startups portfolio is also solid ones. Great founders, great startups, great products.

How do you see the Fintech landscape in Indonesia? What kind of fintech company that are more likely to boom in the next 3-5 years?

Trading values is a core activity in society. From traditional offline trading started millenniums ago, to the latest tech based online/digital e-Commerce experience. In essence it is trading values. The e-Commerce relies on two big pillars: Payments and Logistics. So the field that I am in now, Digital Payment, is at the core that makes society run. Hence, Digital Payment will thrive and become the primary method in society, no longer cash or other means. Once society gets used to Digital Payment as their lifestyle, it will increase their literacy to other areas like Loans, Investments and Insurance, etc. So all fields of FinTech will boom.

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Norman Sasono is our mentor in the first batch of the GK - Plug and Play fintech program. The fintech program is designed to accelerate innovation across financial services sectors, focusing on financial technology and other relevant technology that can help financial institutions to accelerate their innovation journey.

Interested in being one of our mentors? Join our platform here!


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