Survival of the fittest is a common proverb and is very applicable to the startup ecosystem. As such, startups face problems in developing a product, technologies or even simply software as a service. Without any protections, they are exposed to idea replication by competitors. Hence, every startup should consider intellectual property (IP) protection which ensures their value not only as a company but also their products and services. However, developing an IP strategy may not be relevant or the best form of value for upsurging digital service platforms. To understand more on how such service or solution providers operate at every stage of business development without IP strategy, we interviewed Mr. Ken Aoyagi, the CEO of Klik-Eat, a digital food & beverage (F&B) marketplace in Indonesia.
Klik-Eat, from Ideation to Foodspot Application
Mr. Aoyagi joined Klik-Eat as CEO in 2015 and he observed several companies had dominated Indonesia F&B marketplace. In a case of “if you snooze, you lose”, he then proactively pivoted Klik-Eat to be a service provider for F&B specifically as a marketplace for the corporates. “Realising the situation during the first 3 months I joined Klik-Eat, I quickly changed direction and met with almost 100 companies to introduce this service,” he shared. During the earlier phase, Japanese corporates in Indonesia were the clients and eventually expanded to local companies including canteen and mass event organiser.
Strategy with no IP Protection, Operational Focus
Mr. Aoyagi shared that Klik-Eat is a pioneer of F&B market place that focuses on corporates. As for now, there are 3 companies that are providing similar services. When asked how Klik-Eat strategized protection on the idea in the first place. He described that operational matters are the focal points in digital service platforms. “IP strategy indeed is important to protect ideas or technology in business development. However, maintaining operation is far more important for the digital F&B marketplace. This includes the delivery process, cash flow management, restaurant linkage and others”. He then shared how few of Klik-Eat former employees tried to replicate the Klik-Eat approach but in vain. This is mainly due to the inefficiency to maintain the operation
Klik-Eat remains at the forefront in F&B market place despite the emergence of other companies by working with several renowned restaurants in Indonesia as part of branding. Moreover, Klik-Eat now is venturing in canteen management and also as a solution provider. This is part of being sustainable in the long run.
Sustainability in Digital Service Platform and the Outlook
To sum up, consideration of IP strategy in business development is necessary but that is not the case for startups that capitalise digital service platforms since digital platforms are rapidly changing nature. Mr. Aoyagi’s advice is that digital business entrepreneurs need to concentrate on operational matters rather than renovating ideas. He shared that he was heavily involved in every aspect of business development even during software application creation.