Florian Pranata Hidayat of Indonesia is the young guitar-loving entrepreneur and is also the founder of Chorus – an app that allows people to fast track the learning curve of playing a guitar. He emphasizes on the need for having a passion in starting any business ventures.
Human Asia talks to him exclusively in this interview.
Tell us about this new startup of yours, Chorus
Florian: For everyone who loves playing guitar, most of the time whenever they hear their new favorite songs they instantly want to play it on their guitar. But the usual hiccup is that you have to take time to learn the songs beforehand. For beginners it’s even worse because more often than not, they can’t really memorize the chord shapes, let alone memorize which chords to strum in the song.
So it all depends on one thing: how do we make it easy for people to play any songs they want? We want people to just be able to do that and skip the learning part.
That’s why we created Chorus – a place where both guitar enthusiasts and beginners can easily play their favourite songs, without the need to learn how to play them. And the goal here is pretty much to spread the enjoyment of participating in music. You can get a lot more fun by playing a musical instrument – it’s a different way of enjoying music but you get a lot more fulfilment in this case.
Who is your target market specfically?
Florian: They will be guitar enthusiasts who are teens to adults in their thirties. Location-wise it’s not necessarily Indonesia, as we’d like to get people from other countries to try our app. But when we launch, it probably will be in some specific regions first as we have to make sure there won’t be any legal issues that may arise.
How would you monetize Chorus?
Florian: We plan to adopt a freemium model for Chorus, as we feel like it’s the most suited approach business-wise. And it will be subscription-based, where we plan to charge premium users 3 to 5 USD monthly. As for free users, we would have to either display some advertisements or limit their access to songs and give them incentives to become a paid user. We haven’t decided on the limitations yet.
Are there any similar products out there?
Chordify and Riffstation are competitors we need to watch out for. They use an algorithm to extract chords from songs on YouTube. The results sometimes are good, but they can be a little off as well. Indirectly, we also see Musixmatch as another competitor because we also provide lyrics to songs, even though it’s not our number one selling point.
Are you looking for investors for Chorus?
Yes, for sure.
But just like my other projects, I always want to test out the product first to see how the market reacts and receive feedback and insights on whether we should only fine-tune or do any major changes to the app, or even the idea. I’m only comfortable pitching to the investors once the users respond well and we see good numbers in growth, because after all, it ultimately won’t be my money that I will be responsible for, and I want to make sure that I am confident I can grow both the company and the product.
That said, I have a huge belief that Chorus will do well – among my previous projects this is the one that I feel has the strongest niche. But time will tell and I hope things will turn out for the best.
Florian, tell us more about yourself
I was born in Jakarta and I’m one of the few Chinese Indonesians in Indonesia. My childhood was just like any
other kid’s, but my family were also one of the many who struggled financially for a while because of the 1998 riots
in our country. But thankfully we managed to recover and I was lucky enough to be able to pursue my undergraduate degree in Hong Kong.
I enrolled in Electronic Engineering at HKUST and I graduated within four years. I stayed another year to work at a fast-growing startup named Tinklabs, which I believe is close to closing a new funding deal that will make them the first billion-dollar startup in Hong Kong. In 2015, I decided to leave Hong Kong and go back to Indonesia to start my own company.
Why become an entrepreneur?
It’s very simple – because this is what I wanna do for a living. I’ve always thought that my life is all about how much I can help others and how much I can contribute to society. Being an entrepreneur gives me the power to influence others – it brings me so much joy when people use and appreciate the product that I build with so much hard work.
And financial factors also come to mind. I can’t lie, I really want to become rich. But that’s not because I want to collect all the sports cars, live in a huge mansion or any such things. It’s because I want to be a philanthropist, I want to build schools for the poor, and I want to help others reach their goals in life.
What’s the most difficult thing in becoming an entrepreneur in your experience?
I believe you can never really prepare to be an entrepreneur, you have to really learn things on the fly and be good at it. You’ll face different challenges and you’ll be required to deal with new and different things each and every day. To always have belief not just in your product but also in yourself is another challenge. When things don’t work out you’ll always have questions and it takes a lot of persistence to work towards the bigger picture.
So what is the meaning of success for you?
I define my success in life by how much I can help others, in any way possible.
And it’s closely correlated to what I wanna get in life: happiness. It’s very satisfying for me when I can influence other people’s lives in a positive way.
Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
As cliche as this sounds – being an entrepreneur is really, really hard. And to be really successful, you need so much hard work and a lot of luck, and chances are, you’ll never even come close to owning a multi-billion dollar company that you dream of when you see Mark Zuckerberg and others like him.
Also, being an entrepreneur is really about creating for others and how you can make their lives better. So if you decide to be an entrepreneur, it’s got to be from a calling within you – you can get inspired but it must not be just because you want to be like others who are super successful. Everybody has a purpose in life and only few are called to be entrepreneurs.
You also have to be humble – always listen what everyone has to say and remember that you can always learn from others. Just because others haven’t done it, it doesn’t mean they don’t have something to teach you.
And finally, some say passion is very important, some say it’s very overrated, but let me just say this: it really helps if what you do is what you’re really passionate about. Because passion is going to be the thing that wakes you up in the morning, and motivates you to continue where you left off the previous night. Trust me, passion will be your strongest armor through thick and thin of building a business.
You can visit Chorus at www.thechordgenius.com