January 25, 2022

Gerald from kok-bisa | Founder Story #1

From a thesis project to the largest education media in Indonesia

What happens if the oxygen disappears for 5 minutes? Well, we are not answering that here, but kok-bisa does! kok-bisa is an Indonesian education media platform, answering thirst-quenching questions with fun animation. Since its first-ever video in 2015 that gained them 12 subscribers — mostly friends and family, kok-bisa has published hundreds of videos and gained 3.25 million subscribers. 

This is Transcend Founder Story #01, and this isn’t going to be a fairytale. So if you are ready, we’ll learn more about kok-bisa, its early days, how it was nearly closed down, and what they are up to these days.

kok-bisa’s founding story

kok-bisa started off as an undergraduate thesis of two guys who became friends because of their shared interest in music. 

The thesis was a rather humble idea of having more educational & high-quality content. Gerald and his cofounder felt like the growing internet in Indonesia was filled with fake news and not the most engaging content. The cool content out there, such as Geographic Discovery Channel or Kurzgesagt, is not always accessible to the Indonesian audience because they are in English and do not always answer questions relevant to the Indonesian audience. 

So, the kok-bisa duo (or, the two guys who were trying to graduate) uploaded their first animated video. 

And guess what?!?! Nothing happened. 

They kept publishing more content that nobody bothered to watch. For their 15th video, the team decided to answer the question: why is the Indonesian Rupiah getting weaker? The question was timely as the country was struggling economically and the only pointers people could get was news about politicians criticizing each other. kok-bisa’s 15th video gave an easy-to-grasp economic explanation of the issue. 

And just like that, Gerald and his cofounder woke up with hundreds of thousands of views. With that, kok-bisa was born, for real this time!

Challenges & early days

Being viral did bring some momentum, but also pressure that comes with it. 

The team was only two cofounders and one friend who helped on the business side of things. It was becoming even more important for them to make sure they were constantly producing videos that people find value in. It was still difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel or to know if there’d be any lights at all. 

But Gerald decided to take a chance and quit his day job — something that was a big deal for him being a child of a middle-low income family in Jakarta. 

Hitting the wall

Building a side-project is one thing, but growing a business is another thing. 

kok-bisa did grow, and at that point, it was no longer a two-three guys’ project anymore. Gerald, the illustrator for the startup, and his cofounder suddenly needed to lead, strategize, communicate with a lot more folks, and pay bills. It even came to a point where they had to make a decision if kok-bisa should continue because they ran out of cash. 

At the end of the day, they found their way by backtracking to design a management system, empowering the managers to support their teams, and growing to be leaders themselves.

kok-bisa now & the future

More than 5 years has passed since kok-bisa was founded, and we are delighted to shareto share that it’s running smoothly.

The media company is widely known in the country and has nurtured relationships with a giant media company and government agencies. Gerald expressed that it is safe to say kok-bisa operation is almost autonomous. 

With that, the co-founders felt the itch to do more. They have been dreaming about innovating in a new vertical, and to Gerald, it couldn’t be a more perfect time to be a Transcend Fellow and join the community. 

The 6-week fellowship has allowed him to relearn foundational things that he had put aside and update his knowledge with concepts that he never heard before, such as the idea of finding “magic” in your customer experience. Beyond that, Gerald is super appreciative of how diverse other Transcend founders are and how willing they are to open up and be supportive of each other.


Bonus: advice for self or other founders

“Work smart, don’t work hard.” *wink!

Extra bonus: full interview

You can find it here!

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