When David Magson came up with the idea of running a software company out of an island better known for its beaches, he had to live with the inevitable skeptical comments about Silicon Bali.
But now, having ridden the mining boom and the IT-driven cost-cutting era in corporate Australia, his Australia-Indonesia collaboration is turning its attention to the new demographic challenge of healthcare.
Indonesia might seem an unlikely place to have built an IT business, but after the recent US$550 million ($725 million) capital raising by Uber rival Go-Jek start-ups are all the rage, with even President Joko Widodo touting his own version of an innovation nation.
The Australian National University annual Indonesia Update conference this year focused on how the country is developing an ecommerce sector and starting to attract external investment for digital business ideas.
But Magson has already been there and done that with Mitrais, which started as a joint venture with the then large mining-focused software company Mincom.
Now it sells the services of several software companies focused on mining in Indonesia. And it also works on software development for up to 40 Australian companies at any one time.
Mitrais has about 400 staff spread between Australia; Bali, Bandung and Yogyakarta in Indonesia; Singapore and Vietnam, and markets itself as the smart alternative to India.
Magson is not particularly focused on south-east Asia’s gradual economic integration via the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), although he says the free movement of people would be helpful to his business.