When Nadiem Makarim launched Indonesian ride-hailing service Go-Jek back in 2010, he couldn't have anticipated its runaway success.
For him, it was simply a way of improving his country's flailing motorcycle taxi industry. But, within six short years, Makarim had gone down in the history books as the founder of Indonesia's first unicorn — a start-up valued at $1 billion or more — and, today, at the age of just 34, he is the CEO of a company with an estimated value closer to $5 billion.
It all started, as many start-ups do, at Harvard. Having grown up in Indonesia, Makarim had seen first-hand how important motorcycle taxis, known locally as ojeks, were to the country's economy. And yet, the market was hampered with inefficiencies in pricing and reliability.
So, while studying for his MBA, Makarim decided to do something about it, teaming up with co-founders Kevin Aluwi and Michaelangelo Moran.
“I think lot of people did not believe back then that ojeks could be professional and could be trusted," Makarim told CNBC's "Managing Asia."
“That was very frustrating for me because I got to know many of them personally,” explained Makarim, saying that, while working in Indonesia, he would regularly hire them to make deliveries and collect food for him. “By getting to know them I quickly realized that this informal sector is incredibly valuable.”