The world's best start-up hubs: Bali, Indonesia

Today our tour of the world’s best start-up hubs takes us to Asia for the first time, as we pay a visit to the island province of Bali...

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  • Population: 4.2 million
  • Pros: Picturesque location, friendly people, good prices and a wide range of start-ups already in place.
  • Cons: Indonesia’s over-regulation can be quite prohibitive, prepare to get used to filling in permit forms.
  • Cost: Staff, rent and living costs are all very cheap. However many places ask for office rent up front, which can be a challenge.
  • What to expect: ​A stunningly beautiful location with a rapidly increasing start-up scene.

Peter Wall is the co-founder of Hubud, a co-working space in Bali. The Indonesian island might be one of the only thriving business locations on earth to rival the beauty of Richard Branson’s Necker Island, but does the Balinese start-up culture rival those of other global powerhouses? We sat down with Peter to get an insider’s perspective.

What are the best aspects of doing business in Bali?

This is an easy one. The best aspects of doing business in Bali are the incredible environment and people here. It’s incredibly beautiful. For example, our office at Hubud backs onto a rice paddy, which makes it unlike any place I’ve ever worked. The people are pretty amazing too - starting with the local Balinese community, who are friendly, kind, and culturally sophisticated. The people at Hubud we interact with every day - some who come here for a week, and some who are here for months or even years - are running some incredible businesses, many as location independent entrepreneurs. So there’s a never-ending stream of inspiration for everyone to tap into.

What are the downsides to doing business in Bali?

Downside, what downside? Honestly, it’s a pretty great place to do business, as new ideas and projects can be launched much more easily than in other places, where costs are high and people feel more encumbered. One downside is that Indonesia has quite a bit of regulation, which means usually several different types of permits are needed for local businesses.

How would you describe the business culture in Bali?

Bali now has over four million people, so it’s hard for me to answer this one from an island-wide perspective, but I would say the business culture at Hubud is collaborative, inspiring, and (mostly) online. We have a huge variety of events each month, and almost exclusively get the content for these talks, skill-shares and think-tanks from our members.

Have things changed much for start-ups in Bali since Hubud first launched?

Yes - there are a lot more of them! One thing about being part of a growing ecosystem is it’s great to watch new start-ups and companies form in front of your eyes. Bali seems to attract lots of people who are transitioning out of one type of job (or life) into another, and over the course of the past year and a half, we’ve seen lots of these types come through the door. They come in not really knowing what they want to do next, then in a few months they have an idea and they’re off to the races!
 

What are the costs of doing business in Bali?

One of the attractions for start-ups and other companies working in Bali is, obviously, the cost of living is cheaper than elsewhere. So, costs are pretty cheap for staff, rent, etc. One large cost for bricks and mortar type businesses is that if they want a long-term office, they usually have to pay rent up front, which can be a challenge.

What tips would you give to an entrepreneur thinking of starting-up in Bali?

At Hubud we’re pretty into the lean start-up methodology, and we use the ‘spaghetti at the wall’ model a lot. We try things and see if they work. If they do, we keep doing them. If not, we don’t. So I’d say if you’re thinking of starting-up in Bali, come to Hubud for a month and see if you like it. And I bet you’ll still be here six months later…

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