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How I Got My Start in Tech

Updated: Mar 22, 2022

An Interview with Mutiara Hikma Mahendradatta

CEO and Founder of

On getting started in tech… I was born in Semarang, a city in the middle of Java, where my father and mother were educators, which explains my passion for education from an early age. It’s a persistence and willingness to learn which made me enthusiastic about formal education.

While completing my undergraduate degree in South Korea, I and two other founders built a start-up called Maleo Korea, a one-stop solution service for foreigners in South Korea. With support from the Seoul Global Start-up Centre incubator, it grew to rank within the top 40 global start-ups in the country.

But, after more than 4 years abroad, we decided to return home. When we got back, we noticed a gap - a gap which was accelerating - between the needs of the industry and the relatively inefficient skills of Indonesian children. This would be the spark for, a start-up focussed on STEAM-based education, which would allow us to use our 14 years of experience in STEM to bridge the gap to accelerate the quality of learning for students in Indonesia.

On how we can encourage more women to consider and enter the IT sector…

Honestly, women have considerable opportunities and strengths in the IT world. Female-led technology is usually more attractive and useful for the broad market.

Women are able to understand customers emotionally. Our strength is the tendency to be good at analyzing customer desires and preferences which can be expressed in a more user-friendly UI and UX with an easy flow analysis system.

Now, women are seeing increased opportunities at many companies, especially since many start-ups are looking for female talent because of their vision and missions towards gender equality. There are also many grants towards social impact and female empowerment.

On the biggest misconceptions about working as a woman in Tech today…

A woman in the tech sector is often described as a woman who is ignorant, someone who is busy with the world of coding and computers. She’s often framed as someone who focuses on work, tends to be introverted, isn’t sociable but rather self-oriented.

But, in all honesty, a woman in the tech sector is more like a sexy woman who is smart and equipped with future skills; skills with which she is able to make a positive impact on society with the help of technology.

On the career achievements she’s proudest of…

There have been many moments that make me grateful for my business journey. This year, was ranked best Edtech for Change; an achievement matched by VC-backed funding from Indonesia and Singapore.

While we continue building the business, our market share continues to increase with our retention rate of satisfied parents at a high of 85%. Because of this, the quality of our content has continued to grow, content which has earned the applause of the public, incubators and accelerators.

To top it off, our contributions to the Indonesian market have been recognised with 21 wins and awards in the last 12 months.

On increasing Indonesia’s digital education and skills…

The need for the transformation toward a digital society must become a movement to prepare for a golden Indonesia in 2045. Because of our demographics, we’ll be able to compete and scale beyond other countries.

For this reason, all levels of society, especially the productive generation must have digital skills to prepare themselves for future job opportunities as data scientists, AI specialists, programmers, big data analytics, etc.

Advice to Work In Tech learners

Invest in yourself, invest in your future!

Set aside one or two hours a day to upgrade yourself, learning future skills such as technology or foreign languages. With this good habit, you will accelerate your skills and increase your mindset toward lifelong learning. Moreover, it will have a big impact on yourself, your family, and society.

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