September 16th, 2020
Lorenzo Peracchione co-founded BukuKas in December 2019 to empower millions of small business owners in Indonesia to go digital, run their business more effectively, and increase their degree of financial inclusion.
Lorenzo started his digital journey as an early team member of the e-commerce marketplace Lazada (now part of Alibaba Group) in Indonesia in early 2012.
Before BukuKas, he led Sephora’s e-commerce business in SEA and ANZ, spearheading the digital transformation of their business into mobile-first in 10 markets. Prior to this, he had set up and scaled Luxola.com’s business in Thailand which was acquired by the global player Sephora (LVMH Group) in July 2015.
Read below for a full interview of Lorenzo by Laurent Billieres!
Laurent Billieres: Hello Lorenzo, could you tell us a bit about yourself and your business?
Lorenzo Peracchione: I am an entrepreneur and tech enthusiast hustling hard to support the current megatrend of increasing financial digitization and inclusion in SEA. I co-founded BukuKas alongside my long-time friend Krishnan Menon in December 2019 to empower millions of small business owners in SEA to go digital, run their business more effectively, and increase their degree of financial inclusion.
BukuKas today is a simple digital ledger app allowing users to digitize their bookkeeping, saving a lot of time previously spent on tedious manual calculations and greatly increasing their visibility and control over their businesses. Over time, we plan to introduce digital financial services specifically tailored for small business owners to further create value for our users.
LB: Because we cannot avoid a COVID question, you see this as a drawback or opportunity?
LP: Of course, we are sad to see many of our merchants severely hit by COVID-19, with many facing revenues drop above 60% or even shutting down. At the same time, starting May, merchant revenues have begun to improve, and their profitability is beginning to converge back to pre-COVID-19 levels as of July.
COVID-19 actually translated into a significant growth opportunity for BukuKas. Since the start of the pandemic in late January 2020, we have grown our merchant base by 25x with a Compounded Monthly Growth Rate (CMGR) of 54%. Our app gives merchants more visibility over their business and helps them manage their expenses and cash flows more effectively. As such, it provides them tremendous value in these difficult times.
LB: What channels are you leveraging for growth and retention at the moment?
LP:In terms of paid channels, performance marketing is our primary acquisition source. The leading walled garden channels (Facebook and Google) are the backbone of our strategy, but we are also very active on TikTok. We are exploring collaborations with new advertising partners every month, like recently with Bukalapak to advertise to their merchants.
Our app also has a strong in-built virality component, through the many sharing features that allow merchants to manage their day to day interactions with their customers and suppliers via WhatsApp and other social media. This is a big driver of organic downloads for us.
LB: BukuKas is digital-first, can you tell us a bit about your marketing technology stack? How do they fit together?
LP: Our Marketing technology stacks includes a variety of tools. As a data-driven business, the ability to collect, process, and leverage data across different channels is critical. The main tools in our Marketing stack are:
LB: How do you balance cost, features, building your own tools & future use cases for your marketing strategy?
LP: As every early-stage startup, we face obvious constraints regarding resources (budget, tech bandwidth) and need to move fast. Thus it is essential to control the number of third party solutions we implement. When it comes to build v. buy decisions, it all boils down to whether the capabilities at stake are part of our core business and the quality of third party solutions available in the market. The critical criteria for selecting partners are:
LB: How important is support from those providers?
LP: Support is one of the most critical aspects of the relationship with third-party solutions providers. We look for partners that genuinely care about our partnership’s long-term success and are willing to work closely with us to create new ways of solving problems. From a day-to-day point of view, we ensure partners have good response time and support SLA. Our services and marketing activities run 24-7 so obviously there is no room for downtime!
LB: Who is using external tools in your team?
LP: Our business is all about collecting, understanding, and leveraging data, so most teams and people in our company heavily rely on third-party tools for their daily activities:
LB: What should a company never outsource?
LP: Every company needs to be clear about the core capabilities necessary to win in their business and make sure those sit internally. Capabilities sitting internally doesn’t necessarily mean no third party tools are involved; it means that from a strategic point of view the company needs to develop internal resources and have full control of how those capabilities are nurtured and deployed. As business owners, we need to retain control over how the system’s tools interact with each other and utilize them for optimal results.
For digital sectors, in my opinion, Product and Marketing are clear examples of blocks that should be internalized if a company is to succeed. If a company fully outsources the decisions related to what to build for its users, how to build it, and how to communicate to them, then they risk running away from the mission and challenge of truly understanding and partnering with their users. This is the mistake several traditional businesses trying to go digital often make, which almost always results in a half baked and unsuccessful endeavor.
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LB: What’s your biggest challenge at the moment?
LP: When it comes to Marketing, most digital players’ challenge is to clearly identify users across different platforms and channels. Modern users have touchpoints on many platforms and channels, sometimes with a mix of online and offline interactions. For an effective marketing strategy, companies need to identify the same users in different places and operate different channels in a coordinated way rather than in silos. This is especially important for efficient retargeting activities and progressively shifting user communication from performance marketing channels to more cost-effective channels (e.g. CRM).
With (very much legitimate) growing concerns about consumer data privacy and related measures taken by some key stakeholders in the advertising ecosystem (e.g. Apple’s discontinuing the IDFA as an identifier), challenges for publishers and advertisers alike on this front are going to become even more severe, putting at risk a good chunk of the technological advances made in digital marketing in the past years.
This is where Branch has been critical in equipping our team with the right foundation to build successful marketing campaigns. With Branch, our team has the ability to stitch the non-linear paths of our consumers and bring cohesion to our campaigns while ensuring industry standards and changes are taken care of.
LB: What marketing KPIs should CEOs always look at?
LP: Unfortunately there is no right or wrong answer here. Great CEOs are great because they are able to focus on the 3-4 Marketing metrics that are most important at any point in time. These change drastically depending on:
At the same time, the health of Marketing efforts can always be tied back to 3 main dimensions, for which monitoring the right metrics is key:
Example 1: Key focus = User acquisition = Acquiring quality users at scale
Example 2:Key focus = Monetization = Hit revenue targets minimizing cost
LB: Is there any strategic project you’re working on to be better prepared once the economy opens up?
LP: We are constantly working to create more value for small business owners and help them go digital to run their businesses more effectively. Over the next few months, we will release several exciting features that will deepen our user engagement and support them across different touchpoints in daily life. Stay tuned for specifics!