This 35-Year-Old Turned a Local Indonesian Coffee Stall Into a Unicorn Startup — Today It Brings In $100 Million a Year

Edward Tirtanata, the CEO and co-founder of venture-backed unicorn coffee company Kopi Kenangan, has grown from a local Indonesian coffee stall in 2017 to an international coffee brand worth over $1 billion. With more than 800 locations across Southeast Asia, the company generated over $100 million in sales in 2023. Tirtanata’s passion for coffee began when he discovered the key business principle: “Buy low, sell high.” He learned to sell Pokémon cards and gaming bots to friends at school for a profit, which inspired him to become an entrepreneur.

Tirtanata’s father’s business faced financial setbacks during his freshman year in university, but he decided to speed through his five-year program and finished it in three. He returned to home Indonesia and became his father’s business partner. Despite facing financial difficulties with his family, Tirtanata went on to forge his own entrepreneurial path.

Before starting Kopi Kenangan, Tirtanata opened a tea shop chain called Lewis & Carroll in 2015 with locations across Indonesia. By the time he opened his fifth store, he realized that the tea shop wasn’t as profitable as he expected. He and his long-time friend James Prananto discovered that many big coffee and tea chains in Indonesia were too expensive for the local population.

The idea of Kopi Kenangan was born when Tirtanata and Prananto invested a total of $15,000 into their first grab-and-go location in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 2017. This model allowed them to invest that money into quality ingredients, focusing on a good, high-quality cup of coffee instead of focusing on the sofa or fast Wi-Fi. This decision helped Kopi Kenangan scale to over 200 locations and 10 cities within the first two years of operations.

Tirtanata said three major reasons have separated Kopi Kenangan from its competitors: the company’s grab-and-go model, it is a tech-enabled business, and it takes a hyperlocal approach. He realized that people have different tastes and preferences, so they shaped their strategy for global expansion by ensuring that the sweetness and robustness of the coffee really suits the market they are operating in.

During the Covid pandemic, Tirtanata and Prananto doubled down on their efforts to integrate technology into their business, which helped Kopi Kenangan more than triple its store count. As of April, the coffee chain has raised over $230 million in funding from investors across the globe. Today, Kopi Kenangan stores can be found in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.

Tirtanata plans to expand the company globally and hopes to list the business in the U.S. one day. He is excited about what the future holds for the company and believes it is just the beginning of its journey.

Read More @ CNBC

Suggested Reading