“The harder you work the luckier you get” is a mantra which Michelle Elizabeth Surjaputra believes in. Whether in work or sports the young successful lady is driven with passion to achieve the best results. Michelle Surjaputra was born on November 15th 1988 to a very entreprenueal family. Her father Andreas Surjaputra and mother Hartati Surjaputra started their manufacturing empire upon graduating from university. Following in her parents’ footsteps, after spending 16 years in the United States of America, Michelle moved back to her home country with dreams of growing Indonesia’s economy. At the age of 22, Michelle became the founder and CEO of PT. Michelindo Food International and acquired the master franchise for BonChon Chicken in Indonesia. After three years starting and growing her restaurant empire, Michelle is venturing in the fashion industry by acquiring the Yosep Sinudarsono brand.
Michelle Surjaputra not only graduated Magna Cum Laude from NYU Stern School of Business, but she also juggled her part time jobs in Creative Media Marketing, Schnall Advisory, AXA Advisors, Bank Indonesia, and UBS Investment Banking. “After four years of working in NYC at prestigious firms, I wanted to transfer my knowledge in my home country,” shares the young lady. Right after she landed in Indonesia, she did her market research and created a 50-page business plan for BonChon Chicken. Amazed by her plan, BonChon gave Michelle the master franchisee and flew her to USA to train at BonChon’s kitchen.
“It was hard. I’ve spent my life behind computers not behind fryers. However, I did my best, learned a lot, and was able to transfer the knowledge to my staff in Indonesia,” says Michelle. After a month of training at BonChon, Michelle hired her staff in Indonesia. She also developed the SOP, manuals, systems, and rules and regulations to start BonChon in Indonesia. Now after 2 years, Michelle developed the franchise manual, systems, and legal documents for her franchise expansion.
Because of Michelle’s persistence and determination, BonChon is now a well-recognized brand in Indonesia. In less than three years they have over 21 outlets in Jakarta, Bali, Surabaya, Bandung and Banjarmasin. With the help of over 350 employees, Michelle focuses on keeping high standards on quality, cleanliness, and service. In mid-2014, BonChon Indonesia had high dreams of being in all the Indonesian provinces and opened its franchise system. Because of BonChon’s high success, it has received over 300 applications in a month. In 2014, it had signed in Banjarmasin, Bandung, Puri, Semarang, and Yogyakarta. BonChon’s success will keep on shining because of its determination.
BonChon opened its first franchise outlet on July 12, 2014 in Bandung and instantly became a hit. There was a 20-people queue before the store opened in the morning and the queue continued throughout the day. “We’re overwhelmed with BonChon’s success in Bandung. We’ve never seen a line this
long in Bandung, especially during the first week of opening. We consider ourselves very lucky to be chosen as partners,” notes Mia Jonas, BonChon’s Bandung Franchisee. Not only was the demand successful, but also the quality service and cleanliness exceeded BonChon’s standards.
Michelle’s success didn’t come without her struggle. From learning how to cook BonChon to learning how to construct/fit out a restaurant, Michelle’s determination for success proves that “if there’s a will there’s a way.” “It feels like we’re running in a dark room and looking for doors. Working in the F&B industry is beyond logic. We have to learn the rules and that takes experience,” she describes. Michelle donates her success to her willingness to learn, her perseverance, and her ability to keep her employees synergize.
“As a young leader in a very conservative hierarchical country, it’s extremely difficult to earn respect from everyone, including your employees,” Michelle says. However, because of her hard work and proven success it did not take long for her to gain respect. She believes in recruiting ambitious and loyal individuals and teaching them skills. “My company is able to grow so fast because we work as a team. We’re more than workers, we’re a family. We teach each other to become successful,” added Michelle.
Michelle’s success did not come unrecognized. She has been named 40 under 40 by Prestige Magazine two years in a row (2012, 2013), named Young Kartini by Jawa Pos, received 2nd place in the YWN Marketeers Competition, and nominee of Young Women Award by Her World Indonesia just to name a few. Michelle believes in teamwork and enjoys strategic planning with her team members. Even though Michelle is now in control on a macro level, she is very detailed oriented and goes down to the field. Because she was the only person trained by the BonChon Headquarter in NYC, Michelle is well aware of the all the methods. If you go to a BonChon store you might catch her in the kitchen testing her staff.
In the future, Michelle’s dream is to continue her entrepreneurship in other industries as well as give back to the community. She is currently venturing into fashion with her venture with designer, Yosep Sinudarsono, and works with him to make his dreams come true. “My dream is to bring local Indonesian talent overseas. I’m so proud to be an Indonesian and there is so much talent here.” They will be launching his brand in late 2015 with plans to sell their products internationally. In view of the future Michelle is always up to the challenge of finding opportunities and capitalizing on them.
“I’m extremely excited to be in the fashion industry. It’s been my dream since I was in middle school. Even though in college I focused in economics and finance, I still enjoyed volunteering in NY Fashion Week,” expresses Michelle. Because Michelle is able to teach and manage her employees, Michelle is able to delegate her tasks while looking for new opportunities in her empire.