JAKARTA/SAN FRANCISCO -- Levana Sani left Jakarta nine years ago to study biochemistry at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles. Graduating in 2014, Levi -- as she prefers to be called -- was torn between pursuing a career in science by working on a Ph.D., or studying for an MBA with the idea of eventually returning home to start a business. It was Asia's burgeoning tech startup scene that cemented her decision.
"In my mind, there's always this idealistic picture and the realistic picture," Levi says, sitting in a bustling coworking space she shares with other local startups in South Jakarta, a business district of high-rise office buildings. "The idealistic picture is, I'm gonna be in the U.S., I'm gonna be a great scientist ... but then there's also, I wanna give back to [my] country."