Home Authors Posts by W.G.T. Fernando
Ruwindhu Peiris, Managing Director of Stax, Rafi Musher, CEO of Stax, and Dr. Kumudhu Gunasekera, Director of Stax share insights on the Sri Lankan market
US based global strategy consulting firm shares knowledge on local opportunities
This year Stax, a global strategy consulting firm, headquartered in Boston, USA is celebrating its 10th year of operations in Sri Lanka.
Stax’s CEO Rafi Musher, together with its Managing Director Ruwindhu Peiris and Director Dr. Kumudu Gunasekera, discussed Stax’s history in Sri Lanka, the investment outlook for Sri Lanka and the Asian region as a whole, and the importance of positioning one’s business for emerging investment opportunities.
According to Rafi Musher, Stax provides data-driven and actionable insights to help global companies drive growth. With a 20 year track record of providing clients with strategic advice on profit improvement and M&A, Stax has become a formidable force in the strategy consulting space, competing directly with the big three global consulting firms (Boston Consulting Group, Bain, and McKinsey) and, boasting an impressive list of clients that includes 14 of the top 20 private equity firms and 27 fortune 500 companies.
“Global companies hire us to help drive growth because we provide actionable insights. Stax brings best practices on growth and profit improvement and we are in your backyard,” Musher said.
Rafi Musher, CEO of Stax
Musher explained how the caliber of people and promise of untapped resources drove him to establish Stax Colombo back in 2005.
“The cross country team structure enables a 24 hour cycle with fully integrated teams, which uniquely positions us to bring far more content to clients. The Colombo office is not a KPO; the emphasis has always been on value arbitrage and not cost arbitrage. The good thing is that this sharing of knowledge and expertise goes in both directions. Our Sri Lanka office can provide great content and insights to the US teams about a variety of industries, regions, and by using sophisticated research and analytic techniques. And the US teams can similarly provide our Sri Lanka office and Southeast Asian clients’ expertise on industry trends, best practices and how to identify profit opportunities. I personally work with colleagues in Colombo as I would in Boston or Chicago.”
We believe that multi-generation family businesses and increased private equity investment in the region will contribute to growth further. Family businesses with additional generations in the office are expanding their areas of interest. Private equity firms around the world are looking to capitalise on the economic growth and investment opportunities in the region, with the average Asia-focused funds size growing steadily over the last few years to reach $422M in 2014 (compared to a low of $197M in 2009). Additionally, dry powder, which refers to private equity funds available for investment, currently stands at $129B, indicating opportunities for corporations and growing family run businesses to take advantage of this significant investment pool to leverage for growth.
“Knowing where you can win now, where you can win later and what to avoid entirely, creates substantive value. Whether you are an executive or investor. This is the reason large and middle sized company executive teams call on Stax, and why major private equity firms call on Stax.”
Echoing the CEO’s statements, Dr. Kumudu Gunasekera, discussed the importance of positioning one’s firm for attracting investment.
Many companies perceive lack of funds as an impediment to growth and often look to raise funds through either debt financing or an IPO. However, this might not be the best option for a firm at a given time. It is important for a business to evaluate where its current opportunities lie, and to then assess which funding options can best grow the business, Dr. Gunasekera said.
He also stressed the importance of exploring other avenues of funding such as private equity investment rather than immediately listing a firm on the CSE. The influx of smart capital will allow a well-established company listing that will garner a higher valuation. Having a mature, well-positioned listing in the CSE is important for the company as well as the CSE.
Dr. Kumudhu Gunasekera, Director of Stax
“There is a misconception that all capital is equal,” Dr. Gunasekera continued. Stax’s goal for clients is to attract smart capital which not only brings in funding, but also provides industry expertise, geographic reach, access to wider supply and sales network, and drive toward exit at a higher valuation.
“Investors want to put money into companies that have a strong strategic road map and vision. Stax can help position your firm as an attractive investment opportunity for future investors by helping you understand and prioritize a strategic vision,” Dr. Gunasekera said.
He also discussed how many companies with strong growth potential often fail to capitalise on opportunities as they are reluctant to trade equity. Trading equity for smart capital can position a firm for higher growth and a higher valuation in the longer term. Identifying and attracting smart capital is vital, given the large amounts of dry powder in the market, he added.
Ruwindhu Peiris discussed what this meant in the corporate context.
With significant untapped opportunities in the region, there are a number of strategies local companies can adopt to achieve substantially more growth in short order. Not all growth has to come from funding; sometimes the opportunities lie internally, and part of Stax’s approach is to help clients assess opportunities within the firm, and recommend operational improvements that can lift the margins and bottom line, Mr. Peiris said. This profit improvement creates extra capital to deploy for additional opportunities, accelerating value creation.
In any field Stax can help a business to:
- Identify most attractive adjacent and new market opportunities
- Help clients create solutions and services that align with current and emerging customer needs and market trends
- Use analytics to optimise operations and improve incremental profit
“High growth industries in the region like Tourism, Healthcare and Retail are abundantly rich in untapped data assets that hold insights to accelerate growth and optimize spend. Stax solutions such as “High-Yield Segment Targeting”, “Media Spend Optimisation” and “Revenue Maximising Pricing” have helped global companies unlock actionable insights from their data assets and deliver tangible results in under six months“
Peiris went on to describe specific areas of opportunities in each of these high growth industries.
Millennials (those born after 1980) are entering their peak earning years and currently account for around one-third of all business travel expenses. In the next 5-10 years they will provide the majority of spending for travel and leisure. Being tech-savvy, they rely heavily on online information sources and are sophisticated travelers who carefully plan their trips. With “High-Yield Segment Targeting” companies in the leisure sector can engage with potential guests online at different stages of their travel with the winning messaging to reach the right audience at the right time.
Retail spend in the region is also on an accelerated growth path, with the emergence of Asia’s middle class. Stax’s work with global retailers has shown that most retailers tend to overprice, as well as under-price several items within their key product categories—essentially leaving millions of dollars on the table. There is a great opportunity for retailers in the region to leapfrog on strategies already tried and tested in the West in optimising the thin margins in this industry by using data analytics from “test and learn” platforms to tweak most effective promotions and loyalty plans.
TweetupSL 5 (Pic Credits @nHiRanZ)
The most anticipated event of the Sri Lankan Twittersphere, #TweetupSL is around the corner, just few more days to go! Keeping the tradition of annual events, TweetupSL 5 will be held on 20th of December 2014 at Orion City Car Park Premises. This time, the Principal Sponsor would be Mobitel Sri Lanka and they have more than Tshirts to give to the tweeps during the event! A grand carnival atmosphere is planned for the tweeps to get engaged in interactive activities with other tweeps.
So, what is TweetupSL? TweetupSL is the annual gathering of the Twitter users of Sri Lanka, where tweeps meet in person. This is an event that allows tweeps to take forward the networking that was limited to keyboards in previous instances. Tweeps meet in person, some of them meet each other for the first time and for some, it is one of their regular meetups with their Twitter friends.
TweetupSL is not limited to networking, it also allows Twitter users to have fun in a carnival atmosphere. Many games and activities are planned for the day, where tweeps can take part in these activities as a group or individually.
Another interesting aspect of TweetupSL is the voting and prizes! With the election fever hitting the town, Twitter community also has its own election allowing tweeps to vote for their favourite tweeps under 13 categories, which are highly unique to Twitter behaviors. Some of the unique awards are hashtagaholic, instagramaholic, Twitter news breaker of the year and Twitterholic. Most interestingly, TweetupSL voting also include crowning Mr. Tweep and Ms. Tweep, which are considered to be the most highlighted segments of the event.
So, interested in TweetupSL? J You need to get yourself registered to attend TweepupSL 5. It is a must for you to have a Twitter account to attend TweetupSL 5 and also your account needs to be at least one month old. If you qualify in these criteria, log into www.TweetupSL.org to get yourself registered.
TweetupSL also focuses on ‘social good’ while allowing Tweeps to network and have fun. All the tweeps attending the event have to purchase a coupon worth of Rs. 200/=. The proceedings will be allocated to serve the community in need, in due course. Therefore, TweetupSL is not only about fun, but also making a positive impact on the society to spread the message of love and harmony.
Want to know about past TweetupSL events? Check out our TweetupSL coverage:
Video captured from TweetupSL 4
IFS announced its partnership with the University of Moratuwa to establish an IFS Endowed Chair for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Moratuwa, at a press briefing held in Colombo. An agreement establishing this was signed between IFS and the University of Moratuwa in the presence of dignitaries and members of the media.
The partnership marks a milestone in the industry-academia collaboration in the country and will strengthen the research capability across all Faculties of the university and foster a culture of creative thinking, innovation and entrepreneurship amongst both its teaching faculty and students alike. Under the partnership, IFS will grant 18 million Rupees over a period of 3 years to establish a position of an IFS Endowed Professor/Senior Fellow for innovation and entrepreneurship at the University of Moratuwa.
Head Table, from L – R:* Mr. A. L. J. Sadique – Registrar,
University of Moratuwa; Prof. Rahula Attalage – Deputy Vice Chancellor,
University of Moratuwa; Prof. Ranjith Senaratne – Vice Chairman, University
Grants Commission; Prof. Ananda Jayawardane – Vice Chancellor, University
of Moratuwa; Mr. Alastair Sorbie – President & CEO, IFS Group; Mr. Ranil
Rajapakse – Vice President/COO, IFS World Operations, Sri Lanka; Mr.
Jayantha De Silva – President & CEO, IFS Sales & Consulting, Sri Lanka and
Mr. Thomas Sald – Snr. Vice President/Head of R&D, IFS World Operations
IFS recognises that a strong collaboration between industry and academia is necessary to significantly enhance the innovation entrepreneurship culture of the country. Creative thinking and an innovative mind-set is imperative for propelling economic growth and technological advancement in emerging economies such as Sri Lanka. Consequently, nurturing and building human capital, thereby creating an enabling environment, is a key driver towards achieving this.
Prof. Ananda Jayawardane and Alastaire Sorbie exchanging the agreement, on behalf of the University of Moratuwa and IFS respectively
University of Moratuwa (UoM) is also mindful of the impact of creating an innovative and entrepreneurial culture within the university, in view of adding value and wealth creation towards the country’s economic growth. The university’s vision is to be “the most globally recognized knowledge enterprise in Asia”, hence the importance of transforming UoM in to a world class university.
“We are a knowledge based company and we recognize the importance of developing intellectual infrastructure and giving it the freedom to thrive. We’re excited about partnering with the University of Moratuwa – one of the premier universities in the country – and to be a part of establishing the next generation of Sri Lanka’s creative thinkers, game-changers, entrepreneurial minds, and the workforce for the future,” said Ranil Rajapakse, Vice President/Chief Operating Officer of IFS World Operations in Sri Lanka, reaffirming the company’s commitment towards strengthening its long standing relationship with the University of Moratuwa.
The Vice Chancellor of The University of Moratuwa, Prof. Ananda Jayawardane, underscored the significance of this milestone in industry-academia collaboration. Said Prof. Ananda Jayawardane: “The University of Moratuwa, an internationally recognized seat of learning and research, recognizes that nurturing activities related to research & innovation, knowledge creation, technology transfer and invention have positive ripple effects which extends beyond the parameters of academia. The concept of an Endowed Professor/Senior Fellow at the university has been proposed to complement and amplify the efforts of the university and foster a culture of innovation while reinforcing its position as the premier technological university in Sri Lanka.”
Alastair Sorbie, President and CEO of the IFS group, emphasized that a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship benefits both the industry and the nation and noted the need for industry and academia to work closely towards developing a conducive environment. “Technology is never static and innovation cannot exist in isolation. There is always a dynamic cycle of engagement, improved understanding and continuously evolving knowledge-sharing between both the industry and the academia. It is important to foster creativity and industry-academia partnerships towards future advancement, both in the business world and academia,” highlighted Sorbie.
“Over the years, IFS has a tradition of collaborating with tertiary education institutions, sharing our expertise, providing industry opportunities and building rewarding partnerships through mutual exploration and learning. We are confident that this program will assist in augmenting the talents of the students and pave the way for innovative research initiatives,” said Jayantha De Silva, President & CEO, IFS Sales & Consulting, Sri Lanka.
This partnership is poised to act as a catalyst towards fostering new innovations and commercialization, establishing start-ups, enhancing creative and innovative thinking in the future workforce and bridging the gap between industry and academia. It is also anticipated to enhance the nation’s academic competitiveness on a global platform.
The mobile revolution has reached Sri Lanka. Developed for Android and available on Google Play, Mogo Reader offers categorized, localized news. Mogo Reader’s creators are banking on its potential to make a change to citizens in the country to get access to the latest news with just a single swipe.
Mogo Reader was built in the Google Cloud using Android. Vimukthi Liyanage, Co-Founder and CEO of Mogo Reader, is a trained developer who has used his knowledge and resources to capitalize on the mobile revolution. Vimukthi and his partner Shameera have secured impressive venture capital funding to help realize their vision.
Vimukthi and Shameera, co-founders of Mogo Reader
There’s no question that there’s a real demand for Mogo Reader. 500 users have already signed up in the short time the app has been available. As entrepreneurs, Vimukthi, his partner and their financial backers know it’s vital to start promoting a service and talking to users from day one. The first users of Mogo Reader are providing vital feedback to shape the app, realize its potential and help secure future pan-Asian success. As Vimukthi says, “The next step is a complete launch, in Sri Lanka first. Then, we’re planning a massive roll-out in different Asian countries.”
Mogo Reader has become a Global finalist in the Google Business Groups stories contest out of 317 participants from around the world. However, your precious voting on the video could make this venture the global winners and thus help bring Sri Lanka to the forefront of the global IT industry.
To vote for Mogo Reader
1. Click on the Youtube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDIR3nAdZtM
2. LIKE the video
3. SHARE as much as possible
The deadline for public voting: December 5, 2014, 11:59 PM GMT
Official Website: http://mogosrilanka.com
Google GBG Success Stories Website: https://www.google.com/landing/gbg/finalists
Mogo Reader Webpage: http://mogosrilanka.com/mogo-reader/
Download Mogo Reader: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=mogosolutions.mogoreader
Information technology (IT) is one of the most emerging industries both locally and internationally. Sri Lanka is reputed for producing high numbers of experts in this domain and consists of many IT companies with international recognition for their high quality products and services.
Employees with expertise IT knowledge, ambitious and adaptive personality are the greatest asset of the IT industry. Their strength and dedication is the key for all the success achieved by local IT industry worldwide. Therefore it’s not a secret that all the employers in IT industry seek for recruiting the most suitable employees for their companies.
University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC) is renowned for building both academic knowledge and good personalities of its students in order to produce quality graduates to the society. Therefore UCSC undergraduates have strengthened with up-to date domain knowledge and skills which make them potential employees with enthusiasm and dedication to prosper in their future careers.
“Career Fair 2014” is organized by UCSC for the second consecutive year and will be staged on 30th October 2014 from 9.00am onwards at UCSC premises. It is an opportunity for 4th year undergraduates to show-case their talents to the well-known companies in the IT industry with the intention of exploring inspiring careers.
This is a great opportunity for IT industry to access a large pool of candidates who have expertise in the exact fields which the companies are seeking for recruitment. It’s really great that many of the leading IT companies in Sri Lanka have already identified the potential of UCSC students and joined hands with us.
For more details:
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ucsccf
zMessenger, Sri Lanka’s largest mobile marketing solutions provider will bring together top brand leaders from FMCG, hospitality, banking and financial services to the Island’s first roundtable on mobile marketing scheduled for Thursday, 30th October, 2014
The event titled Embracing Mobile Mind Shift – Mobile Moments are the Frontline of Customer Experience will look at the impact of rapidly increasing mobile connectivity on customer expectations.
“Mobile phones are proving to be an effective and affordable marketing channel and in the face of this mobile boom, customers are in the midst of a total mind shift. Their expectations have changed. Whilst they have lost interest in a marketing message, they now demand utility and they expect it now. We thought its timely to focus on how brand leaders across different industries understand this shift and respond to it by creating mobile moments that would transform customer experience and supply them with mobile utility,” Jayomi Lokuliyana, Co-Founder and CEO of zMessenger said.
The roundtable will see expert panelists Siddharth Banerjee, Country Marketing Director – Unilever Sri Lanka, Tharanga Gunasekera, Head of Marketing and Communications – HSBC Sri Lanka, Mangala Wickramasinghe, Head of e-Banking Services – HNB and Co-Founder of the Ministry of Crab and Kaema Sutra restaurants, Dharshan Munidasa addressing the gathering on diverse topics spanning from customer engagement to delivery of financial services through mobile phones and the power of mobile context to mobile services in the hospitality sector.
The mobile marketing roundtable will also highlight and profile various ground-breaking mobile marketing efforts of ‘new-age’ corporate such as Unilever Sri Lanka, a driver of effective marketing.
zMessenger is an award winning integrated mobile media company that offers a wide range of solutions from planning, creating and execution of effective marketing campaigns, branded communication applications and content distribution strategies.
zMessenger that first introduced SMS based applications to local media stations also enjoy a leading position in the overall ‘new media’ marketing space for digital. It is also the only mobile marketing services solution provider in Sri Lanka.
The company recently launched Bigbon, a mobile app that allows customers to pick and choose the best deals offered by credit cards, loyalty cards and favorite retailers and restaurants. Bigbon which is completely customizable allows users to explore the deals at a specific location by turning on the “Augmented Reality” feature which displays a list of deals in close proximity to the user. The app also generates a report offering merchants an insight into customer preferences.
“With the journey we’ve come so far, it’s only benefitting for zMessenger to hold the country’s first ever Mobile Marketing Roundtable. We believe that this endevour will help broaden our horizons and consolidate our position in the Island,” Lokuliyana said.
Event is invite only but will be live streamed via MMRColombo.
Representing Sri Lanka at the Spikes Asia Festival, Mindshare team members Seninda Bandara and Supun Hettiarachchi did the country proud when they clinched the Bronze medal for ‘Young Spikes in Media’ recently.
The Spikes Asia Festival was held in Singapore, where Seninda and Supun competed amongst agencies in the APAC region. The winning campaign by Seninda and Supun addressed methods of improving tourism opportunities for Singapore, with the objectives of enhancing visits and driving advocacy. The duo was given three days to work on the project and five minutes to present.
Having identified the need gap for destination information as well as directions and travel options – with ‘map’ and ‘things to do’ being critical searches during pre- and post-arrival – they created a map to fill this gap and achieve the campaign objectives. Having gathered information and insight, they proposed a campaign of a mobile app based on a map, titled the ‘Orchid Map’. This tied-in seamlessly with Singapore tourism, with the Orchid being the country’s national flower.
The Orchid Map symbolised the diversity of the country in four areas – entertainment, attractions, dining and shopping – and comprised a simple, real-time, integrated and interactive multi-platform to explore everything in Singapore.
Commenting on his experience, Supun said: “Spikes Asia was an amazing experience not only because of our victory, but also the exposure I received from many industry experts as well as the great work done by so many agencies regionally. The Young Spikes competition is a great opportunity for young professionals in the industry to enhance their skills to a highly competitive level. I am grateful to the Mindshare & GroupM family for giving me the opportunity to make the country so proud.”
Seninda, also expressing his gratitude to GroupM commented: “Winning at Young Spikes was a great experience for me and absolutely a milestone in my advertising career. The Spikes Asia Festival of creativity was an amazing festival with opportunities for knowledge sharing, networking, fun. I am proud to have represented our country at a global event of this scale and I am thankful to the Mindshare & GroupM family for the opportunity and encouragement.”
Seninda and Supun
The Young Spikes Media Competition, which took place from 23 to 26 September comprised the presentation of the brief, the two-day competition period, the deadline and the judging process and saw the brightest young minds of the region competing for top honours.
The Young Spikes Competitions provide Asia Pacific’s next generation of creative talent the opportunity to showcase their talent. Mindshare’s Associate Director – Invention, Seninda and Executive, Supun were selected to represent Sri Lanka at the Spikes Asia Festival after they excelled at the competition held among the local advertising industry.
The challenging competition here saw teams of creative minds develop an innovative and viable media strategy for a charity or non-profit organization in just two days. The competition, which is a platform for young talent to showcase business insight and skills, was judged by a panel of top media experts.
Availing the experiences of last five years, IEEE Student branch of University of Moratuwa is in the frontier to launch IEEEXtreme 8.0 on 18th October starting at 05:30am in local time parallel to the global event, at the university premises
IEEEXtreme”, worldwide, online coding competition running for 24 hour time span, is organized by the IEEE, “Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers” and co-hosted locally by IEEE Student Branches in more than 80 countries globally. University of Moratuwa, the most consistent university of the competition so far is ready to take the arena again with 103 teams – holding the record for the highest number of teams from a single university, again!
The forefront technical institute maintains an exceptional record of achievements in IEEEXtreme including the global championship in Xtreme 3.0, runners-up in Xtreme 5.0 and third place in Xtreme 6.0. Apart from that, in each year university of Moratuwa is accountable for producing the highest number of teams within top 100 rankings from a single university.
Highlighting all those achievements, a session for introducing IEEEXtreme 8.0 and recognizing best performed teams of IEEEXtreme 7.0 will be held on 16th October at the Department of Electronic and Telecommunications, University of Moratuwa.
“Atrenta”, the creator of famous Predictive Analysis software platform “SPYGLASS”, joins hands this time with IEEE Student Branch of University of Moratuwa as the Platinum sponsor for IEEEXtreme 8.0 and national domain registry, “LK Domain” provides another generous sponsorship to make this massive event a success.
This meetup group aims to bring together people from all industries, university academics, students who are interested in dealing with large amounts of data, offering interesting talks, hands-on advice and a forum for exchange and networking. Topics include (but are not limited to);
Big Data, Data Mining, Data Visualization, Cloud Computing with Big Data , Distributed Computing with Big Data, Machine Learning, Information Retrieval, Tools/Frameworks such as Apache Hadoop, Apache Mahout, NoSQL storage & search technologies, Predictive Analysis.
Going a step further, this group also aims to improve the research work done in this area by connecting university students with industrial professionals and academics on various big data related research topics. This will also provide a platform for students to present their ideas to a larger crowd in order to get feedback and funding opportunities for their work.
RSVP via Meetup page here
Explore ’14, the annual IT Day of St. Peter’s College, Colombo 04, organized by the Peterite ICT Team, was successfully held on the 29th of September 2014. With the aim of harnessing the ICT talents and skills and spread the benefits of technology to the entire society, Explore ’14 kicked off at 9.30a.m at the College Main Hall and went on till 5.30p.m. Over a hundred and fifty participants attended the event, with students from all over the island.
Prof. Sanath Jayasena, chief guest at Explore’14
Prof. Sanath Jayasena was the chief guest for the day. Prof. Sanath Jayasena has been working in the Department of Computer Science &
Engineering, in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Moratuwa for about 20 years. His research interests include parallel and high-performance computing, machine learning and local language computing.
There were interesting lectures conducted by well experienced professionals in the fields of:
Mechatronics – Dr. Dilum Bandara. He is a senior lecturer from the Dept. of Computer Science & Engineering, University of Moratuwa. His
teaching and research interests are in the areas of Cloud computing, Computer Networks, Wireless Sensor Networks, Computer Architecture,
Embedded Systems, and Network Security.Game Design/Development – Uditha Bandara. Specializes in Microsoft development for Windows Phone, Xbox 360 and PC. He is South East
Asia’s First XNA/DirectX MVP (Most Valuable Professional). He had delivered sessions at various events and conferences in Malaysia, Hong
Kong,Singapore, Sri Lanka and IndiaCareer Guidance – Ms Chathura Sooriyaarchchi
Mobile App Development – Ms Neera JayamohanThere were also bands and soloists from the school itself who performed at the event.
The event ended on a high note with Royal College being the winners of both the Inter-School Quiz Competition and the Hackathon. Ananda
College emerged runners-up in the Inter-School Quiz Competition and the Hackathon.
Peterite ICT Team for Explore’14
Article submitted by Vathsala Karunanayake.
Photographs By Lakshan Bhanuka. Group photo by Tharusha Pathmaperuma.
Prev123...4Next Page 2 of 4