We have been listening to the word ‘Startup’ more often these days, haven’t we? Well, what’s a start-up? A start-up is nothing more than starting a company on your own, being an entrepreneur and taking risks. Some people might get the idea “two foreign guys in a garage”, just like the most success stories out there. But then we also have our local experts, who have excelled starting their own business.
“Getting a startup going on is very risky. At times you get emotionally involved” said Manoj Ranaweera, who has founded many startups, such as Techcelerate in UK and was down in Sri Lanka when this forum took place. He said, having an MBA gives you overconfidence and that is what happened to him when he was struggling to get up on his own.
“It is a myth that all the businesses from Silicon Valley will take over the world. In UK, it is harder than San Francisco, and in Sri Lanka, it is much harder to start a start-up and keep going.” – Manoj
And then we also had Shakya Lahiru Pathmalal, who is the Founder and CEO of takas.lk. To inspire the gathering, Shakya shared some tips he followed. “If you can’t connect with people, if you don’t know what your investors are interested in, you are doing it wrong. You need to really brush up on the story before pitching.” He also suggested that you pitch to your family before you pitch to your investors, so that you can think through your business model according to their feedback.
“Believe in what you do while being honest. Investment doesn’t come only in the form of Rupees, but you make lifelong friends as well” Lahiru concluded with that note.
Jeevan Gnanam was next up to present his speech. Being an Angel Investor, Director at SAKS and SLASSCOM which is the leading IT body in the country and CEO of Orion City as well as St. Antony’s Industries Group. Orion City was started because there was a lack of proper IT ecosystem in Sri Lanka. ‘Lankan Angel Network funds and inspires start-ups. Having created that, it is great to see that Startup ecosystem is growing in SL’, said Jeevan.
“Don’t be afraid to fail, but get used to it and get up, quick.” a tip by Jeevan.
Once the main speakers were done with their presentations, we moved on to a Panel Discussion where the speakers touched on some delicate matters which were raised by the audience. “I suppose I have a very expensive taste. Essentially this gave me two options, a calculated decision was taken into consideration which led me to create takas.lk” – Lahiru.
“Whether we like it or not, our parents make decisions for us for our betterment. We need more people here in Sri Lanka to take chances at a very young age. This is the lesson I have learnt from Manchester, UK” – Manoj.
“Do more, with less. We have at least 5-6 new competition every year. Ecosystem is lacking mentorship, people giving time rather than money is more valuable these days” – Jeevan.
The first panel discussion was followed by another panel discussion consisting of Ruwindhu Peiris, Anushka Wijesinha, Fayaz Hudah and Deshal De Mel. Manoj moderated the session. Issues were raised and addressed. For instance, PayPal issue. “I agree, there are things to be done from government’s end as well, such as PayPal. It is important that Government make these things feasible. Government has the role of creating the ecosystem” – Deshal.
Time was running out and a cocktail session was awaiting all of us. The crowd dispersed after having some refreshments while networking and enhancing their understanding about proper mechanism of starting a start-up.