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    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

    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

    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.


    Google Summer of Code is celebrating 10 years of successful operations world wide. What started off as a summer program, it has grown leaps and bounds to become one of the most intensely participated coding programs for students internationally.

    When talking about Google Summer of Code, no one can forget the immense contribution University of Moratuwa has made over the years. According to the statistics Google has put up in their website, University of Moratuwa is the most contributing Institute to GSoC program worldwide with the highest amount of accepted students each year and in the overall count as well. So it is very appropriate that, to mark this event, Computer Science and Engineering Faculty of University of Moratuwa organized a ceremony at the University premises.

    A very special delegation representing Google headed by Chris DiBona (Director of Social Impact and Open Source – Google Inc) came down to Sri Lanka with his team, including Stephanie Taylor (Program Manager – Google Inc), Mary Radomile (Program Manager – Google Inc) and Jana Levene (Emerging Market Development – Google APAC).

    During the ceremony Rohan Jayaweera, Country Consultant at Google shared his thoughts and views about GSoC. Sanjiva Weerawarana, one of the most respected Alumni members of UoM and one of the most reputed entrepreneurs in the country, participated in a panel discussion. Past GSoC-ers including Himeshi De Sila from the 2013 GSoC batch and some others previous participants gave away some tips to the future candidates who are about to get on board with their GSoC dream.

    The GSoC anniversary celebration was an absolute success. With the exposure given to the concept behind GSoC and its advantages, it is much expected that more participants will take part this year and bring glory to Sri Lanka.

    You can also check out our Photo Coverage of the event and our Live Blog. Our previous article about how Computer Science and Engineering Department of University of Moratuwa prepared for this event can be found here.


    Pyxle, the country’s award winning benchmark provider of software and Internet business solutions, celebrates a decade of great success and fast paced growth.

    Founded in 2003, with just two employees engaging in basic software development, the Company has grown within the space of a decade to become a globally recognized supplier of bespoke software and web application development services. Today, the Organization offers its services from multiple destinations together with a plethora of certifications and platform competencies.

    Oshada Senanayake, Director Operations welcoming the invitees.

    Oshada Senanayake, Director Operations welcoming the invitees.

    Pyxle has now become a preferred choice as a strategic software partner for Fortune100 companies and numerous Sri Lankan conglomerates; with a total experience of handling more than 1000 projects for over 400 clients. The Company is recognized as an industry leader focused on products and services that work on or use the internet, cloud or browser based architecture. It has also received accolades for engaging in long-term relationships with its clientele; offering more specialized or bespoke software services than generic development.

    “Our key experience has been a decade of working on the Internet in terms of eCommerce, transactional software, web and SharePoint portals as well as online collaboration. We have seen and worked while the Internet and online collaboration has evolved from simple transactional interactions to a trillion dollar platform. We are strong believers and movers in cloud, online and total future coaction” said Presantha Jayamaha, Managing Director, Pyxle.

    From its humble beginnings, the Pyxle Team is now a strong team of 80 industry experts. “We believe in sustainable growth; which is actually against the norms of the IT industry. I have personally seen too many IT companies balloon in size and then suddenly shut down when a project is done or they lose a few clients. A workforce is then shut out overnight. That is irresponsible business; we as business leaders have a responsibility towards society and our teams to be driven but also sensitive to those who follow our decisions.

    Pyxle can be triple in size if necessary; but we prefer to grow at a pace that is realistic and sustainable” added Mr. Jayamaha.

    Wellington Perera, DPE Director, Microsoft Sri Lanka speaking at the event.

    Wellington Perera, DPE Director, Microsoft Sri Lanka speaking at the event.

    The Company has invested heavily into training, development and strategic growth initiatives. For example, Pyxle’s SharePoint team includes two MVP’s (Microsoft Most Valuable Professional) out of possibly only three individuals recognized as MVP’s in Sri Lanka. “The objective of this focused growth is to bring the best value to our all our stakeholders; customers, employees, suppliers and shareholders”.

    The Company is also the recipient of local and international acclaim winning numerous industry specific awards. “As we look back on our success over the decade, we are extremely proud of the many achievements and milestones we have reached. It is also an ideal opportunity to formally acknowledge and thank the incredibly talented Pyxle Team, our clients and service providers” said Mr. Jayamaha.

    Pyxle’s vision, foresight and adaptability continue into the next decade as it begins to change the local IT landscape. In the pipeline is the launch of another state-of-the-art Development Center focused only on Microsoft applications and a public education drive on IT services.

    A partnership with a local university for dedicated internship, knowledge dissemination programs educating Sri Lankan organizations of the powerful advantages of online collaboration are future initiatives.

    The Company’s future roadmap continues through to 2017 and beyond, when it hopes to grow its team to over 400 personnel in development and customer service with Dedicated Development Centers in South America, Africa and China and with the aim of becoming the most recognized IT Services Company in Sri Lanka. According to Mr. Jayamaha “Our current growth phase is to create multiple time zone development centers so that we can offer a truly 24-hour service experience to a client in any time zone”.

    Live call using GoToMeeting with Roger Dilsner, Director, IdeaPoint Ltd. (a leading provider of state of the art enterprise, retail and technology solutions in Canada)

    Live call using GoToMeeting with Roger Dilsner, Director, IdeaPoint Ltd. (a leading provider of state of the art enterprise, retail and technology solutions in Canada)

    “We firmly believe that Pyxle will continue to evolve over the next 10 years. As a leading provider of software solutions seamlessly evolving with ever-changing technologies, our core philosophy of maintaining high standards of software and service originally set in 2003 remain enshrined” added said Mr. Jayamaha.