Written by – Dilshan at OmeBiz
Many inspiring personalities have come forward to create revolutionary organizations which hold strong brand names to this day. So far the spotlight for major companies founded and led by young minds was focused on that based over-seas, but in recent times, it has come to light that an increase of startups have been taking place in Sri Lanka led by young blood, which shows a sign that the youthful minds of Sri Lanka have taken up the challenge to get down to work and build and preserve their own branding in the corporate world.
We have focused, in no particular order, on a few of these young personalities who have taken the plunge into the life of an entrepreneur.
Zulfer Jiffry (CEO – PickMe)
Zulfer is a young personality who holds an impressive record for his work at wow.lk, a company in which Zulfer was a part of the founding team. Zulfer Jiffry was also the recipient of the ICTA Young IT Professional Award in May 2006, and FCCISL Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in April 2004. Jiffry, being a traveler, saw a market in Sri Lanka which needed urgent disrupting. Jiffry Zulfer set out a task to tackle the transport sector in Sri Lanka and provide a more convenient solution for transportation in the country.
Zulfer brought together a few of his friends and spent a few months working on developing a prototype that would be ready to present to potential investors. Once the prototype was ready Zulfer approached Ajit Gunawardena, a celebrated businessman, who, after only a brief presentation by Jiffry, became one of the initial investors (along with the John Keels Group and the Hirdaramani Group) of this prototype which is now known as PickMe.
Currently, a few months into it’s the 3rd year, PickMe stands out today as Sri Lanka’s most famous taxi-hailing app, making Zulfer’s quest a success.
Lahiru Pathmalal (CEO – Takas.lk)
Lahiru Pathmalal received his higher education in USA, initially starting with majoring in Economics and later on abandoning Economics to pursue his studies in Politics and Psychology. While he did not get much encouragement by his family for this decision, Lahiru ended up as one of Sri Lanka’s most successful young entrepreneurs. A primary motive for Lahiru to start Takas.lk was that given his educational background and work history he felt that no other company would hire him. Lahiru’s climb up the ladder to success is said to be a solo success story backed by the co-founders of Takas.lk, Dilendra and Murtaza.
Melissa Dharmadasa (Founder – Bakes by Bella)
Melissa Dharmadasa is definitely a personality with an impressive academic background, holding a degree in Bio-Medical Science. The trendy café, Bakes by Bella (BBB) came to be as Melissa couldn’t find a job that met her interest in her field of study. Therefore, Melissa moved to home-baked goods and, like most success stories, had a humble beginning where her rise to fame blossomed from a hobby at home. Melissa also takes a special place on the list by being the first person to promote a business of this nature using Instagram which offers her quite the recognition.
Rukshi Nethicumara (Founder/CEO – Butter Boutique)
The story of Rukshi Nethicumara began with her following the “Do What You Love” philosophy. According to her she loved baking at home and experimenting with various cooking styles, which she made a career out of and later, an organization which offers scrumptious treats. Acknowledging her culinary gift, she focused on baking varieties of other pastries. She also began traveling quite a lot which had a lasting impact on her cooking. Finally, and most importantly, Rukshi showcases an important lesson to all, that being; recognize your talents and put them to good use.
Bhanuka Harischandra (Founder/CEO – Surge Global)
Bhanuka is one of the most familiar names among the younger generations as he has built quite an impressive fan base over social media, being a content creator. “It’s the stories you tell” being Bhanuka’s motto he streamlined, in a short time span, Surge Lanka to the major company it is today: “Surge Global”. Bhanuka who comes from a family with a medical background holds a rebellious character by purposefully failing his G. C. E. Advanced Level Examinations so that he too didn’t have to follow suit with medicine. This great young personality, driven by his passion for video games and Pokémon, with limited support from his family, he claims that the appetite to learn and the risks taken certainly would be the key factors for anybody’s success. To this day Bhanuka manages to carry Surge Global to reach higher goals and to grow as a company.
Dulitha Wijewantha (Founder/CEO – Alakazam.ai)
Dulitha in known for his character as an IT enthusiast, with work experience as a Senior Software Engineer at WSO2. With his profound knowledge in Web Design, IoT, Enterprise Solution Software, he has gone on to build up his own company Alakazam.ai which specializes in Artificial Intelligence; their main product being a Smart AI tool to manage users’ Social Media platforms. In a time where Social Media and IT is taking over Sri Lankan culture, Dulitha had the analytical skill to capture this market opportunity.
Apart from his impressive academic background, which includes a BSc. in Software Engineering and Information Technology, Dulitha possesses an extroverted, enthusiastic and optimistic personality (apparent from his influential social media presence) which has helped him to develop a network of loyal colleagues and peers who support his vision of growth and development for the organization.
In conclusion, all these aspiring individuals would agree that the rise to success did not come to them overnight, but rather through numerous draw-backs and failures. If you too are a person who is willing to take a stand and compete for your place in society, find your passion and explore the untapped potential; be innovative and challenge the status quo.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to your ability to perceive in the face of any obstacle the world may put your way.
“Entrepreneurs are the only people who will work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week. And an Entrepreneur doesn’t leave the work to someone else. They work those 80 hours because they’re in control of their own success.” – Lori Greiner