12th July 2017: One of the most interesting discoveries post Disrupt Asia 2016 was the opportunities it afforded to the local start up community, industry veterans and aspiring entrepreneurs.
As an IT industry veteran who runs a successful startup that has roots in Silicon Valley, Mangala Karunaratne, Founder and CEO of Calcey Technologies explains how Disrupt Asia (DA16) contributed to the country’s startup ecosystem. He says, “DA brings everyone involved in the startup ecosystem together under one roof and provides a venue for knowledge and experience sharing.”
Explaining further, Karunaratne says, “This type of event make founders realize they are not alone and connects them with folks who have overcome similar challenges which is invaluable. The event also seeks to broaden the horizons of the local ecosystem, encouraging aspiring entrepreneurs and inspiring struggling ones.”
According to Karunaratne on a practical level the event is “One of the flagship events of the local startup ecosystem and an ideal platform for investors and potential customers of startup products to look for new opportunities. The atmosphere is friendly and enthusiastic. The event brings together a high quality network, especially for startups that show up with a focused game plan - they can get a lot of value from this event.”
A classic example how DA16 energised participants to become innovative change makers and create a working foundation for a viable company could be seen in Michael Moonesinghe’s initiative to start ‘Entrepreneur Hubs’, a national network of co-worker small business centres.
As CEO of Glover Daniels International, Moonesinghe attended Disrupt Asia conference last year. He says, “I attended the conference last year as an investor as I planned to become an Angel investor. However, speaking to a lot of the entrepreneurs I realised we lacked one of the key infrastructure requirements, i.e. low cost and flexible office space such as purpose designed ‘co-worker centres’ seen in major cities around the world.”
Elaborating on his entrepreneurial journey he says, “DA16 made me realise that the time for action is right here and now. If someone didn’t take the initiative Sri Lanka could lose the priceless opportunity to move forward.” Today, Moonesinghe’s team has opened three ‘Business Hubs’ in Kollupitiya, Nugegoda and Mount Lavinia, offering places to over 200 people, with more Hubs in the pipeline.”
Moonesinghe emphasises that participants can benefit immensely from attending the Disrupt Asia event because, “DA offers the fast expanding startup community an excellent platform for everyone involved in the ecosystem to come together to share ideas and initiatives. People can get some very useful information, tips and also to network amongst fellow entrepreneurs.”
Confirming DA as an ideal opportunity to network and garner brand exposure Miller Rajendran, Chief Operating Officer, SenzMate says, “We believe DA is the only exhibition on par with international standards which connects the Sri Lankan B2B market. DA led us to bigger networks.”
Rajendran whose company is focused on creating an Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine to Machine (M2M) revolution for enterprises immensely benefitted as an exhibitor at last year’s conference. He says, “DA helped us in two ways; it brought us new clients and introduced us to potential networks -exactly what an accelerating start-up needs.”
Elaborating on the conference’s reach he says, “Because of Disrupt Asia's high-end networking characteristics, last year we have met more than 50 individuals and nearly half of them were high-end potential clients for our product lines.”
The DA conference’s pivotal role in developing and nourishing the entrepreneurship ecosystem is also synonymous. Advising aspiring entrepreneurs to forge ahead, Moonesinghe says, “Don’t just follow the crowd and open yet another ‘coffee shop’. Be creative and try to find a solution to a real problem and embrace the challenge to disrupt the market - through being different and better.”
While talent and passion are key ingredients, Karunaratne reminds aspiring entrepreneurs attending the conference, “You have to put in the hard work and persevere through tough times. You need to be laser focused on results to make things happen. We need to become action and results oriented. Enthusiasm can only get you so far.”