Start up Island
By Enosh Praveen
‘I get knocked down, but I get up again’. Yes, if you guessed that right, that’s the opening line from the ‘90s hit Tubthumping by Chambawamba. That’s the exact song that plays in my mind, after listening to two remarkable stories confessed by two speakers at F’up Friday’s monthly meetup – a place for tech and startup founders to share their experiences through failures.
Imagine, shutting down a startup for almost 2 years, requested by the Government no less, after processing 5 million rupees worth of transactions and registering 200+ customers who placed their trust in you, OR walking into your three-decade-old family-owned business, only to realize that you’re treated as a stranger and having to earn their loyalty towards you – these are some of the lowest points in their journeys Dhanika Perera and Selyna Peiris had to go through, and they had no qualms sharing about them on the show.
Dhanika Perera, the founder of PayHere, a locally developed payment gateway, narrates a story of how his dreams were shattered almost overnight, and were left lost, clueless, and nowhere to turn to. Overwhelmed by emotions, he had an unbearable urge to share his feelings with someone. At first, he was empathized by his wife – who wouldn’t understand the depth of the scenario at the time, but consoled nonetheless – but soon turned to another industry veteran Dumindra Ratnayaka, who would eventually plant the initial seeds for him and PayHere to turn around this whole saga and go on to process more than “One billion rupees” just a few years later.
On a different frame altogether, Selyna Periris, Director of Selyn, found herself walking into her established, family-owned business. Armed with a handful of educational qualifications from the UK, she was convinced that the business needed a branding exercise, from the lack of being too traditional and not adorning a logo yet. She felt at the place immediately being able to sign up for a Facebook Page and other social media platforms and went ahead with an agency for a marketing campaign, and soon would lose LKR 1,000,000 in the process.
“Being a lawyer I failed to read the fine print, and my mother had to bail me out” she says smiling at her memory. Her mother, however, would soon prove her intuition again just after the lockdowns in March 2020, by nudging her to make fabric masks. But her mother would get shot down with “Amma, there›s no way Selyn can make masks,”until the penny dropped and Selyna realized what they were sitting on.
From making reusable face masks to funneling one billion rupees, this is just the tip of the iceberg that trailblazers like Dhanika and Selyna overcome. They not only conquer their mountains but also impact their communities in vastly empowering ways.
What seems like superpowers to build successful companies, is sometimes merely superhuman qualities of patience and unparalleled perseverance.
F’up Fridays is a monthly show hosted by Randhula de Silva and Enosh Praveen – where they bring new tech and startup personalities every month to narrate their mightiest failures, and the hosts get to drill them for invaluable insights and learnings.