Being a part of first ever Startup Weekend in Sri Lanka

I have to write about an interesting and much-needed event in Sri Lanka that is taking place right now in Jaffna!

I am here witnessing the igniting ideas of visionary young entrepreneurs from North and East of our country. I am pleased to see the enthusiasm among not only the youngsters but also among the judges, facilitators, mentors and organizers.

13 groups of over 70 budding entrepreneurs are pitching their ideas and concepts to mentors and judgers right now. Most the ventures are IT based initiatives. It’s truly inspiring to see the amount of innovation that Sri Lanka can take into the global arena. Unlike other industries tech ventures though being start-ups have the potential of reaching the global market very easily. IT and software is one of the industries that is highly influenced and boosted by the benefits of globalization. You can be from any part of the country possessing any level of academic qualification. If your idea is creative, unique and ground-breaking, the windows to the global tech market will be easily opened to you.

If you are wondering what is this event is all about:

Startup Weekend is a global phenomenon – 54 hours of fast and furious prototype development through to exploring potential markets and pitching. It’s an unparalleled opportunity to build lasting relationships with co-founders; mentors, and investors.

The real value comes from taking an idea from concept through to execution using Lean tactics and working under high pressure with the best startups.

At the event, the youngsters have to discuss about their ideas, dreams and problems with the Mentors in order to polish the pitch they are going to present. Later they will be pitching the ideas to the audience including the judgers.

At this event more than the phenomenon of winning, the motivation and inspiration is given more prominence which is very healthy in terms of Entrepreneurship. Here the young entrepreneurs’ way of thinking and doing things will get sharpened-up by the industry experts who have already initiated their own ventures and successfully achieving their goals. This is the best part that would like to appreciate. As an Entrepreneur I know that more than winning, living your dreams is important. Winning is subjective and it may vary from person to person. But reaching yours goals and being satisfied about what you are doing is important. That is what I feel as “success” for an Entrepreneur.

The event was powered by Google for Entrepreneurs and facilitated by Anurag Maloo, Regional Manager (South & Central Asia),Techstars, an organization that promotes tech entrepreneurship and budding entrepreneurs globally.

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The Judges

The judges are high-profile experts who can give the neutral and detailed feedback to the ideas and pitches whilst selecting the award-winning teams. The panel includes:

Mano Sekaram, Chairman of Slasscom Sri Lankaand Chief Executive Officer (CEO) & Co-Founder of 99X Technology

Sachindra Samararatne, Program Manager,Industry Development Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA)

The Speakers

Lahiru Pathmalal, Co Founder at Takas.lk, one of Sri Lanka’s most successful ‎entrepreneurs, having set up takas.lk, Sri Lanka’s biggest e-tailer

Arunesh Peter, Chief of Projects at Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA)

Chandika Jayasundara,CEO & Co-Founder of #‎cinergix, one of the passionate promoters of ‎startups in Sri Lanka

The Mentors

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The Organizers

At this point I would like to thank the organizers for inviting me as one of the mentors and I am truly humbled to mentor these budding entrepreneurs. This pool of enthusiasts have done a great job!

  1. Sharanyan Sharma, an award winning Sri Lankan #entrepreneur, founder and chairman Extreme Seo Internet Solutions
  2. Thavaruban Thangarajah, Founder & CEO of Speed IT net.
  3. Chamara Peiris, Former Director – Marketing at Cinergix
  4. Robinson Prashanthan, Founder & CEO of innovay.
  5. Anurag Maloo,Regional Manager (South & Central Asia) at Techstars

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With one of the Entreprenuer Teams – GO MONKEY @startupweekend

Await more updates! ☺

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BNI Sri Lanka – A Place for Networking and Business

“We Meet, We Share, We Network and We Earn”

Yes! This is what we do at BNI.

Business Networking International is not a highly bureaucratic community nor a “just for fun” network. It’s a perfect blend of both. At times we are very formal, professional and serious about our businesses and at times we are members of a big funfilled family.

In business it is an elementary lesson that business networking matters a lot. The more connections you build the more business you earn. Especially, for the small medium enterprises (SMEs) that have smaller marketing budgets and limited scope for advertising and PR, “Word of Mouth Marketing” through networking is an unmatchable substitute.

My story with BNI is interesting (hopefully it will be for you as well J). When I got a call from my Business Partner in USA informing me about this networking group in USA, I thought it was just another community for fun and networking. When I attended the first meeting of BNI’s Sri Lankan wing as a visitor, I realized it will be a good platform for me to expand my network and get business through referrals. After almost one year from day one, I can surely say that my first impression about BNI did not go wrong.

The concept of BNI is totally unique and different from other communities and I see four major differentiating factors compared to other networking communities.

Regular Meetings – It’s proven that if you continue doing something for sometime gradually you will master the art. Likewise if you want to grow the business through network, adhoc meetings will not work. The meeting and gathering should take place regularly. You have to learn about other members’ businesses in order to pass referrals and make more business. BNI chapter members meet up regularly on a weekly basis.

Structured Meetings – When it comes to meetings, there is a common myth that taking part in meetings is a waste of time. One of the key for the success in the business and Entrepreneurship life is time. In relation to using the members’ time, BNI meetings never waste time as the meetings are not held on a random basis. The meetings are well structured and adhere to an agenda which is common for any BNI meeting in any given country. The meetings will be controlled by the Chapter President, which allows everyone to focus more on what is necessary to foster the members and their businesses.

No Conflict of Interest – There is no competition among the chapter members. If you take many of the other communities it’s quite normal to see members from the same industry offering similar services develop a competing mentality among them. This is totally unhealthy in terms of unity as well as in terms of making more business. But at BNI it is different. Only one member from one particular industry can represent a chapter. This provides an exclusive way of promoting your business among peers.

Structured Team – Each chapter in BNI has a Leadership Team lead by the Chapter President. The global BNI guidelines clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each and everyone, which allows everyone to operate in a structured manner and work towards the betterment of everyone.

One of the important things that I appreciate about BNI is its strong business focused foundation laid in a friendship oriented basement. Though it’s a business networking community, the relationship among the members will not stop with the meetings itself. It goes beyond that and we get united during various social responsibility activities, outings and trips, networking education sessions and many more. This gives a perfect platform for any Entrepreneurs and corporate individuals to expand their networks undoubtedly.

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Meetings for Business

bni networking week

Networking Events for Awareness

trip bni

Outings for Fun

bni chatiry

Charity for the Betterment of the Society

bni training

Training Sessions for Knowledge Dispersion

When I joined BNI back at the end of 2013 there was only one chapter operating in Sri Lanka. Now there are two exclusive chapters operating (The Pioneer and The Synergy) independently where as the third chapter (The Winners) is in its early incorporation stage. As the Brand Ambassador of BNI in Sri Lanka I am more than happy to see the concept getting more and more awareness with all the members in BNI Lanka benefiting immensely.

If you need further details please call me on 071 303 2422

How you measure the success of a community?

How you measure the success of a community? It is always difficult to build a community over night. It will take time to develop. You can get a good success rate. But you have to be careful that you have already determined the matrices for success. Measuring the success of an online community is highly essential. The Online Community Report web site defined an array of variable to measure your success story. They are

Unique Visitors
New Member Registrations
Page Views
Retention / Attrition
Member Loyalty
Member Satisfaction
Most Active Members
Top Searches
Message Posts
Conversion
Advertising Performance
Influencer/Evangelist Identification
Member Lifecycle
First Time Contributors
Content Rating
Ratio: Unregistered to Registered Visitors
Ratio: Page Views Per Post
Reputation Changes
Ratio: Posts Per Thread
Content Tagging
Comments per Blog Post
Ratio: Searches Per Post
Podcasts & Video (linked to Uploaded)
Member Blog Posts
Size of Networks/Buddy lists

Top ranking metrics
Traffic patterns & statistics
Community member engagement
Unique number of visitors
New Member registrations
Member Satisfaction
Product feedback and/or ideation for R&D

Based on your characteristics of the community you can define or arrange the matrices, what will come first and whats next?

If you want a great read in developing online community articles visit CommunitySpark. It has well defined articles