Fostering the Entrepreneurial Spirit

Dinesh Saparamadu is a serial entrepreneur. He is the founder of six companies over two decades

By Avanti Samarasekera.

Published on May 21, 2015 with No Comments

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In 1997 he returned to Sri Lanka – after working at us it firms – to establish hSenid, a software developer. hSenid’s products now include software to manage and implement best HR practices, mobile platforms to connect telcos to businesses, and offshore outsourcing services. Two decades ago building a technology business in Colombo was extraordinary challenging because the sharpest people preferred to work overseas or for multinational firms. Startups were rare and faced other challenges like funding, building teams and even locating office space.

“Great ideas are not generated by individuals, but they emerge by talking and sharing with others,” says Dinesh Saparamadu about the challenge of building tech businesses in isolation, which he faced nearly two decades ago. His newest venture – a startup incubator – ‘Loft 1024’, a centrally located office complex is dedicated to nurturing entrepreneurs their ideas and passion.

He also expects to invest in some of the firms that use the office space. For example, hSenid’s venture capital unit may grant Rs1.5 million in cash and provide office space worth Rs500,000 to a company valued at Rs5 million. Businesses that sprout from Loft 1024 may then have hSenid Ventures, the angel investing company set up in 2013, as part ownership.

hSenid’s products are used in over 30 countries and by more than 650 customers with 400,000 worldwide users. Its latest venture is PeoplesHR, a web-based human capital management solution specially designed to minimize a client’s day-today operational workload and make life easier for HR staff and system administrators. Loft 1024 will rent desks and separate rooms for five to seven people and can accommodate 40 people at one time. Desks or rooms can be rented per day to a week, or even longer. Dinesh says the benefit of an incubator is not the real estate, but the eco system and the inspiration of working with like-minded people. hSenid’s role in the operation is that of a mentor and catalyst. In addition to the infrastructure and some services. “We want to build real products and services,” Dinesh says. He is equally excited about the innovation-inspired transformation Sri Lanka has seen over the past two years. Graduates are rejecting jobs to become entrepreneurs. Loft 1024 hopes to identify promising individuals through hSenid’s hackathons and university business competitions, and provide a start-up structure for them to grow. He is optimistic that Loft 1024 will be buzzing with budding entrepreneurs in a year.

Dinesh is however encouraged by India’s target of achieving 10,000 start-ups in a year. As a founding member and past chairman of Sri Lanka’s primary IT and BPO business association, SLASSCOM, he commends the organisation’s goal to help 1,000 start-ups in Sri Lanka.

He is also passionate about encouraging entrepreneurship in rural areas. After Loft 1024 in Colombo is operational as a plug and play office, he is looking at setting up in other key towns like Kandy, Galle and Jaffna.

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