The Entrepreneur Unites, a unique event organized by The Entrepreneur Media, brought four of Sri Lanka’s most influential business leaders on to one stage to help the country’s up-and-coming entrepreneurs build their entrepreneur mindset. Held at the Taj Samudra, Colombo, the exclusive event focused on the best insights and advice from Founder of Harpo’s Hotel, Cafe & Restaurants Harpo Gooneratne, Founder of Kapruka Dulith Herath, Chairman of George Steuart Group and Derana Dilith Jayaweera and Co-Founder of Spa Ceylon Shalin Balasuriya.
Looking back at his life journey, Harpo Gooneratne spoke about the pursuit of passion and why passion is essential to entrepreneurship and building a thriving business. He pointed out how entrepreneurs who convey passion are more persuasive, motivated, have larger social networks and have more social capital, adding, “When you have passion you also need to have a good team as you cannot do this alone. So it’s important to have good people around you.”
Dulith Herath elaborated on how an entrepreneur should be ready for many challenges, from failure to criticism, during his/her journey. Using his life experiences, he informed the audience about the difficult challenges he faced during his long journey as a serial entrepreneur where he had used failure to his advantage and overcame the negativity and hate he encountered along the way. Revisiting a controversial incident involving him and his company last year, he stated, “You must remember three things. Have patience. Learn to keep your mouth shut and let things cool down. Secondly, change how you look at challenges. And always stay strong to show your team that the leadership is rock solid.” He stated that entrepreneurs must learn to use the power of controversy in their favor, adding, “It’s about how you harness this power. If you harvest it right you can really use it differently and do great things.”
Dilith Jayaweera explained how an entrepreneur is a person who sets up a business, taking on financial risks in hopes of achieving profits. He commented, “Entrepreneurship could be looked at from a happiness perspective. Living in Sri Lanka, we are in a country where happiness is appreciated than in most other countries. We have taken risks in different stages of our life which gave us happiness.” While being an entrepreneur, Jayaweera advised the audience to move away from a ‘corporate’ mindset and approach the business from a local point of view, tapping into Sri Lanka’s 2,500-year-old civilization and concepts in dealing with customers.
Expressing his views on how a business can stand out by using branding, Shalin Balasuriya stated, “Make sure that your brand makes the customer feel something. It’s all about that feeling. As an entrepreneur and as brand people think of ‘what is my brand going to make the consumer feel and how do I make them feel it at every touch point?’” Offering his insights on personal branding, Balasuriya added, “All of us have a personal brand and thanks to smartphones, we can broadcast it to the whole world. We can finetune a personal brand but you can’t create it because if you create it you’re not being authentic, and authenticity is very important. Even with a personal brand again it all comes down to what you are making people feel when you interact with them.”
The Entrepreneur Media is the premier source of insights, advice, and guides from Sri Lanka’s most influential Entrepreneurs and opinion leaders. It strives to produce valuable content for its growing audience that primarily includes established and budding entrepreneurs as well as corporate leaders and professionals. Additionally, The Entrepreneur Platform is increasingly utilized by the academic communities via mainstream digital media platforms. The Entrepreneur Unites was supported by Main Sponsors CIMA Sri Lanka, ICBT Campus, Crocodile and Blue Ocean Group of Companies together with Taj Samudra Colombo (Venue Partner), Atom Media (Outdoor Media Partner), Good PR Sri Lanka (PR Partner), Sterill (Sanitizer Partner), CameraLK (Videography Equipment Partner), and Vitagen (Nutrition Supplement Partner).