When one thinks of enterprise software, we typically associate it with the likes of Oracle. Yet, there are companies in Sri Lanka offering solutions that rival those by these giants. These local companies include startups as well. One such startup is Enhanzer, which has its eZuite platform utilized by many large corporates across the country. But how they get to where they are today with companies like George Gooneratne Group & MacLarens Group utilizing their solutions? This is their story.
A childhood of gadgetry
Hailing from Ratnapura, Lashan Silva studied at St. Aloysius College. From his childhood, he was always fascinated with gadgets. He tinkered around with LEDs and circuit boards creating intricate little devices that he would present to his teachers. He also wrote his first program in Microsoft Excel using macros in Grade 11. That program went on to be used by a financial institution.
His perpetual curiosity followed him through his school years all the way to University. He got selected to the University of Moratuwa in 2009 for a Bachelors of Science in Information Technology. During his second year at University, Lashan, along with several others in his batch took part in a 6-week programme organized by MIT. This was the MIT Global Startup Labs.
Lashan had no prior knowledge of entrepreneurship or startups. Nonetheless, his curiosity got the better of him. So, he applied and was selected for the programme. This planted the initial seeds of entrepreneurship into his head. At the time, the primary objective of Lashan and his team was to develop a solution for TelCos for mapping based on MMS.
He would continue working on this startup while being an intern at Ridgecrest Asia, which runs TicketsLK. While interning there, Lashan did his own research about data analytics and cloud solutions. Upon returning to his university life, Lashan was still a part of the original startup he kicked off, but he wanted more.
The birth of Enhanzer
Lashan graduated in 2013 and the road ahead was uncertain but full of opportunities. But he had a dream of running his own cloud and data analytics platform. With these goals in mind, Lashan, alongside Gnanesh Ranga christened their new startup as Enhanzer.
Enhanzer’s goal would be to provide a platform to help businesses streamline their operations. The initial product was a Point-of-Sales system dubbed ePOS that was launched in 2014. The system would work as a standalone offline system or could connect to a remote database to store records. And it was built from scratch by Lashan and Gnanesh without any help.
Within a span of 6 months, they had a stable version of ePOS. Throughout all this, they were researching platforms for cloud-based data analytics and storage. They’d identified that there was a need for it. One primary reason for that was that storing files offline was problematic. A system could always crash, and the local files could be lost. In addition, the maintenance of multiple offline locations was also a bit of a nightmare.
Around this time, Enhanzer also received the support of Microsoft. Besides with Azure, they also became the first startup in Sri Lanka to graduate from Microsoft BizSpark in 2015. Thus far, everything was coming along nicely. While ePOS was the company’s bread and butter, Lashan and Gnanesh were also working on a brand-new product with additional functionality. They called it eZuite. It would be a cloud-based ERP platform.
Early 2015 saw the first beta release of eZuite
They got their very first corporate customer, which was the George Gooneratne Group. At the time the group’s system was not capable of handling the processing information from all their branches. Lashan and team took the opportunity to pitch Enhanzer and eZuite. To this day, George Guneratne Group still uses eZuite to connect over 35 branched across Sri Lanka.
But now that eZuite was enterprise-ready, Lashan and his team had no time for a break. Day in and day out they were adding, removing and streamlining features. Needless to say, they ran into their fair share of issues. The team had to grow. So, they reached out to their friends and university students looking for internships. By mid-2015, the Enhanzer team grew to 5 people and eZuite was stable.
Their hard work was not unnoticed either. They applied for the Microsoft Partner Awards in 2015. They won the award under the category of “Best Startup/Solution/App of the year”. This was the first award eZuite won. But Enhanzer didn’t’ stop there. They also applied for NBQSA 2015 under the Startup Category and walked away with the Silver Award. eZsuite become a continuous award-winning platform with a number of laurels added to their wreath.
“We didn’t want to pitch at hackathons because we literally had no time to do anything but work on eZuite” – Lashan Silva.
The team grew further and just in time too. Even though they didn’t have millions of customers. But the customers they had gave them enough work to keep them on their toes. Eager to showcase eZuite to a global audience, Lashan took Enhanzer to take part in 4YFN Barcelona in 2016. From there, they took part many times in InnoFest Unbound in Singapore, Disrupt Asia via ICTA and Spiralation.
Fast-forward to 2016 and eZuite got a host of features
This kicked off with eLogistics, which is a module that handles fleet management and logistics operation. This was followed by eDistribute which is the main part of the eZuite platform which handles manufacturing and distribution operations. In 2017, eZuite version 2.0 was launched.
This boasted a plethora of new UI upgrades along with Dashboards and Analytics. The team was now a total of 15 permanent members. It was backed up by over 50 interns. They also had around 10-15 freelancers acting as customer support for onsite tasks such as configuration and bug fixing.
Enhanzer also got a multitude of new customers in 2017. One of these included their first foreign customer from Uganda. From that point onwards, Enhanzer and eZuite built up a foreign customer base of around 100 customers. This brought their overall customer base to almost 100 by the end of 2017.
April 2017 saw eZuite being bumped up to V2.1. This update brought some performance improvements. In addition, new modules were added. These include eMobile, a Sales Force module, mobile app for Salesforce, eDocs for document management, and eAsset for asset management. It also laid the groundwork for eAnalytics with Machine learning and AI-based predictions and forecasting.
eZuite at the moment
Currently, the team at Enhanzer are working on the eAnalytics module. They are also looking at carrying on their business in Uganda and Maldives in terms of market penetration. In addition, the team also has their own APIs. These would allow eZuite to combine with existing ERPs.
“It’s not just about the team at Enhanzer”, Lashan explained. The company is planning to launch an eZuite Store. This store would allow developers to build and sell apps that utilize the eZuite core platform. Lashan shared with us that this was to encourage knowledge sharing amongst all developers.
Finally, after doing all this, Enhanzer is also looking to launch a series of funding rounds to gain additional investment. According to Lashan, everything is almost ready to go ahead with Series A funding likely to be held in 2019. As of 2018, Enhanzer has incorporated eZuite into companies such as Maclaren Group, Hirdaramani, DIMO Lanka, Taprobane Seafoods and Maneesha Group.
We asked Lashan for some advice he can give budding entrepreneurs. “You need to believe in yourself, believe in your team, and more importantly, you need to believe in your product”. “If you see a traction coming in, always focus on that. You don’t need a fully-fledged product. You start with an MVP and then add functions to it. More importantly, validate your customers and feedback. That way you won’t waste your effort developing unwanted features.
If you are interested in seeing how eZuite can help you, you can check them out here.