It was the last tuesday of September, and that usually means one thing. Spike Meetup was happening. Last time we made our way to Barefoot Cafe, Tony Weersinghe was in the spotlight. This time, we had Mohammed Fawas from Global Tutor and the PAYable team share their entrepreneurial journeys.
The passion of a Friend, tribute to Sujith from PAYable
Its been a few months since the passing of PAYable’s Co-Founder, Sujith Subasinghe. At the September edition of the Spike meetup, the PAYable team took stage to share their stories about Sujith. In case you didn’t know already, PAYable is a startup that’s involved with cashless payments and is now worth a billion rupees.
Starting off, Yohan Wijesiriwardane and the PAYable team talked about why one needs to be close with your customers when you’re a startup. They explained how even Sujith, being the company CEO took customer service so seriously. From the odd Facebook query to regular customer inquiries, its always important to communicate with your audience. Sometimes, the ability to engage and keep the customer hooked goes a long way from a company perspective.
Talking about Sujith and the company as a whole, Yohan and his team had a couple of tips to share with the startups and its founders. The first was that one should always put one’s startup ahead of everything. Its often easy to take decisions that go with the founders/co-founders or investors.
Putting yourself first and your startup second would only mean that your startup will go away along with you. The team also emphasized on the importance of hiring people who are far better than you. Having a talented and skilled team always helps in ensuring you’ve got the right people who embodies your vision.
Persevering through the years, a glimpse into Global Tutor
Next up was another interesting story. This was Mohammed Fawaz’s entrepreneur journey with Global Tutor. During the early 2000’s, Fawaz had come to Colombo in search of a job. He first started off as a call center executive. However, his start as a call center executive wasn’t all that great.
His manager insisted on him improving his communication skills. To put things into context, one time Fawaz was paid for 2 days to watch How I Met Your Mother. Why? So that he could improve his vocabulary as well as hone his skills. If only I was paid to watch my favorite TV series.
Later on, Fawaz wanted to start his own company. He decided to register one under the name FWS. Fawaz wanted to know whether live online tutoring is something that would work. He made it a habit to visit schools to distribute leaflets to school kids and their parents. This was until someone questioned him how he could talk about education to schools whereas Fawaz himself wasn’t qualified.
So he got back to pursuing his own higher education. Of course, things didn’t actually stop here. In fact, Fawaz went on to pitch for investors. This didn’t really work out so well. Not at first anyway. But nevertheless, things were still going for FWS, with a few students signing up for online tutoring.
Getting investors, GSEA and ending thoughts
In 2013, FWS was renamed to Global Tutor. By now the company had its first investor on board. He gave 12 months to make the company work. But even as the 12 months went by, nothing really worked out for Global Tutor. The investor had told Fawaz that it was high time to decide on the future of the company. Things looked downhill for the moment. But then Fawaz met Kanishka Weeramunda from PayMedia. With his support things started taking a positive turn for Global Tutor.
Fawaz went on to talk about the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) and his involvement with the initiative. Before concluding his session, he touched on how GSEA entering Sri Lanka not only helped the startup ecosystem, but also helped his own journey with ‘Global Tutor as well. That ended the 2 sessions for the evening. Following up, was the Q&A session from the audience. Here, we saw quite a few curious hands go up for both Fawaz as well as the PAYable team.
After quite an interactive session of questions from the audience, the September edition of Spike finally came to a close. Until next time.