Startup Talks by Startup School Colombo: A Lookback


Say the word “School” and the first thing that pops into your mind is a place to learn, have fun and spend time with friends. What if there was a school where you could learn to run your own startup? Well, that’s what Startup School was all about. We initially saw them in 2018 with their maiden programme.  Since then, they’ve had a number of workshops, mentoring sessions and panel discussions.

Startup Talks
Aloka addressing the gathering

While you may have the passion needed to run a business, you might not have the knowledge required This is where Startup School can help you, explained Aloka Gunasekera – Founder of StartupX Foundry. Even if you have the passion and the knowledge required, your startup can fail.

What makes a business work?

Using examples from his first startup, Aloka shared that the number one reason for a business to fail is a lack of revenue. If you don’t have enough revenue coming in, you essentially run out of money to sustain your business.

This is a delicate balancing act. You obviously can’t run the business alone. You need a team. But as soon as you get a team, that also means you start paying salaries. If you’re not generating enough income to pay employees, you’re going to be in trouble. Aloka emphasized that ensuring that you company has a profit is essential for it to be sustainable.  

Startup Talks
Aloka sharing his views on how to keep a company profitable

First-time entrepreneur success stories are quite rare, Aloka shared. It’s more often a case where someone would start a business and then learn from it. From that point, they can either learn from it and continue, or scrap it and start something else.

Sharing experiences at Startup Talks

Adding from personal experience, Aloka continued to talk about the startups he was a part of. His point across all of them was that for a startup, funding and profits are important. Its not only that though. You must be able to put a value on your company. This is useful when pitching your company to investors. In addition, Aloka also emphasized that it’s important to build your network.

Startup Talks by Startup School Colombo: A Lookback 3

In conclusion, Aloka emphasized that we should always go out and learn, experience new things. “If you haven’t been to another country, go ahead and do it”. It’s all about the experience.

All about personal branding

Following Aloka’s session, Startup School Colombo also had a panel discussion. Moderated by our very own Enosh Praveen, the session had Aloka Gunasekera, Rayhana Jiffry – Founder/CEO of Glitterday and Jehan Wijesinghe – Co-Founder & CEO of IgniterSpace as panelists.

What is personal branding?

This was the first question thrown to the panelists by Enosh. Aloka explained that personal branding is all about personality. It’s about how you appear on social media platforms and in real life. For example, Aloka shared that any WhatsApp message sent to him are replied to him within 2 hours. But, he’s not on active on social media.

Startup Talks
Aloka spoke about his views on personal branding

Rayhana too shared that personal branding is about personality. You are able to connect to an audience and relate to them. You can’t build a personality overnight. It takes time. But in the end, you won’t be the person you are when you began. That journey would be one of personal branding. It is who you are now

Startup Talks
Rayhana sharing her views on personal branding

Jehan’s views on personal branding was that to develop a value in yourself, akin to a personal resume. You can build a personal brand in a very short time. But it’s the decisions that you take that really matter in what you will achieve. While you can reflect your personality through your brand, it should be done sto strategically.

Startup Talks
Jehan’s views on personal branding was to create a sort of virtual resume

Personal branding: Do and Don’t

Rayhana shared that you can have just one or two values that you hold firm. She emphasized that these values should be held onto firmly and also add more values along the way. Adding to that, Jehan shared that having a role model also helps you see what values you can develop.

Taking Steve jobs as an example, Rayhana shared that the work that the late founder of Apple built up the brand of Apple based on how he marketed their products. So irrelevant to the content that you’re sharing, if you can capture an audience, that’s an important step towards personal branding.

Startup Talks
The panel discussion in full swing at the Startup Talks

Jehan shared that with regard to personal branding, what you say reflects your personality. This also includes who you interact with. Be in the company of important people and you might just make a handy dandy connection or two.

Startup Talks
Ending Startup Talks on a definite high

With a few more questions from the audience, the Startup Talk organized by Startup School Colombo drew to a close. If you are interested in learning more about Startup School Colombo, you can check out their website and Facebook page.


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