Takas.lk : A revolution in SriLankan eComm market

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Takas.lk is Sri Lanka’s Largest Electronics Mall, offering a range of consumer electronics. Takas.lk is based in Colombo, Sri Lanka, which is an e-commerce site that markets products online for the consumer. The customer can order goods online and have them delivered to their doorstep anywhere in the island. The site accepts credit cards as well as Cash on Delivery (CoD).

The company was founded by Dilendra Wimalasekere, Lahiru Pathmalal and Murtaza Moosajee and has been funded by venture capitalists including The Sri Lankan Angel Network (Blue Ocean Ventures) and the Indian Angel Network. The current board of the company comprises of the founders and Prajeeth Balasubramanium.

The word “Takas” means quickly, and Takas.lk is promising delivery in Colombo and other suburbs within 3 days. Takas is first to offer mobile friendly website in Srilankan eCom industry.

Techaloo got an opportunity to have a chit chat with Takas Founder, Lahiru Pathmalal. Lets have a glance over the conversation.

Techaloo : When did you start your journey?
Lahiru : We started working on takas.lk early 2012. The idea was essentially born at a coffee shop in Colombo. We realized at the time that there was no eCom site that catered to the electronics consumer in the island and started the process of building one.

Techaloo : What was your vision/mission while starting Takas?
Lahiru : To build Sri Lanka’s largest eCommerce platform for products and services. We want to empower the consumer in Sri Lanka to access anything they desire, and not be marginalized by the location they live in.

Techaloo : How did this idea come to your mind?
Lahiru : When I first moved to Sri Lanka I wanted to buy a LED TV. I tried searching for what was available online and could not find anything that was useful. Thus, kind of quickly figured that if I was looking for products online to purchase, there will be other lankan’s doing the same. Thus, set about building a site that catered for people who wanted to buy things online.

Techaloo : Sri Lanka is not known for entrepreneurship. What difficulties did you face, while starting?
Lahiru : To be honest, while SL does have a reputation for being slack on entrepreneurship I have had personally a great deal of aid from everyone concerned. We were able to raise the seed funding with ease, and had the help and the mentorship of everyone around.
This said, there seems to be a lack of entrepreneurial spirit in the island. And people always value security/capital over ideas. What I mean is simply, it’s very hard to attract qualified people in to business at a startup level since people see it as too risky. Thus at most times they may work for a ‘well established’ entity with little reward and little risk in terms of career prospects.
This is also reflected in government policies in SL, where investment in to the country is seen in $$ and not in terms of ideas. It will be nearly impossible for people who have great ideas, who are not Sri Lankan to set up shop in the island if they are not backed with a lot of capital. This is perhaps the biggest hurdle for Sri Lanka in the future in competing with the world in the future and the mindset got to change.

Techaloo : You have got funding from LAN. What benefits did you get from this, apart from money?
Lahiru : We received some of our funding from LAN. The greatest asset LAN brings in to the table is the mentorship and network. There is a lot of hand holding that was required to get takas.lk to where it is now.

Techaloo : Explain a little more about Takas?
Lahiru : Takas.lk is Sri Lanka’s largest electronics mall. The site was building on ideas of a few people, and to this day is run on a small team. We believe in using technology to cut costs and pass them on to our end consumer, and pride ourselves on service.

Techaloo : You came up with unique features in Sri Lankan e-commerce industry such as COD, Free Shipping, Comparing dashboads etc. Did it help in building the consumer base?
Lahiru : Absolutely, we were the first site in Sri Lanka to do COD! Which is huge considering how small we were when we started doing it, and now everyone is following us.
I believe we were the first site to offer comparative shopping as well, this was hugely important to us to build traffic on to our site. This also aided the consumer since we carried a large number of products.
The free shipping I think is essential in eCommerce, as it gives an added incentive for the consumer to shop online.

Techaloo : Are you planning for any kind of mobile app?
Lahiru : We currently have a very friendly mobile friendly site. Another first for Sri Lankan eCommerce sites. We were the first eCom site in SL to develop an mobile enabled website. So if you’re using any smart phone/tab you will be experiencing a very different interface.

Techaloo : Srilankan IT literacy will reach to 75% by 2016. So, what are your plans for next 3 years?
Lahiru : We have big plans for the next 3 years. Our core goal right now is to solidify our position as the one stop shop for electronics online and then proceed to add other categories.

Techaloo : What will be your advice for budding entrepreneurs?
Lahiru : If you believe in something strongly enough, you have to do it yourself. Business are build not just on capital, they are build on ideas and people. So, spend as much time developing ideas and fostering good relationships as you are trying to make money.

Techaloo : Share some info. about the founders.
Lahiru : The company was founded by Dilendra Wimalasekere, Lahiru Pathmalal and Murtaza Moosajee. Dilendra is a serial entrepreneur and currently runs 2 companies 247 Techies and Eureka. Dilendra currently plays an advisory role. Takas.lk day to day operations is run by Murtaza and I. Murtaza has had more than 18 years of experience in operations and heads operations for us at takas.lk. I personally was in a lot of fields, prior to starting takas, I have done everything from Presidential campaigns to childcare and now runs takas at its CEO.

Techaloo : What do you think about techaloo.com?
Lahiru : It’s a great space for entrepreneurs and tech companies to share ideas and grow together. It’s also really quite fantastic since it brings business in the region together, so people can share their experiences with one another. I personally will look forward to working with techaloo.com in the future.

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Mohit Bansal(23) is B.Tech in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad, India. He has interest in business and entrepreneurship and has published couple of research articles. He is also associated with various NGOs. He is with Techaloo when it was just in concept stage. The Techaloo site was not existing even then. Currently Mohit is working with Mu Sigma as a Business Analyst Profile.

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