Disrupt 2.0 — Inspire, Ideate, Initiate and Disrupt

by Aloka Gunasekara

It’s with giddy enthusiasm that Refresh Colombo welcome Disrupt 2.0 by Startup Sri Lanka, an initiative from SLASSCOM.

The event attempts to inspire and mentor fledgling startups, two things sorely needed for creating a healthy startup ecosystem.

The event is going to be held at Trace Expert City on 9th December (a Wednesday) from 4.00PM onwards. They’re going to have 3 main things at the event.

  • A bootcamp for startups
  • A publicly open session featuring Hemachandra Wegapitiya of Laugfs fame and Tony Weerasinghe of MilleniumIT fame
  • Beer and networking

I’ll come to the bootcamp and the beer & networking part later. Let me just address the elephant in the room.

Hemachandra Wegapitiya and Tony Weerasinghe are two people who started from scratch and made it big. The companies they created are industry behemoths. If there are two people who’ve really done it, these guys are it. I’m sure they will have a lot to share about the paths they took and the decisions they made that brought them to where they are now.

As for the boot camp, they’re going to have the following people in it. These folks will talk about a range of subjects including initial set up, hiring, legal aspects, funding, and pretty much everything a startup would need to know to get themselves out there. Here’s the list of speakers/mentors.

  • Harsha Purasinghe — Founder/CEO, Microimage
  • Suren Pinto — CEO, Wavenet and Founder and CEO, Wifyer
  • Mangala Karunaratne — CEO, Calcey Technologies
  • Chandika Jayasundera — CEO, Cinergix
  • Shahani Markus — Chairperson and CEO, Capaxus Ltd
  • Ruwindhu Pieris, Investor/Managing Director of Stax
  • Dr. Michael Nirmal De Silva — Country Manager, Regus
  • Jeevan Gnanam — CEO, Orion City and Founding Director, Lankan Angel Network
  • Dr. Prasad Samarasinghe — MD, Lanka Bell
  • Sudath Perera — Senior Partner, Sudath Perera Associates
  • Naresh Abeyesekera — CEO, Secquero
  • Channa Manoharan — Advisory Leader/COO, PwC
  • Dilendra Wimalasekere — VP Marketing, WSO2
  • Dinesh Sapramadu — Founder and CEO, hSenid Group
  • Nayana Samaranayake — Founder, Storylize
  • Haridhu Abeygoonaratne — COO, SimCentric Technologies

As for beer, that’ll be the networking session. Just make sure not to drink too much of the stuff. You’ll have better things to do than getting drunk.

So basically, anyone who’s going to go for Disrupt 2.0 is bound to get some in-depth insights about taking an idea into Proof of Concept, initial customer acquisition, growth, team hiring, understanding legalese, investments and taking a product beyond a startup.

I reckon this is a good thing. Doing a startup in Sri Lanka is hard, I mean very hard. Having started one ourselves some time back, I wish we had something like Disrupt 2.0 back then. The learning curve you have to go through when you start something on your own is immense. The banks, company registration stuff, labour department woes, taxation, bringing in foreign funds and all other operational stuff consumes a lot of time. Plus, there’s no one place you can go to learn at least some of it. Everything I’ve listed here, we learnt to handle them through trial and error — mostly error.

Product development and the pains in it is just a whole different ball game.

Pushing yourself through all that takes super human effort. So when someone’s going to sit your ass down and preach it to you, please heed.

Plus, ideas are worthless and money is cheap in the startup scene. All you have to do is just look at the valuations of some of the ideas that became products. Those didn’t happen overnight. Someone worked their bums off to get them there.

The thing I like about Disrupt 2.0 is that SLASSCOM is actually doing something that matters. I don’t think you can put together a set of people like the ones listed above very often. I wish if they had someone from pickme.lk or Athos, but that’s just me thinking out loud.

We at Refresh Colombo wish Disrupt 2.0 and the people who’re going to participate all the very best. Please learn something and get some stuff happening.

You’ll have to email Anas@slasscom.lk for registering.

P.S — I think Xeleration is a related initiative. Go have a look at it as well. www.xeleration.xyz

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