A young man with a massive plan – find out what the National Champion of the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) 2017 had to say about running a startup

As a startup striving to offer simple solutions that enrich the lives of Sri Lankans, we are constantly inspired by others in the country who share our vision. As an initiative to create more awareness and support such brands and individuals, we at Save Your Monkey hope to share their stories and plans for the country through ThinkSYMple.

The startup eco system of Sri Lanka is growing faster than ever before and inspiring every passionate innovator to strive towards creating their own business. However, the instant they have to progress towards the actual implementation of their vision, all things come to a pause as doubt and fear make their way in– Am I too young? Do I have enough financial backing? Do I know enough about the business I’m getting into?

While most people bid their entrepreneurial dreams goodbye at this point, there are also many young individuals in Sri Lanka who have braved through the storm to become highly successful. At Save Your Monkey, we had the pleasure of talking to one such individual who has continued to innovate amidst many challenges and become a leading name in the student entrepreneurial landscape of Sri Lanka.

Adhisha Gammanpila is currently a second year undergraduate at the University of Sri Jayawardenapura who is on his way to specialise in either computer science or mathematics– two of his biggest passions.  Adhisha is also a part of a team that is on its way towards building one of Sri Lanka’s most innovative tech startups– team SurfEdge.

Adhisha, who is a co-founder of SurfEdge, had his very first attempt at innovation along with his friends when he was still in school with the product Ted. This was recognized as the second most innovative product at the Apple Oracle Thinkfest.  Since then,  he was set on the idea of starting his own business one day which lead to the establishment of SurfEdge.

Key innovations by the team at  SurfEdge  include GuruPaara.lk and GuruPaara Compass.

GuruPaara is  a website that allows school children to navigate through their A/L classes as well as share knowledge through a forum, while Gurupaara compass is  a higher education planing tool that lets students explore their future prospects.  The team has been able to grow a student audience of 15,000 within an year while they also plan to to scale GuruPaara to global audiences this year. Another product by SurfEdge is www.hakathon.lk, a directory for hakathons in Sri Lanka that connects all tech enthusiasts together.

SurfEdge also released one if its latest products “KohoKoho” recently. A simple application that would connect all Sri Lankans around the globe to celebrate Avurudu together, while being more informed about the nakath (auspicious times) of the New Year. This authentic app was downloaded by over two thousand Sri Lankans from around the world.

To Adhisha, the biggest asset that drives him to move forward as an entrepreneur and innovator is his team at SurfEdge.

I wouldn’t have achieved any of the things that I have done today without this amazing team. They are all undergraduates who work tirelessly to achieve a common vision of making life smart for our country. Being a part of team SurfEdge has made me who I am today.” 

Adhisha mentioned practice and time management as the two most important factors when balancing life as both an undergraduate and an innovator. He spoke of the weeks spent without any sleep during the inception of SurfEdge when they were only starting to master the art of running a business.  When inquired what he does for fun, Adhisha offered a very simple answer with a laugh  “well, what I do for fun is working on SurfEdge, it’s the one thing that I enjoy doing the most.”

As young as the team at SurfEdge is, their plans are more than most people dare to have in a life time. They dream of creating what people envision for the next 200 years in the next 10 years. Every product they conceptualise has its own story that they aspire to fulfill. Their business is driven by setting goals that they ensure to achieve and by enjoying every part of what they do.  The team believes in the mantra “connect and innovate,” where they identify requirements of people and create solutions that are easily accessible.  When touring through the website and apps created by SurfEdge, one striking feature they all have is the ability to easily connect and relate. The platforms are designed in such a way that people feel connected to what they are doing.

Adhisha also addressed a common concern that most entrepreneurs in the country have – the lack of recognition and support for entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka.

“I believe that there are opportunities that are often overlooked in Sri Lanka and that you have to seek in order to discover them. Connecting and collaborating with people will always lead the way to more opportunities. We at SurfEdge have always been fortunate to be guided and supported by great mentors since we ask for support when we need it. This is another thing most young entrepreneurs fail to do.  If you ask for support, the startup ecosystem has a wide network  that will help you connect with the right person in the country”

The team at SurfEdge has won many awards both nationally and internationally while Adhisha himself was renowned as the National Champion for the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards for this year. He also represented Sri Lanka at the global platform of this same competition in Frankfurt, Germany.. When asked about his secret for success, Adhisha had two things to say– a great vision and an even greater team”

We at Save Your Monkey are constantly inspired by young minds such as Adhisha and the team at SurfEdge for their fearless spirit to chase their passion in life.   We believe that this spirit and determination will be the catalyst that drives Sri Lanka forward one day.

We wish all the very best to Adhisha and his team, and look forward to the great things that will, no doubt, come their way in the future.