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Kapruka founder tell APIIT MBA’s ‘ Even today, I do coding-it’s my life’

Friday, 28th of January 2022

APIIT Launch IT Degrees from Staffordshire University (UK)

The strongest Industry linked Education partner in Sri Lanka – The Asia Pacific Institute of Technology( APIIT) partnering the top British University Staffordshire University( UK) hosted the top Sri Lankan entrepreneur Dulith Herath of Kapruka fame at last week’s APIIT MBA Diaries in the backdrop of the launch of the top IT Degrees from the University of Staffordshire. His message to the youngsters was “ You must love what you do so that work becomes a passion and hobby. Even today, I do coding as that is the foundations of understanding what you are to offer a customer as solution based on the requirement said Herath passionately.

Interviewed by Dr. Rohantha Athukorala the key insights from the personality was unique was the feedback. In the backdrop of the interview, APIIT launched the top IT Degrees - BSc( Hons) in Computer Science, Cyber Security, and Software Engineering. APIIT, the leader for top-quality education with a multinational operation established in partnership with Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation, Malaysia and Staffordshire University, UK. The most contemporary degrees are offered in IT, Business and Law that is entrenchly embedded to the Sri Lankan youth experience.

Some of the best performers in the corporate world have been trained by APIIT said the communique. The uniqueness of APIIT way of education is that blended learning is been done with top-quality lecturers from academia and the private sector so that when one graduates the employability is 100%. This is our promise to Sri Lanka said Chairman APIIT Bandula Egodage. Last week's guest Dulith Herath is a well-known and successful Sri Lankan serial entrepreneur. He is better known as the King of E-commerce in Sri Lanka as he is the Founder and Chairman of Sri Lanka’s largest e-commerce organization, Kapruka.com.

Over the years he has been instrumental in exploring further opportunities by founding Kapruka Global Shop and setting up the chain of coffee shops named Java Lounge in Colombo. He also co-founded Grasshoppers, an e-commerce logistics enterprise to underpin all e-commerce ventures in the country. It was in the year 2010 that Dulith was first recognised for his amazing skills, knowledge, and entrepreneurial talent, where he won the award for the Sri Lankan Entrepreneur of the Year. Herath has won numerous awards including the Asia Pacific Young Entrepreneur Award in 2013, Sri Lankan Entrepreneur of the Year once again in 2017, and CSSL ICT Leader of the Year in 2017.

In 2018 he was presented with the Management Leadership Award from the Institute of Certified Professional Manager and also “ The Asia Pacific Entrepreneur Award in the Retail Category”. In 2019 He was recognized as a “YAKADA MINIHA” of Sri Lanka, in a campaign launched by the Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development called “PANNARAYA” Explaining how he began Herath said with the simple idea of helping expats buy things for their loved ones in Sri Lanka was the birth of the company. By setting up a rose flower farm, he made it possible for expat Sri Lankans to send flowers to their loved ones at home.

The success of the flower delivery service allowed Made him to expand his business into what is known today as Sri Lanka’s largest e-commerce organisation with over 10,000 products and over 30 types of distinct services. Dulith then said that he opened up the Java lounge, a café franchise which is the first to offer Starbuck’s coffee in Sri Lanka. Kapruka’s success stems from innovations inspired by the company’s spirit of creativity which has set the standard for online business strategies and web-based benchmarks in Sri Lanka said Dulith on several projects in the past.

Who inspired you?

When asked by Dr. Rohantha Athukorala in the interview ‘ who has inspired you in life the answer was “ One of the best advice’s that I received was from Honorable Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan — where he mentioned that as a leader your overall focus should be on the BIG GOALS. Otherwise, you end up doing small tasks without any connection to the big picture. So, I asked Imran Khan — You are solving a nation's problem and there are too many of it. What is your big vision? To which he replied Poverty Alleviation, and pushing that lever is going to make all the difference in the big picture.

Pick from others

When asked any memorable insights he voices I was fortunate to meet and interact with leaders from around the world from China’s business magnate Jack Ma, to Global e-commerce leader Jeff Bezos. My ethos is to “pick some information at a deeper level from successful people that I meet. Those moments are more than just a business deal. It’s a wonderful chance to meet and associate with master minds” said Herath.

Enjoy the day?

“I knew entrepreneurship was my calling very early on in life, and am honestly addicted to create. If I wake up in the morning and there aren’t any problems to solve, it makes me upset. That’s why I keep on creating new businesses. In fact, I remember my mother recalling how that as a young kid I used to be upset when our domestic helpers had nothing to do once they were done with cooking. It used to bother me what would they do till night, so I pushed my parents to get them a TV in the kitchen. Idling around really bothers me.” Entrepreneurs get bored pretty fast- especially where there aren’t any new challenges on the horizon to fix was candidly put by Dulith to the question by Dr. Athukorala.

Advise to youngsters

“Working cultures that I create within my teams has helped me leap far. There is no point in having money and brains without the right teams in place. My staff are more of themselves; they feel comfortable to give even dumb ideas without any hesitation. We joke around, it's relaxed. It only works with genuine respect and cares for people, without any pretense as you can easily see it through. An organization's culture has a lot to do with their success was the key advise to the youngsters. You must create that culture he said.

Why Kapruka went public

Athukorala explained to the audience on how Kapruka, the locally founded and globally established e-commerce platform, made headlines recently over the company listing on the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE), as the e-commerce platform made the announcement on its initial public offering (IPO) to raise Rs. 505.5 million. Herath stated: “During the last couple of years, we (Kapruka) are going over 100% Year-on-Year (YoY) because overall e-commerce has started to propel due to the lockdown and due to the limited products availability in the country.” Due to social distancing measures such as islandwide lockdowns that came into effect with the Covid-19 pandemic, people in the country were left with a limited number of choices when it comes to retail shopping, especially groceries and essentials.

As a result, consumers were pushed to consider online shopping which means that three will be a deeper penetration of the product category and it’s a good time to go public as one will have to scale up said Herath enthusiastically. “For example, everybody searches for something online, even unusual things such as a fork and a knife, as you normally do not purchase something trivial as a fork and a knife,” Herath said, explaining that this had been the bottom line behind the success of his business during the challenging times.

In terms of its global market establishment, Kapruka was able to partner with multinational e-commerce corporation giants in the global arena such as Amazon and eBay, which subsequently made an elephantine leap in both expanding Kapruka as well as enhancing the client experience. “We partnered with Amazon and eBay to sell well-known Sri Lankan brands such as Dilmah, Nesta, and Link Samhan in the US market,” he said. Explaining how these domestic product brands have been evolved to the world through e-commerce, Herath said that, taking Dilmah as an example, when you go to Hilton Colombo or any other five-star hotel, you find Dilmah Tea in your room.

Accordingly, Herath added that the global expansion with Amazon and eBay not only enhanced the consumer experience but also opened doors for domestic, export-quality products to be introduced to global consumption – to western markets he said. APIIT has staged top business personalities weekly in the year 2022 to address the country via the “APIIT MBA Diaries” which so far Included personalities such as Global branding guru Simon Anholt, Unilever Chairperson Hajar Alifafi, Ambassador to China Palitha Kohonna, Nestle Managing Director Fabrice Cavallin and very recently the Sri Lankan Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and Head of the Mission to European Union Grace Asiriwathan, The former chairman of Sri Lanka Bar Council Presidents Counsel Geoff Alagaratnam Group CEO of Dialog Supun Weerasinghe and Ambassador to United Kingdom Saroja Sirisena. APIIT MBA’s is the most sought after MBA in Sri Lanka said Dr. Athukorala.

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