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First Movers in the SriLankan Entrepreneurial Ecosystem- Targeting the Premium Tourist Space, Trekurious

Jubin Mehta
4th Oct 2012
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Sri Lanka, the pearl of the Indian Ocean is known for its lovely beaches and maybe cricket fanaticism but surely not entrepreneurship. But hang on, a deeper look reveals recent flirtations Sri Lanka has had with starting up. IAN forayed into the market and one of the most prolific investors in India, Rajan Anandan who is originally a Sri Lankan has invested time and effort in the country and one can expect this to pay rich dividends soon.

Sri Lanka is reasonably well known for tourism and the sector is opening up. This definitely means a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs and Trekurious is one such startup founded by Rukmankan Sivaloganathan along with fellow entrepreneur, Dilendra Wimalasekere to bank on the opportunity.

An MBA from INSEAD, Rukmankan has a banking background having worked with HSBC, Citi, and SCB in Sri Lanka, London, and Singapore. But always having the itch to startup, he was waiting for the right idea to strike. He tried out a few things like a deal site (which didn’t go anywhere) and is also setting up a new fast food chain in Sri Lanka but he found soul in travel. Being really fond of it ( he has climbed the 6,189 m high Island Peak near Everest), Rukmankan found a gap in the space which was there for the taking. “People come to Sri Lanka and have disposable income to spend on premium experiences but there were none on offer. This is where Trekurious comes in. It’s based on the experiences marketplace model but we’ve tweaked it to suit the local market,” informs Rukmankan. Trekurious picks out experiences from the high end segment and puts them on the platter for tourists.

Dilendra Wimalasekere was one of Sri Lanka's first tech entrepreneurs having founded one of the country's first ISPs, Eureka Technology Partners, in 1996. Having a strong hold on the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Sri Lanka, Dilendra's experience enabled them to source offers and streamline operations quickly. The duo started seriously on the idea around in March 2012 and intiated work on it. Around this time, Blue Ocean Ventures (formed by Rajan Anandan and Prajeeth Balasubramaniam) in partnership with the IAN organized a b-plan wherein Trekurious pitched. This led to Trekurious to raise funds from a consortium of Sri Lankan investors, including Blue Ocean.

Target Market

The usual flow of traffic comprises of Indians but there are people from other countries as well with UK being a big chunk. “One key factor here is that Sri Lanka has never been looked upon as a premium tourism destination and this is what we aim to change,” informs Rukman.

With financial backing and a good start, Trekurious intends to become pan-Asia in the future but immediate plans are to consolidate their position and then expand aggressively.

More about the Sri Lankan Market and a favourable looking startup scenario:

  • The budget deficit of Sri Lanka will fall gradually in 2009-12, to stand at 6.3% of GDP in 2012. The Government will favor free markets, try to improve the fiscal situation and also will pursue slow economic liberalization.
  • GDP growth will average 5.8% a year in 2008-12. Export growth and the services sector will remain the principal drivers of the economy during the forecast period.
  • Consumer price inflation will ease from double-digit rates currently (2007-2008) to 4.9% by 2012. The decline in the rate of price rises will be driven by supply-side improvements, easing inflation in global commodity markets and increased local food production.
  • Opening and closing a business is pretty easy in Sri Lanka. However, paying taxes, maintaining licenses, getting credit are still a problem.

Trekurious is on PAGES.

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