Scale(ing)Up start-ups to go global in Sri Lanka

Lathika (Left) and Hasitha (Right) at the Microsoft Sri Lanka HQ in Colombo

Lathika Pai, Country Head, Microsoft for Startups – MENA and SAARC, recently visited Sri Lanka and launched the highly-anticipated Microsoft ScaleUp program. During her visit, she met with start-up owners and media along with Hasitha Abeywardena, Country Manager for Microsoft Sri Lanka and Maldives. They also discussed Microsoft plans to help local startups accelerate business growth and take their products to international markets.

Lathika: Hi Hasitha, I’m really excited to be in Sri Lanka and I’m looking forward to meeting the amazing start-ups and entrepreneurs in your country. Do you agree that this is the perfect time to launch Microsoft’s ScaleUp program?

Hasitha: Of course. The local IT/BPM (Information technology and business process management) sector is poised to bring US$ 5 billion in revenue, 200,000 jobs and 1,000 startups to Sri Lanka within the next three years.

Lathika: There is great potential in Sri Lanka. I’ve met some phenomenal startup leaders during my stay and I can tell you that all of them seem to agree on one thing: They don’t have the means to go global. One of the biggest challenges they seem to face is business development—more specifically, accessing new customers outside of Sri Lanka.

Hasitha: How do you see Microsoft ScaleUp in empowering this community of startups?

Lathika: The program will connect local startups with our experts and mentors that will help them in key areas from scaling and go-to-market strategy to business development and change management. With incredible networking opportunities to offer, Microsoft ScaleUp will also give startups the means to co-sell their own products with Microsoft.

Hasitha: You have founded two companies, so what words of encouragement or advice would you give startups in Sri Lanka?

Lathika: A lot of people have ideas, but only a few decide to act on them right now. Not tomorrow, not in a month. When I started out 17 years ago, I didn’t have access to the level of support bundled within Microsoft ScaleUp. From a technical perspective, such a program would’ve cut sales costs and accelerated my companies’ growth across multiple markets. If startups were to simply take advantage of the support facilities offered to them, I know they could one day become digital unicorns.


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