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Nilan Mihindukulasooriya accepts his award for 'South Australia's 40 Under 40 List'.
A Business Leader's Journey and 
His Top Tips For Startups 
LOVI emboldens entrepreneurs, both rookie and seasoned, with a certain confidence and strength. We were honoured to dress one such business leader, Nilan Mihindukulasooriya, whose hard work in the tech field saw him make it to 'South Australia's 40 Under 40 List'. In this special LOVI Club interview, Nilan discusses how his work bridged the gap in the market and his advice for building a startup. 
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Nilan and his wife, Savini.
Congratulations on your award. How did it feel to be recognized for all your hard work? 
N: It felt amazing. I had a slight suspicion and when I finally won, it was a great moment for myself and the entire team. The fact I was wearing something beautiful which represented my country made it even better. 
What made you choose LOVI?
N: My wife and my brothers were talking about getting LOVI outfits for this upcoming wedding. We checked out designs and had an amazing experience at the LOVI outlet with Asanka and Jerry. It was a no brainer that this same outfit needed to be in the 40 under 40 awards ceremony––it made winning that much better. 
Could you explain what Firehouse Technology is and how it came about?   
N: My partner Nisal and I have known each other for 20 years and we tried many different business ideas but failed. In 2017 we both quit our jobs as software engineers and started Firehouse Technology. Our purpose was to create and implement digital transformation strategies so that clients could improve their business operations and customer experiences.
Three years ago I moved to Adelaide and despite the bumps, we survived because we were relentless in our pursuit. Grant, our new partner joined us and since then it’s been a tremendous journey of learning, failing, growing, and sometimes winning.
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With Australian business partner, Grant Baker.
How has the platform developed in the last 2 years?
N: We had a discussion on how SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) could survive COVID. The big businesses had their own marketing teams and data scientists that gave great insights and personalized all communications to individual customers. SMEs didn’t have the knowledge or the money to do any of that so we created where they could enjoy these services for a fraction of the cost. It was a big R&D effort and would have been impossible to pull off without the team.
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Firehouse Technology's Australian offices.
What do you see as the greatest challenge SMEs are going to face in the upcoming years? 
N:  Most industries are going to reflect on what we call the “power-law distribution” where the dominant player in an industry will take over 50% of the market share and all others combined will take the rest (e.g. Amazon in retail, Google in search engines). So, SMEs need to find their own niche to operate in whilst observing the giant’s behavior.
What Uber Eats and their dark kitchens (restaurants with no front end) did to small restaurants is a good example of changing SME landscape: it created opportunities by moving them into a much bigger online market. You just have to understand the opportunity in the challenge and be agile in operation. 
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With the Australian team.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs like yourself who wish to create their own tech platforms? 
N: Freaking go for it. Creating a startup is not easy but there are so many wireframes, prototyping, and design tools out there that you can leverage. Sri Lanka needs a culture of startups.
Here’s what I learned:
  1. Find a great partner who compliments your skill set (sales and tech skills being primary). It’s a hard, lonely journey and you'll have to depend on each other a lot.
  2. Your idea just needs to be good enough. It will never be the thing that you’ll end up doing. Get market feedback and adjust quickly.
  3. Do what your tech platform does with almost no tech and see if there's a market need for it. This is your minimum viable product (MVP). If it takes more than a month to build your MVP, then you're doing it wrong.
  4. Build things for a client. The client can even be yourself, in which case would you use what you're building?
  5. Don’t scale your company until you find product market fit. Creating a company and creating something that people will pay for are two different things.
  6. You have one goal: Building a product that your customers love and will tell their friends about. That’s it.
What are your future plans for the company and beyond? 
N: I believe the saying goes: if your plans don’t scare you, they're not big enough. We now have few organizations serving different spaces in Colombo, Adelaide and Dublin––they're in their infancy but we want them to grow as their own giants. As an example, Firehouse Technology is working towards becoming both bigger and better than Virtusa. While I understand that this is an audacious goal for a team of just 60 people, I have no doubt that we can get there. 
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Firehouse Technology's Sri Lankan team.

Thank you so much for being a part of everything we do.

speak soon.