Transitioning from a tech-obsessed youngster to a successful tech entrepreneur in the rapidly evolving IT industry, Rangana Samarasinghe, Founder of Insharp technologies LLC, USA and Founder/CEO Insharp Technologies (Pvt) Ltd, Sri Lanka shares his tale of success.
Having done his schooling at President College – Maharagama, he was later transferred into D.S. Senanayaka College, upon passing and excelling in the scholarship examinations. A period in Rangana’s life where he too felt the vigour of youth. After the completion of the Advanced levels, Rangana was selected into the University of Jaywardanapura, faculty of Applied Science. It was during these years of growth that his entrepreneurial intentions sprouted, making him yearn to mark his presence in the league of tech entrepreneurs.
As software engineering courses were not quite prominent during the initial period, Rangana followed his courses as a side-line activity, while pursuing his BSc, which lacked the same level of enthusiasm he had for software engineering. The business was what occupied Rangana’s life for a long time, before decided on pursuing an MBA from the Cardiff Metropolitan to further his educational qualifications. “This changed my problem-solving approach and converted me into a person with strategic thinking and a strong ability to face challenges differently. It
motivated me to do my doctorate studies at the University of Kelaniya, where I am currently a visiting lecturer” Rangana elaborates.
Coming from a family background where the majority works in the health sector, Rangana was always asked, “what are your future plans? Are you going to be a typist?”. He was constantly bombarded with various forms of questions from his father and the rest of his circle. He believes that it took a lot of convincing on Rangana’s part, to get a computer as it used to be quite a luxurious commodity in the early years of his life. Like every other kid, Rangana states, “We played games but I also wanted to do something more and develop things using Visual Basic.” However, no amount of courage gave him the thoughts to conquer his father’s questioning, “What are you going to do with these?” Fortunately, there were jobs in the market that focused on software engineering, right around the time he concluded his degree. For starters, Rangana was selected to Sampath Bank IT division as Web Designer. “I am thankful to my bosses, Mr. Narangoda, Pasan Manukith, Dushatha Dassanayaka for selecting me, as that’s where my computer career sprouted from.” This was Rangana’s turning point in life, where his sincere hobby twisted into reality. He was then approached by his team leaders who suggested that he is better at governing the coding
responsibilities as well. Upon the acceptance of these responsibilities, Rangana was given an accessible avenue to perfect his skills in coding at a professional level. His tenure at Sampath Bank lasted for two and half years before he considered moving solely for the sake of learning and growing into a fully-fledged IT specialist. “The culture is good, we have facilities and
life is good too. But then again, that was not my intention, I wanted to explore more in the software field.” Moving on, he was offered a job at a Swedish software company, “it was sort of a paradigm shift, culturally and socially, and the working environment too was different”. Yet he strived through and adapted himself to learn the utmost during his time there. It was around this time when a small-scaled UK-based company invited him to join them as the team lead, which he accepted wholeheartedly because Rangana believed that he would be able to learn and expand both academically and professionally. “I wanted to learn the ins and outs of the software industry. So, I moved there as the youngest team leader at that time.” His passion for the trade led him to complete a project that was delayed for 2 years, within a short after the submission of the project, Rangana had a major setback in his career as the company chose to close down operations in Sri Lanka by the end of the year. It was during this bleak point in his life that he found a voice of confidence. Rangana’s wife, Neoshine, encouraged him to initiate his own company and indulge in his passion. “A few hours after receiving those words of encouragement, I started to design my logo, and find a name. Within 3 days I went and registered my company, and got the domain.” Soon after receiving his first project through a friend, Damitha Jayarathne, Rangana initiated his journey with two interns; Sachith Batapola Arachchi and Supun Kanishka who started off at a very low pay, entirely for generous support. Currently, both of these individuals function as two of the senior staff at Insharp.
“We didn’t have an office so we moved my study room and converted it into a small office. We had two tables and I worked on the bed. That was Insharp’s humble beginning’’
Currently, Insharp has grown to cater to a worldwide clientele from Australia, USA, Kuwait, and Switzerland, with offices in Sri Lanka and the great New York City. It comprises 40+ staff at the moment along with a few subsidiaries for digital marketing and other areas; BIZMO Technology, C Suite HR for Strategic HR products, etc.
Diverging his thoughts towards the ethos and characteristics that brought Rangana to where he is today, he believes that perseverance is an attribute that is crucial for any entrepreneur to overcome the hurdles that come their way. The sales cycle usually lasts a minimum of many months in the technology industry and that itself takes a healthy amount of perseverance to get through. “Our journey is not a straight line, when you have a small incline, you will have a huge decline. But you cannot show it because you need to have a motivated team behind you, that can force you to the next level,” He is a leader who understands the essence of teamwork behind every success.
“You may have powerful machines, powerful computers, and branded devices but if you don’t have a particularly skilled brain in front of it, you are out of business”. Rangana believes that understanding the customer’s perspective and needs is important in building a good rapport with them in the long run, unlike most companies that focus on just mitigating risks and increasing profit. Insharp’s first client left Rangana with some words of encouragement that altered an impactful change in the core values of the company. His client’s words prior to the project stated, “I am a mixed Sri Lankan and you are a Sri Lankan. If you lose this, it would be a black mark on your company, your brand name, and also to Sri Lanka. So, keep that in mind.” However, after the first release, Insharp was applauded over their undefeatable results, praising Sri Lankan talents. This has always been a memorable memory for Rangana and the Insharp team, reminding the importance of good rapport among clients.
Twelve years in the industry, Rangana states emphatically the significance of ‘integrity’ as a software company within the field of technology. Worldwide clients bring about two different laws to abide; s a high level of personal data and unique ideas. Beyond the NDAs that are signed, there is a need for integrity to be at its core. “I have my US partner – Thikshan Arulampalam who I’ve been working with for more than 8 years yet we don’t have an agreement nor any conflicts” Insharp maintains an edge over the other competitors of the west, as it is quite expensive for the client to receive a parallel version of the same software services elsewhere. This in turn works positively for the country by bringing in more dollars. But, in order to stand out from the crowd, a company is required to offer a wholesome customer experience, throughout their relationship with their customers; from pre to post services. Insharp, having been in this industry for 12 years, comprehends the importance of step-by-step services like “business analysis, user interface designing, coding, Q/A, user experiencing enhancement, feature enhancement, support services, etc…”
Rangana states that Insharp is no longer a company exclusive to Sri Lanka but to the whole world. “No longer do we consider our company as a Sri Lankan company; we are a Sri Lankan born global company that makes dollars for the country”. Insharp has planned to spread its wings of operations through offices in USA, Dubai, and Australia, possessing an uplifting culture where the client can walk into the office, have a coffee and discuss what they require. “At the same time, we are involved in connecting Bangladesh and Vietnam which at Insharp we call it – Connecting Brotherhood for Sourcing.” Even though Sri Lanka is their main high priority, Rangana views the current economic crisis as an affecting source to most companies. However, with the help of ‘Connecting Brotherhood for Sourcing’, he believes that the balanced resources can be procured thereby making Insharp a global collaboration.
“From the customer perspective, we come to your doorstep with these services as we have country-wise operations and we don’t have sourcing problems as we have sourcing destinations”
As a company generating dollars for the country since 2010, Rangana always motivates his team by telling them, “You are heroes” for contributing to a bigger cause in their own way. “We started small in a room and now we are generating dollars for the country from day one and we are quite proud of that as Insharpers, thankful for my team, my force, the force behind our success. Insharp is about our team, not only me but it’s about teamwork.”
Rangana is a visiting lecturer at the University of Kelaniya and other universities for software engineering courses, and a curious question that he always asks his students, “When I start my lectures, I insist that my students send me the answers to this question through chits. The question is; ‘Imagine that you are in a world where money doesn’t have value. If you want something, the government provides it. If you want a BMW or basically anything you want, the government would give it to you. But there is one rule – You have to do a job to spend your life. What would you select in that kind of world?’”. For the whole duration of 4-5 years of lecturing software engineering, Rangana states that he has only received 3 chits with the answer ‘Software Engineer’, with most of them being rare ones like – hiking, teaching horse riding, etc. He truly believes that that question gets his students to think outside the box, peeling out a different layer of confidence.
“As a lecturer, I would like to tell the youngsters to follow their dreams and if possible, to convert their dreams into a job. It is bound to make you successful. Money will come to you because you can be an expert in that field. The majority of the people are dedicating their total life to something that they are not passionate about just for the money” Rangana believes that to be an entrepreneur one has to be passionate and willing to strive towards it. And this is bound to be the recipe for ultimate success !