INNOVATION BORNE OUT OF THIRST TO INSPIRE – CO-FOUNDER & CEO OF VELARIS, DILANKA KALUTOTA & CO-FOUNDER & COO OF VELARIS, JOSÉ FERNÁNDEZ-CASTAÑO

A tech enthusiast turned entrepreneur creating a name in the B2B SaaS industry, Dilanka Kalutota, CEO and Co- Founder of Velaris, shares his desire to innovate and inspire.

Roots deep-seated in Sri Lanka, Dilanka has been living in the UK for the past 16 years with an academic background in Software Engineering. “I was always a software developer at heart. But obviously, I moved into so many different roles within the technology sector,” states Dilanka. He was involved in project management, program management, consulting and even leading consulting teams across various projects. He has also been part of the leadership in prominent SaaS companies and Startups, which allowed him to experience scaleups and even acquisitions. During his tenure at Exponea, he joined quite a small team which was then grown to a team of 300 with a valuation of around USD 200 million. It was then acquired by ‘Bloomreach’, a MarTech Giant, “We were a part of a few big stories, and now we wanted to create our own story.”

Dilanka believes that the company’s culture sets the organization’s tone and paves the way to success: “I, as a person who has been involved in a lot of tech startups and scale-ups personally believe that culture is a crucial part.” Most successful startups are creating waves in the industry due to the culture that they built within the organization. “We believe, great businesses are all about great people, and great people are  all about making sure that you hire the right people into your crew,” he said. This gives an insight into Velaris’ principles that shapes the organization. Another aspect that inspired Dilanka to pursue this venture has been to have a link to his motherland – Sri Lanka, “For me personally, it’s about having a link to Sri Lanka and making sure to inspire the young, homegrown talent.”

Velaris is a B2B SaaS business that provides services to the business. The client’s workforce is driven by ‘solutions’ provided by Velaris, “It’s like a sales force to the customer service manager.” As a service-oriented company, they optimized in retaining their clients for the long term, “Our landing mechanism is providing or enabling Customer Success functions, Customer Success teams within B2B SaaS businesses.

Co-Founder & COO, José Fernández-Castaño had a thought to share with the readers, “Understanding this economic landscape, Customer Success teams are uniquely positioned to help their companies weather the downturn through retention and expansion of existing revenues. We’re thrilled to now enable CS teams with a truly innovative and game changing solution. With Octopus Ventures’ belief in Velaris, we’re able to democratize customer experience data and empower CS teams to have a greater impact across the company.”

The team spirit has been a driving force behind Velaris’ thirst to succeed, Shayne Darren the Tech Lead of the company commented, “AWS primarily hosts our  product. We have a flexible stack with high-performing analytical services enabling flexible near real-time querying on various types of datasets. The product will be utilizing NLP (Natural Language Processing) and Predictive (AI/ML)  algorithms to extract early  signals enabling actionable insights.”

As the CEO of Velaris amidst this economic crisis, Dilanka focused on retention just as many other leaders in the industry. “Acquiring a customer in a SaaS business, with a CAC to LTV ratio around 4:1 and growing. As in, after you acquire a customer, it takes at least 15-18 months to gain the cost of that customer,” he stated. Customer Acquisition Costs are quite expensive in B2B SaaS businesses therefore retention of customers during the pandemic has been of utmost importance in many thriving organizations

Dilanka had some insight that he wished to share about the upcoming months and its capacity to raise money, “In 2022, for the rest of the year and 2023, most of the venture capital money will not go into new businesses. I think that around 80% of the venture capital money would go into backing up the existing portfolio companies.”

On a concluding note, Dilanka  reiterates  the statement that every innovation and  success  story had humble origins. “The innovation, the big stories. All those things come from the humblest origins. You think about the best mathematician in the world, think about the best physicians in the world, and  think about the best startup gurus in the world, most of them have very humble beginnings,” reminds Dilanka.

Dilanka wants to inspire every Sri Lankan that understand the message “nothing is unattainable”. Passion woven with grit followed by dedicated perseverance is the recipe to attain  success.  He states that failing is a step in the learning process and failing fast is a FastTrack path to learn fast, “Fail fast, because then you learn fast.

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