Gravitating among conquering minds both in business and in family, the two sons of the Chairman at the Trillium Group. captivate us with their entrepreneurial journey to success. The Trillium group is managed by Chairman Janaka Ratnayake who is one of the few entrepreneurs that have successfully managed private enterprises whilst handling many leading roles in the public sector. Sharing their narrative from brothers to business cohorts are Rachitha Ratnayake and Lekhya Ratnayake, from the Trillium Group.
Rachitha Ratnayake, the eldest son, serves as the Joint Managing Director at Trillium Property Management & Services Ltd. After graduating from the UK in Accounting and Finance, he returned to Sri Lanka with anticipation to contribute to their family business at the age of 20. Being instilled with an ardent interest to follow his father’s entrepreneurial footsteps from a very young age, Rachitha was firmly grounded on taking up the responsibility of the family legacy. Taking an audacious leap from being a university scholar to diving into the deeper end of the business, Rachitha declares that collaborating with the family trade does not seem to be as easy as others presume. He appends, “It’s not easy to work for yourself, you have no specific job role but you have to take ownership and responsibility for every angle of the business.
Bearing many responsibilities, Rachitha maintains that one must occupy their life with the keenness to accomplish endeavours. He refers to his father, who initiated a humble beginning, discovering his path towards success as Rachitha’s prototypical guidance to face challenges. “He pushes us whilst preparing us to take over one day when his guidance may no longer be available. We are the next generation, so we have to learn to figure things out on our own as we work in a very dynamic environment. It’s been seven years, and I continue to learn something new every day.”
Exploring the real estate industry for a while now, Rachitha compares the density of the sector, pre and post-Covid. “Before Covid, the market was saturated with many players. After Covid struck, many projects fell apart. They remained deferred, leaving an undersupply to cater to the demands and as my father states, opportunities arise during troubling times like this”, he states, whilst suggesting the present stretch of time to be the wisest period to engage in the real estate market. He confirms that customers vigorously pursue investment as a risk-free decision, even amidst a pandemic, securing them to hedge against currency exchange and inflations. “The most attractive and most important investment during times of economic distress is securing property, be it in the form of an apartment or house, regardless of price and size”, he comments, fascinated over the brisk sales that took place in the Trillium Havelock Residencies project, initiated in March 2021. Selling 80% of the total units within a short period, Rachitha assures customers to colonise more innovative solutions, especially amidst a global pandemic.
Being forerunners in the residential industry providing luxury living solutions for an ample period, Rachitha conveyed Trillium’s plans to expand in the residential market. He proudly shares the completion of a recent housing project in Nugegoda, ranging between 20-30 million. With the rising demands, Trillium will be launching its’ next project by January 2022. Also located in Colombo 5, he gauges the project to encompass 50 duplex apartments within five elevated floors. A first of its kind, they aim to set the benchmark in the Residential Real Estate space by developing the first duplex-only residential project in Sri Lanka. We aim to create value and a difference in every project and this will therefore stand as a testament to our vision for the future. Discussing other dimensions taken upon Trillium, Rachitha affirms the strategies implemented to tap on an untouched market of Retirees residencies, which is widely common in the western world. His views in this yet diluted market presume to be vital to address the rising demands of the ageing population. Rachitha understands that senior citizens must be given a positive outlook of life, independence and luxury, attaining the best of both worlds.
Co-working with his younger brother, a recent addition to the family business, Rachitha vigorously affirms that each contributing member must locate their key strengths and help collaboratively mould the family business. “My speciality is sales, marketing and operations,” he says while emphasizing the importance of discovering one’s fundamental interest within the company. “Lekhya joined us recently, so he’s been given a chance to try different areas out to find his niche. He seems to be fervent about construction. This is good as understanding each person’s strengths and giving them the freedom to move forward within a family is important.”
Lekhya Ratnayake, the Executive Director at Trillium., is likewise a graduate in a similar discipline from Loughborough University, UK and joined the company at the age of 21. Engraving deeper meaning into the business, Lekhya understands that accounting has grounded a firm context to his entrepreneurial journey. Being a newly joined member at Trillium, he appreciates the company’s diverse areas taken into adaptation. “Within five years, we diversified into commercial properties, hospitality properties, IT, blockchain technology and even crypto-currencies,” he adds while elaborating the areas available for his professional enhancement. Although still on the verge of ascertaining the precise path, Lekhya finds interest in construction and hopes to be well-versed in those domains, considering the approach in the most literal methods.
Opinionated on the driving factors on real estate, Lekhya mentions that one of success factors is their ability to acquire properties at the right address at excellent prices. “Our focus is on the niche market ranging between 20-50 million. These price ranges contain realistic and sustainable demand, and we are focusing on that. The Havelock project, was initially priced at 25 million for a two-bedroom apartment and 35 million for a three-bedroom apartment, catered to the targeted market segment”, he asserts when clarifying their plan to accommodate their clients with ultimate benefits by providing value at affordable prices. Underlining the key selling point, which is the brand and quality preserved within Trillium developments, Lekhya appends, “We are a veteran developer providing high-end offerings at affordable prices. Our next project will also be in Colombo 5, will look to introduce the duplex apartment concept and adhere to our core values of providing affordable luxury.”
Elaborating on their future strategies to rebrand the hotel as a retirement residential property, Lekhya views ageing as an imperative subject to be considered. Adhering to their father’s budding idea for 15 years, Trillium has navigated its interest to create a purposeful facility to address the rising issues of the ageing population. Being an untouched niche market, Lekhya understands this can be a positive start for Trillium.
According to Lekhya, his personal preference for investments includes real estate, cryptocurrencies, and precious metals. Considering block-chain technology and crypto-currencies are trending topics in the market, they have multiplied their paths by engaging in crypto-currencies since January this year. Making good returns on their initial investment, Lekhya declares that trading returns are generally far better than the traditional investments. Yet, to enhance added value to the crate and gain the utmost benefit, they could initiate their own projects. So, instead of limiting NFTs to a crypto wallet, they strategized a method to involve crypto in monetizing the in-game economies of video games. “We partnered up with an interesting NFT project called the Solarians on the Solana block-chain and Motion Miracles a gaming studio in Sri Lanka in April, and decided to build a whole Gaming focused Metaverse called “Rumble Worlds”. Right now it consists of 40 partner projects with a total cumulative reach of roughly over 100 thousand members”, he continues, “Basically we are giving all the Solana based NFT holders an added layer of sustainable utility, in the form of Gaming. They can use their NFTs as an In-game character within this Metaverse. This will give extra value to all the partnered NFT projects, and the NFT eco-system”.
The Ratnayake brothers while awaiting their sister, Kruthya to join the business, conclude their accounts praising their time and experience at Trillium working as a family unit. Rachitha appreciates the straightforward and transparent attitude cultivated by his father. “In our business, we look to identify what is needed and go out there and get it, cutting out all the blurred lines. So we try to be robotic with decisions and think of it logically”, he states. He also mentions the strict adherence to the boss-employee relationship during work to avoid any indemnities. “At work, we follow clear cut guidelines and procedures, and that’s how it should be in any family business”.
Lekhya is captivated by his father’s perseverance. He declares, “When working for yourself, you must understand every angle. You should have a clear-cut understanding of every aspect. In the end, how many hours you contribute will be translated into results.”
Prided by their father’s success and contribution to their family business, Rachitha and Lekhya honour their responsibilities and the accountability attached to their actions. They believe that a family business can easily collapse with a careless gesture of maintaining informalities within the industry. Therefore, maintaining a candid commitment toward the family business, both siblings contribute their most refined aptitudes to preserve and continue their family legacy as pioneers in the real estate industry.