Dhanushka Fernando is the Founder/CEO of Finez and has been an entrepreneur for over 10 years. His decision to become an entrepreneur was inspired by his sense to be independent and also to give back to the country, and followed his passion – venturing into the field of marketing and advertising, and continues to be a successful pioneer in that industry. It was 5 years ago, that he took the reins on the family business that was rebranded as Finez. Dhanushka felt that it was necessary to restructure and rebrand the family business after taking the time to understand the market and update it to where it needs to be to ensure maximum profitability and longevity.
Hailing from Moratuwa, the world of furniture and interior was not new to Dhanushka, and he found that his background in marketing and communications only complimented his new venture – Finez. In 2016 he set up a fully-fledged factory out of Colombo, which is equipped to produce high-quality products, and following this, Dhanushka opened a concept store in Nugegoda, which exclusively features their product line. In his words, “It’s been a journey of learning and unlearning”, but it was clear that he is happy to lead the family business, and is motivated to constantly innovate as he believes that it is essential to always do something novel when operating in the competitive and established business of manufacturing furniture and designing interiors.
Realizing that not many furniture companies had a social media presence, as a marketeer, Dhanushka saw the opportunity in this void in the market. He is excited by the many ways he could amalgamate his two areas of business and feels that the pandemic has helped accelerate this. Dhanushka stated that he was content to able to cultivate a strong social media presence for his business as online platforms have picked up heavily in the wake of the pandemic. Consumer purchasing patterns have changed, with people being more comfortable making transactions online, which has positively impacted the sales of Finez as they had the technology to adapt to the changes that came with the pandemic. Consumer behavior has changed for the better, but Dhanushka and his team have taken the necessary precautions as instructed by the government, understanding that it is important to collectively support each other.
Dhanushka said that they have been fortunate enough to not have many setbacks during these uncertain times, as they’ve had consistent sales – enabling them to take care of their employees. Regardless, Dhanushka highlighted that it is important to strengthen the business model by cutting down on costs, with measures to ensure that they are prepared for tougher times and for the well-being of their team and employees despite challenges.
Given the import restrictions, Dhanushka shared with us that sourcing raw materials have been a challenge, and they have had to purchase certain raw materials in bulk to avoid facing any roadblocks during the manufacturing process. While timber is available locally, the price of timber has increased. Regardless, Dhanushka and his team strive to maintain regular prices without sharing the burden with their customers, as they understand that profit isn’t everything when it comes to business. Another challenge has been ensuring that operations continue in a safe environment as they provide island-wide delivery, and conduct many site visits, but Dhanushka reiterated that they’ve taken necessary precautions and health guidelines to stay safe.
Innovation is essential to maintain steady and continuous growth. You can’t be complacent when it comes to business, but you also need balance and it’s important to empower people – especially your team. Dhanushka is passionate about empowering his team and feels fortunate that they share his values and vision – The team is the company’s greatest strength. He further stated that it is important to constantly create a need in the market for their products and understand what the consumers’ preferences are and how they are changing so they can cater to those demands.
Talking about what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur, Dhanushka said it’s important to be passionate about your vision, about making a difference, and creating value. He said that it’s unfortunate that in Sri Lanka, the macro environment isn’t conducive for entrepreneurs as there are many hurdles in terms of government regulations and red tape. It is also important to be humble and not give up as there is no easy way through the journey of entrepreneurship, and it’s important to have a fallback plan – always have a plan B. Constantly read and update your knowledge as you can’t always rely on the job experience. He added that having a good support system and someone who believes in you is important.
Speaking about the future, Dhanushka wants to go beyond furniture and interior and venture into other areas such as construction, real estate, and property. He also intends to expand on the e-commerce side of the business, and eventually grow into a household name. “There is always room at the top, and you can reach it the right way.”