Mitra Innovation’s Dammika Ganegama, Co-Founder and Managing Director for the APAC region, and Ashok Suppiah, Chairman and Group Chief Executive, share their insights into building a successful, global tech business out of Sri Lanka by nurturing talent and innovation, adding value for clients and spearheading growth. They begin by telling us about Mitra Innovation and how the company is making a difference.
Mitra Innovation is a cloud-focused software enterprise that partners with companies worldwide to provide the best technological advantage to the widest audience. We specialize in hyperscale cloud solutions with the right resources and specialist experience and with minimal risk. Our security-first ethos ensures innovative, resilient solutions that enable growth and customer engagement. We emphasize the importance of people, investing in top talent and leadership, to maintain vision and value. With constant innovation, we avoid complacency and encourage a progressive mindset. By adopting repeatable and predicted delivery methodologies, with future technology solutions, we build value and deliver growth as part of our DNA.
What are the challenges confronting the tech industry today, and how are you dealing with these and unlocking opportunities?
The tech industry, both in Sri Lanka and globally, faces numerous challenges one of the key challenges, being the skills gap. Mitra proactively invests in quality education and training programs, collaborating with universities, industry and government to bridge this gap. We employ continuous learning, leadership development and regular skill updates for all our people to help meet global demands.
Another challenge is infrastructure and connectivity, both are crucial for globally distributed effective collaboration, so another focus for us is advocating for improving broadband penetration and digital infrastructure and fostering public-private partnerships to develop and maintain robust digital ecosystems.
We also recognize the increased need for agile regulatory frameworks, so we engage with industry experts and stakeholders to shape appropriate regulations that facilitate innovation, while also protecting consumer rights and ensuring the highest levels of cybersecurity.
Addressing cybersecurity and privacy concerns is another priority for Mitra where we focus on building solid cybersecurity measures into our solutions from inception, investing in robust infrastructure, conducting regular audits, and promoting awareness of data protection best practices.
Market access and global competition pose other challenges, especially for startups. Mitra Ventures, a part of the Mitra Group supports tech firms through incentives for international expansion, facilitating market access through trade agreements and establishing solid collaborations between local and global tech ecosystems.
Encouraging innovation is a core focus for Mitra. We nurture a vibrant startup ecosystem through incubation programs and investment arms. Collaboration between industry and academia drives research and development, bridging the gap between theoretical and practical skills.
Embracing cloud solutions as part of digital transformation is crucial for unlocking opportunities. We also cross-pollinate industries with digital technologies, business workflow automation, analytics and open platforms, increasing productivity and creating new digital services. Mitra promotes diversity and inclusion in the tech industry, monitoring gender diversity, pay parity and investing in platforms that support ESG initiatives.
By addressing these challenges and leveraging opportunities, Mitra Innovation contributes to the thriving tech industry in Sri Lanka and globally. Mitra’s unshakable commitment to research, innovation, and our desire to always exceed expectations, ensures ongoing success, even in challenging times.
What is the secret behind the company’s success? How do you build a successful tech company out of Sri Lanka?
The secret behind Mitra Innovation’s success lies in several key factors. Firstly, we handpick talent and constantly mentor and empower our teams to excel. We treat our people, our clients and our stakeholders with care and respect, recognizing their incredibly valuable contribution to the business. We treat them as our partners.
We facilitate the development of expertise and a consultancy mindset among all team members, encouraging them to be value-creating partners and driving positive transformation among colleagues and client companies with an outcome-based approach.
The ability to fail fast and pivot is crucial for maintaining agility and delivering results, so we encourage quick decision-making and a nimble approach, allowing for swift changes when needed while analyzing and learning from setbacks.
Engineering rigour and packaging our experience as accelerators enable us to achieve faster time-to-market with secure, high-quality data and applications. We have a zero-tolerance mindset, with constant analysis of everything we produce and leveraging tools to increase predictability.
Taking calculated risks is also part of our success. We are keen to invest in new product ideas, domains, partnerships and regional expansion, always researching and assessing the potential return on investment.
Constant communication and networking play a vital role in our achievements, ensuring clear, unambiguous messaging for internal teams, clients and the public. Building relationships is highly valued, as we gain new ideas and insights for improvements to our business and our methodologies.
Mitra believes in challenging the status quo. We believe that Sri Lankan companies can compete and succeed in the global arena. Through these strategies and a commitment to excellence, we have built a successful tech company in Sri Lanka, creating a positive transformation in the industry.
What is your approach to acquiring and retaining talent and motivating teams?
We believe that motivation goes beyond monetary incentives. From the hiring process, we are dedicated to building and enhancing the skills of our talent, empowering them to stand out in the industry. We provide learning opportunities and exposure through both internal and client projects, enabling individuals to build a strong foundation for their careers.
Respect is a core value at Mitra, and we possess a comprehensive “Hire to Retire” programme which includes upskilling, creating opportunities, providing feedback and supporting employees through training and mentorship. Personal development plans are designed to enhance soft skills, leadership qualities and client-facing skills, alongside technology and innovation initiatives.
We empower people by giving them autonomy and a structured path for growth and increased responsibility, prioritizing employee well-being and care and offering programmes that support not only individuals but also their partners and families. Creating a fresh, pleasant and friendly work environment is essential to us. We have invested in modern office spaces, gyms and recreational activities such as gaming, pool and many more. We have built an inclusive culture and helped our people establish a healthy work-life balance. We believe in “Working hHard and Playing Hard!”
Sustainability and social impact are increasingly important to people and businesses. How is Mitra Innovation driving positive outcomes in these spheres?
We have built a comprehensive ecosystem in Sri Lanka that unleashes the power of technology for positive change. For instance, we have several programmes that target skills development and diversity, equity and inclusion in the tech industry. Our commitment extends to rural areas, where we run an Inspire program, which offers a training course followed by an internship and educational support by covering university fees and providing career development opportunities in a safe environment free from discrimination of all forms. Giving back to society is an integral part of our ethos. On the sustainability front, we have established a separate business focused solely on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) initiatives. www.experienz.co.uk.
Our mission is to assist large organizations worldwide, including those in Sri Lanka, in advancing their sustainability goals, including achieving netzero emissions, reducing their carbon footprint, minimizing waste, conserving water and promoting diversity and inclusivity. We align our governance practices with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and other recognized standards. To this end, we have created experienz. Based in Sri Lanka, our team is actively developing a robust technology platform that empowers companies to make positive, meaningful changes to their environmental impact.
Our primary objective is to support organizations in implementing sustainable practices across their operations, and that involves optimizing business processes, enhancing employee well-being and offering sustainable transportation solutions to employees and customers. We believe that every small step contributes to reducing carbon emissions. For instance, in the sports industry and events, we analyze the pollution caused by vehicle influx and the use of plastic bottles. While some stadiums have transitioned to using metal bottles and water refill stations, plastic usage remains prevalent. By collaborating with organizations like the Silverstone British Grand Prix, we actively work to transform their ecosystems. They have already integrated solar panels into their track, generating sustainable energy and Hilton has built a new hotel by the track using reusable materials. However, challenges persist, particularly in addressing carbon emissions from vehicles and suppliers involved in such events. Our technology empowers customers to identify and drive positive sustainability changes by collaborating with their suppliers and we hope to extend our solutions to Lords, Oval, Wimbledon Tennis Championships, and Royal Ascot.
Our focus is on technology rather than manufacturing. We enable companies to embrace sustainability internally and externally through our technology solutions. By capturing and analyzing data, we provide valuable insights for monitoring progress, assessing impact and making informed decisions. This data-driven approach ensures that ESG strategies in annual reports translate into meaningful outcomes.
In conclusion, our platform, experience, offers valuable insights and encourages conscious decision-making for organizations to achieve their sustainability objectives. As ESG ambassadors, we raise awareness and promote education on sustainability in Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom. As part of SLASSCOM, we are educating Sri Lankan corporates to embrace ESG. They can start now, start small and unleash a world of possibilities while getting ahead of the game globally. Partnerships with prestigious sporting events and venues, like the British Grand Prix, allow us to collaborate with sports celebrities and leverage their influence for positive change. By raising the banner of sustainability, we collectively amplify its importance for today and all our tomorrows