Last row (standing from left): Sara Nazoor, Aisha Wahab, Surangi Perera, Tiza De Vas, Oenone Mills, Mushida Hussain, Zainab Miskin, Bhagya Iddamalgoda Second row (seated): Shameema Shajahan, Rumaiza Refai, Sasmini Bandara, Safiya Sideek, Brindha Selvadurai Gnanam, Ranmali Wickramasinghe, Savanthi Weerakone First row (seated): Nadeesha Paulis, Naffiah Saleem, Randhula de Silva, Nima Faiz, Fazla Razak
Despite the current uncertainties we have managed to successfully complete the fourth iteration of KICKASS Bootcamp, empowering a whole new batch of future women leaders in business. Series 4 of the KICKASS Bootcamp was conducted in partnership with LSEG (London Stock Exchange Group) Sri Lanka and TNL Radio and was facilitated by Naomi Gunnels, Entrepreneur Coach at Hatch based out of Florida, USA. Hatch was well-supported by its partners and the facilitator in order to empower these future women leaders.
The incubation program which was first introduced in March, is specifically designed for women to gear up in both fundamental business development skills as well as gender-specific elements faced by women in business which are often overlooked.
KICKASS Series 4 saw 12 startups, and 13 founders, take part in all its sessions, which were curated to address both product and service driven businesses and in order to accomplish this, it brought on women leaders from a vast array of industries, to cover a wide range of topics relevant to today’s business climate.
Naomi mentored the ladies on business plan and cash flow statements, marketing basics, and social media management; while both LSEG Technology Product Manager, Surveillance Erangi De Costa and LSEG Manager, Talent Acquisition Randima Perera spoke about ‘Leadership in Your Career and Business’ and on ‘Establishing the Right Hiring Culture’, respectively.
Commenting on this initiative, LSEG Sri Lanka Associate Manager – Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Sara Sadoon said, “Both locally and globally, LSEG continues to spearhead initiatives with a focus on gender equality, and female entrepreneurship and representation. As such, what we’ve seen as the biggest obstacle for these entrepreneurs is the lack of access to relevant knowledge and resources as well as communities and networks, which the KICKASS Bootcamp successfully addresses. We’re proud to have seen the success of Series 4, allowing the latest cohort of female business leaders to access the right tools, mentorship and exposure to propel them to be successful entrepreneurs.”
Other mentors included; Vidhya Ganesan from McKinsey & Company, who spoke on 30 second elevator pitches, helping the participants to explore the narrative of their businesses; Pyumi Sumanasekara, Principal – Family Business, Board Governance and Global Assurance at KPMG and Callishia Fernando, Consultant at KPMG, both of whom shared their understanding of financial statements and why they matter; Ranila Wijesundara, Legal Counsel for Capital Alliance Group, who spoke on registration of companies and the liabilities that emerge out of it; and Shana Dandeniya, Co-Founder of Cafe Kumbuk, who spoke on ‘How to Tell the Story of Your Brand’ and the marketing aspects for the startups.
Two of the workshops also hosted by Hatch’s very own Co-Founder, Brindha Selvadurai Gnanam, who spoke on negotiations and Director at Hatch, Randhula de Silva, who spoke on ‘Thriving in Crisis’. The founders also had the opportunity to learn from two KICKASS alumni, Naafiah Saleem from Plushboxlk and Tiza De Vas from DV+ Co. Architecture, who shared their experience and knowledge on contract and vendor negotiations. Hatch believes in strengthening and empowering its community of amazing female leaders and founders who are part of KICKASS in different ways, be it as an entrepreneur, alumni or as a mentor, and Series 4 brought all of their synergies together.
Hatch Director – Programs Randhula de Silva sharing her thoughts on the success of the KickAss Bootcamp said, “The significance in a program like KICKASS is the community that we are able to build and connect alongside creating knowledge. At a time where COVID-19 has taught us all that resilience is built by communities, working with these founders who empower each other every day was a truly rewarding experience. I’m happy to have successfully completed 4 cohorts of this series, building a legion of future business leaders and a sisterhood that has each other’s back.”
The participants for each series are selected out of a large pool of startups who applied and are both product and service based. Series 4 saw 12 startups take part in our workshops, with 10 of them being product based, while two were service based. These startups and founders included:
Miris by Islandmom – A startup founded by Shivani Anandavadivel that sells Naimiris sauce and jam and helps busy families prepare a delicious and spicy meal. The startup went on to redefine and categorise its audience into three groups post-KICKASS, and has built a comprehensive marketing strategy to reach them, while being more aggressive in driving the ‘Hot Sauce/Spicy Condiments’ market in Sri Lanka.
We Translate Ltd. – A reliable, accountable and convenient way for any individual or company seeking translation services to get their job done, with uniform and transparent rates, strict quality standards and a clearly communicated delivery timeline. Founder, Zahrah Imtiaz stated that through the workshops, she learnt the importance of creating and setting the right values and culture for a company from the start.
“Our mentors helped me realise that big or small, you need to let your employees and customers know what you stand for.”
Spark Bookkeeping – Founded by Roshanali Amarasekera, this startup addresses the gap in maintaining bookkeeping records that most companies suffer from, by introducing affordable monthly subscription packages to companies for their bookkeeping. When talking about KICKASS Series 4, she stated that she is not afraid to call herself an entrepreneur thanks to the mentors who changed her mindset.
Treasure Box (Gift Shop) – A startup with the aim of providing consumers with a variety of gift items that are customisable and include packing and delivery.
“Before I joined the bootcamp my online presence was only on Instagram! But now we are on Facebook too! The social media and marketing strategy has taken a whole different turn and I am super excited!” said Founder, Michelle Croos when talking about Series 4.
Oopsy Daisy Flowers – Based in Kollupitiya, this startup looks to disrupt Sri Lanka’s current floral industry, by introducing unusual collections which range from unique tropical flowers to fruits like rambutan and apples. According to the Founder, Hafsah Cader, the Bootcamp has helped her expand and grow her business, in terms of registering, sorting financial statements and creating a business plan.
Arundathi Yasok – Arundathi is a yoga instructor who aims to open the practice of yoga to a wider audience, by making her classes simpler and easier to follow for any fitness level. She stated that Series 4 helped her launch her classes on Teachable, a platform that creates and sells online courses and coaching; as well as starting a series of paid yoga classes.
Thoori.Store – A startup run by Thaura Thajendren that provides handcrafted, personalised jewels for men and women, while also creating jobs for women in the community. Thaura explained that at KICKASS, she got a clearer understanding of what her business is, how she can scale it up without being afraid and learnt how to create a marketing and branding strategy.
Ceylon Magpie – An interior design startup that sources the products they need from local suppliers. Both the Co-founders of Ceylon Magpie, Natalie Stork and Dinusha Gomes, took part in the program, and they stated that their burning question when they started the KICKASS Bootcamp was about getting the interior design aspect of their business across to their customers. They are currently working on some home makeover projects and changing their social media strategies to reach their potential markets.
The Vegan Kitchen by Sulo – A startup that fills the cravings of anyone looking for lactose free, egg free, plant-based products ranging from savouries to sweets. Founder, Sulochana Ubayakumara, stated that KICKASS helped her connect with aspiring women entrepreneurs and the tips and knowledge that she gained have already started to benefit her business, by helping her carry out her marketing and operational activities.
Krémeux (Cream Cheese) – Founder, Sivahaamy Vithyatharan, aims to provide homemade cream cheese, without any preservatives or harmful additives, for an extremely reasonable price; in order to bridge the current gap between the price of cream cheese and the consumer.
“The Bootcamp showed me the importance of analysis; i.e. on sales, customers and social media. It also assisted me to make wise decisions on frequency of raw material purchases, types of products to launch and posts for social media”, said Sivahaamy when speaking about the program.
Penelope – Amra Wazeer has introduced a new type of ragdoll to the Sri Lankan market, one that is of premium quality materials and are customised to the client’s requirement (the customer can choose the skin colour/features/clothes, etc., of the ragdoll). During the course of the program, Amra managed to identify her target market, and where most of her products can be sold. She also managed to hit 2,000 followers over the period of one month, by following simple strategies she learnt from KICKASS. “Another important thing I learnt was to keep track of money, I have started to maintain a cash flow and feel confident that I am able to manage my money well.”
Festive Eve – A startup that is looking to disrupt the current Sri Lankan wedding stationery market, which only supplies ready-made or semi-custom-made items with limited options and innovations; by offering a 100% personalised stationery suite for their clients that will stick to a client’s respective wedding mood board and colour palette. Founder, Shaima Hameed stated that the bootcamp helped her identify her target audience and realign her social media strategies.