:Different to support the growth and development of budding engineers in Sri Lanka

Thursday, 5 December 2019 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

:Different co-founder Ruwin Perera (left) with Head of Growth for :Different Australia Joel Pinkham


:Different, one of Australia’s hottest new startups, whose mandate is to rebuild property management, has made a commitment to support the growth and development of budding engineers in Sri Lanka.

:Different’s co-founder Ruwin Perera, a former Softbank Director and Google Global Business Strategy Principal, is determined to create an elite cohort of Sri Lankan engineers who will help establish Sri Lanka as a technology hub that produces world-class engineers. 

He also is on a mission to help build the next generation of Sri Lankan software engineers and tech companies. “The industry is crying out for a change and here at :Different it is all about creating, innovating and above all being different,” says Perera.

A few months ago, :Different reaffirmed its commitment to Sri Lanka by doubling down on its investment in the country through a multi-million dollar investment into its Colombo office, making senior personnel hires and moving key operational functions, including real-time customer management, customer experience, maintenance, and supplier relationships, to their Colombo office.

“We are looking at increasing our Sri Lankan cadre significantly, hence my presence here in Sri Lanka,” says Perera. “We have a wealth of talent here who need to be harnessed and given the appropriate training and opportunities, which will enable them to hold their own in any part of the world. The exposure they will receive by working at :Different, side by side with world class talent of the likes of Mina Radhakrishnan, co-founder of :Different, Joel Pinkham, Head of Growth for :Different Australia, Mathew Valley, Engineering Lead at :Different Australia, and others, will expand their horizons and give them a new insight and training into international tech developments.”

Being of Sri Lankan background himself, Perera is deeply passionate about supporting the growth and development of young engineers in Sri Lanka in the hope that they can one day create the next generation of Sri Lankan technology companies.

To help foster this elite cohort of Sri Lankan engineers, :Different plans to expose the community to world class talent within the :Different team, offering the valuable opportunity to work collaboratively with these top minds. 

One such talent is Uber’s former Global Head of Product, and :Different’s co-founder, Mina Radhakrishnan. Her strong knowledge and experience on Product (matched by only a handful globally) offers a wealth of opportunity for young engineers hoping to one day build their own companies or technology products. 

She’s currently a board advisor at AirTasker and has been actively involved with mentoring and advising teams on product questions big and small as a Product Management advisor at Cowboy Ventures (Silicon Valley), Entrepreneur in Residence at Redpoint Ventures (Silicon Valley), multiple startups, and as a mentor at 500 Startups. 

Another top talent that the engineering team in Colombo has access to is Joel Pinkham, currently travelling with Ruwin here in Sri Lanka. He has grown many companies to the next level of success, including the likes of RedBalloon, Uber and SafetyCulture.

Mathew Valley leads the engineering team for :Different Australia and has come from well-known Silicon Valley leader Autopilot where he has been involved in the design and development of multiple large-scale web and mobile software platforms.

Having come from high profile tech companies spanning Australia and the US, the :Different team are looking to Sri Lanka to foster the bright minds of the future and the next generation of tech. 

“University has its place, but it isn’t everything. Degrees and the like are great, but there is no substitute for learning from the world’s best. We are building the best engineering culture in Sri Lanka by ensuring exposure to world class talent that is simply unavailable anywhere else. We want to create the elite of the elite and the only way to do that is by having people work closely with the very best in the world,” says Perera.

Both Perera and Joel Pinkham are in Colombo to hire new engineers and spend time with the Sri Lankan Team. “We operate as one global team,” explains Perera, “there is a seamless connection between the Australian offices and the Colombo office, with people in Sri Lanka managing people in Australia, regular travel between the two countries, and smooth communication and cohesion between all staff members.”

It’s been a big year for the company with October seeing :Different expand into its third market, Brisbane, whilst also raising their second round of capital totaling $ 3.5 m AUD co-led by AirTree Ventures, one of Australia’s biggest venture capital funds, alongside highly regarded Australian real estate VC fund PieLAB. 

According to Perera, it all starts with updating technology. “Property management hasn’t changed in 50 years. People expect information to be available on the internet whenever they need it. There’s no reason property management shouldn’t work the same way. We built Different to do exactly that.”

By hiring experienced real estate professionals and arming them with cutting-edge technology, :Different offers better service at a lower price, with no compromises. 

Currently its services are available in three Australian capital cities, with greater expansion plans scoped for 2020 and beyond.