When last we spoke to Malinda and Kalana Muthumuni, the duo behind Urban.lk, they shared an optimistic future for the company and the wider local eCommerce industry. Banking on the confidence in their approach, Urban.lk recently grew its leadership board with three new notable additions. So, what does this mean for the company and its direction forward in the Lankan eCommerce space?
The promising potential of Sri Lankan eCommerce
The eCommerce industry in Sri Lanka has grown significantly over the past few years. By 2022, analysts expect the eCommerce industry to hit $400 million in sales. Today, COVID-19 has massively impacted many industries, particularly the eCommerce sector. Even though the initial lockdown phase back in the April-May period had challenged the industry, eCommerce has been growing in Sri Lanka regardless. In doing so, it opens up new channels that allow entire industries and communities to access new channels of reaching consumers.
Sharing their own experiences at Urban.lk, Kalana also believes in this optimistic view of the industry. The COVID-19 pandemic presented many challenges early on for the company. Particularly during the first lockdown in early 2020. At the time, the focus was to keep operations afloat amidst restricted movement across the country while delivering necessities to customers. Thankfully, Urban was fully operational by the time the first lockdown ended. “So, we at Urban.lk were fully prepared for the 2nd lockdown”, states Kalana.
Having now overcome many challenges during the pandemic, Kalana sees a promising future for Urban.lk. Adamant about making the name a renowned brand in the Lankan eCommerce market, Urban.lk recently expanded its leadership team to seize the opportunities ahead.
The New Ranks Joining Urban.lk
Having begun his career as an investment banker, Lakshan De Silva went onto be a hedge fund analyst in New York, before joining a Singapore-based fintech company. He would go onto be the Co-Founder and CEO of iLoan, a fintech company harnessing the power of blockchain to make financing more accessible to SMEs. Bringing his experience in the finance industry and as a startup founder to the table, Lakshan will be assisting Urban.lk with finance and strategy.
Another recent addition to Urban.lk’s leadership team brings seven years of experience as an engineer and consultant to the table. Manujith Pallewatte’s career began as a software engineer. Two years ago, he co-founded Avantrio, a startup that delivers AI/ML and blockchain solutions to SMEs worldwide. As part of Urban.lk, will guide the company in navigating the technical challenges it would face in building a unique eCommerce experience. In his own words, “Strategizing the use of cutting edge technologies for increasing the efficiency of the overall operation while opening possibilities for future expansions is where I focus on.”
After a long stint at WSO2 in product development, Dulitha Wijewantha went onto build 2 startups. The first is Cabbage Apps, a software development company for SMEs and then later Alakazam, which automates digital marketing for SMEs. Over the course of his career, Dulitha has built a unique skill set specializing in marketing and technology. As one of Urban.lk’s new directors, his experience helps the company in understanding what technical adoptions to take on and what marketing strategies to follow.
Surviving and thriving through a pandemic
Looking ahead, the future looks bright for the Sri Lankan eCommerce industry. Manujith adds that COVID-19 has fueled a huge boom in local eCommerce. He goes on to mention that people are now more comfortable with digital solutions that make life easier. The fact that a lot of us have gotten used to ordering groceries online bears testament to this fact.
After all, eCommerce is a competing alternative to traditional commerce. As Dulitha mentions, “More and more consumers will switch in for e-commerce stores as more goods become available online, delivery infrastructure improves, and more people switch into digital payments”. Lakshan, on the other hand, believes that the eCommerce space in Sri Lanka is still in its infancy and will enjoy exponential growth in the coming years.
Seeing the opportunities ahead, Urban.lk is determined to make itself a renowned name in the Lankan eCommerce industry. That means not just building a platform where you can buy goods online, but one that empowers local communities. The latest addition to the Urban.lk website, a dedicated space for local artists to commercialize their work is a testament to this vision. Still, Kalana admits that this is merely just the first step of their ambitious expansion plans. In his own words, “We have a specific growth target in mind. I believe this new leadership is just what we need to reach our future goals.”