KAPRUKA.COM, GRASSHOPPERS AND JAVA LOUNGE
FOUNDER

Dulith
Herath

Dulith
Herath

KAPRUKA.COM, GRASSHOPPERS AND JAVA LOUNGE
FOUNDER

Dulith Herath is the founder and chairman of the immensely popular e-commerce site Kapruka.com. He wants to produce Sri Lanka’s first unicorn and is banking on his past successes to propel him towards that dream.

To date, Herath has founded or co-founded six companies. The foundations for each are straight forward; he focuses on keeping his businesses lightweight but highly effective. The aim is to bring to fruition an idea, achieve his goals through innovation, stabilise it and then move on to the next big challenge. Herath cannot emphasise enough the importance of staying focused on the bottom-line. He explains using Kapruka. com as his example.

“People ask me why I haven’t started selling TVs or other electronic gadgets. It takes a lot of discipline not to. But you don’t make enough money on that kind of model. It’s better for my bottom-line to sell a container of handbags with a 300% mark-up than stocks of expensive televisions that will go through a model change after a year.”

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“People ask me why I haven’t started selling TVs or other electronic gadgets. It takes a lot of discipline not to. But you don’t make enough money on that kind of model. It’s better for my bottom-line to sell a container of handbags with a 300% mark-up than stocks of expensive televisions that will go through a model change after a year.”

He points to other e-commerce sites which have chosen to open shopfronts and argues that the approach they’re taking isn’t anything for the digital age. “There’s no e-commerce there. Yes, your P&L will have transactions, but you won’t accomplish much.”

But without his own online mall selling these products, Herath soon realised he was missing out on contributing to the e-commerce landscape. His solution, as he puts it, was to marry the competition. He started Grasshoppers, which caters to the logistics needs of e-commerce. Its clients are mostly Kapruka’s rivals.

With 42 hubs and thousands of riders around the island, Grasshoppers was created to provide a very Sri Lankan approach to delivery, incorporating cash-on-delivery, which accounts for 80% of trade. Despite this, Herath is keen to point out that the company has only 27 full-time employees. “I don’t even own a helmet, but we’re the central nerve system of Sri Lanka’s e-commerce.”

His next plan, to achieve unicorn status, has already begun. The concept has Herath’s hallmark of being lightweight at its heart and promises to be an innovative global platform. It’s a joint venture and is pending a patent. “For instance, Samsung is known for their products globally,” says Herath. “That’s what the next venture will be. It’ll be global, not just confined to Sri Lanka.”

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