A mechanical engineer who later obtained a master’s in mathematical trading and finance, Thushan Shanmugarajah describes himself as a ‘numbers person’, with a liking for data analytics and number crunching. “One thing that excites me about e-commerce is that you have feedback from your customers on a day-to-day or minute-by-minute basis,” he explains. “In some other industries, you probably have to wait for a month to make your decisions. We have a company dashboard that gives us instant feedback on our progress. And then you have to be very agile to work on that data and make progress.”
Most Findmyfare.com customers are leisure travellers, not migrant workers or pilgrims
Targeting regional markets that resemble Sri Lanka’s level of sophistication, when they commenced building a ‘super app’ with more functions, is how the island’s first online travel company, Findmyfare.com, is looking to expand. The firm, which offers online flight bookings and hotel reservations, is commencing a new fundraising round to fund its entry to markets like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Myanmar and Nepal, where conditions are similar now to that of Sri Lanka when the company started six years ago.
“We’re planning to launch in neighbouring markets, where we feel the product fits well and where we can solve similar problems, as we did with a booking portal in Sri Lanka,” says Shanmugarajah. There is a limited amount of private equity funding available in the island, and PE investors prefer startups with ambitions beyond the limited home market.
Most Findmyfare.com customers are leisure travellers, not migrant workers or pilgrims. The firm wants to reach beyond Sri Lanka’s limited market of 21 million people, with for instance, only about a million credit cards issued.
Most of those have credit limits that constrain spending on the services Findmyfare.com offers, which it is trying to get around in innovative ways. The firm also offers different types of activities in over 70 countries, and included movie ticket bookings on its platform, along with utility payments, to make it more of a ‘super app’.
These sorts of payments are more frequent transactions, so the aim is to draw more traffic to the platform. They have also introduced options like fare alerts, where customers can specify a budget and get notified when the ticket prices drop below it, instead of having to keep checking with travel agents.